Nashyia Griffin impressed administrators at Anclote High School from the start of the 2009-10 school year. She advocated for herself, principal Monica Ilse said, always checking her grade-point average, seeking to find ways to improve her performance.
"It made us notice," Ilse said.
A low achiever as a freshman, Nashyia sought to turn her results around. Her focus and determination landed her in honors classes and on the track team, where she set several school records. Nashyia talked this week about her motivation, which has resulted in her receiving a Turnaround Achievement Award.
What were you like to get you to wind up here? Where did you start?
I started at J.W. Mitchell High School. My grades weren't really that good. I wasn't focusing on classes. I made C's and D's. But when I came to Anclote High School I started paying more attention to my grades and doing my work and learning more in class. It made me get A's and B's and stop messing around.
You said you weren't focusing. Why not? What was keeping your focus off?
I was just hanging around with friends and not thinking about school work, thinking I could just pass by and get my work in late and think it would be okay.
Was that because your friends were telling you to do it that way? Or did you just decide?
I guess I was just hanging out with the wrong group of people. And they didn't do their work either. So this year I started hanging out with the right people who actually did do their work. It made me focus more and think about my grades.
How did you find out you were with the wrong group? Did somebody tell you?
I decided on my own, because when we were hanging out they never paid attention to anything they were doing. I thought it was okay, like I could just slide by and everything would be okay. But when I started getting my report cards and stuff, I was like, I can't pass high school with these grades.
Why was passing high school so important to you?
Because I want to go to a university when I get older, so I can become an optometrist.
You definitely need to go to college for that. So, who was it that helped you? Was it yourself? Was it a teacher? Your parents?
Actually, it was all three. My parents helped me and my teachers, they supported me. Because in the beginning of the year I couldn't do any sports because I had a horrible GPA. But my teachers made sure I was actually doing my work and I was focusing on class. And my parents made sure, and my close friends did too.
What sports do you play?
I do cheerleading, and track and field.
So not being able to participate was pretty important to you?
Was that part of the motivation, that you wanted to get back on those teams?
What was it about freshman year and sliding by? Was that a reaction to something?
I guess it just seemed to be. Like, I didn't think it would be that important. In middle school, things were so constant. But when I hit high school it was like a totally different story on everything.
No. Some of my classes were hard, but most of my classes were easy. It was just the fact that I didn't pay attention.
Your parents must have been thrilled when you started looking the other way.
They were happy. My mom was very proud of me. She was like, "I know last year you didn't pay attention." So this year she was very happy. And my father was also.
How hard was it for you to make the turn, especially away from those friends, the ones you were hanging out with before?
It was hard, because, I mean, we've known each other for a while. So, not turning against them, I still hang with them, but I have to know that I have to do my work and pay attention.
Is there any other part of the story that you're not telling me?
Well, it's just last year was a lot of stress because my grandfather passed away, my brother ended up having to go through surgery. So it was kind of like sidetracking me even though I wasn't paying attention. It was even more stressful. But this year, it's kind of been hard to keep my grades maintained and doing all the work and trying to do all the work. Now I have a 3.5. So I have been working pretty hard.