The Switch

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 22, 2017

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Submitted: May 22, 2017



Email 1-

I am writing to inform you of a student I have here who has made a very interesting choice. After four years in the STEM program in the public school system, he has elected to quit. I am not convinced that this is the best option for this student, as he states that he is no longer interested in pursuing high level science and math courses and I have not been able to discern a viable plan. I am having this student in for a discussion about why he is making this decision and what he plans to do moving forward.


Counselor Picard


Chapter One

“So why am I in this meeting again?”

“Because we need to understand why you are choosing not to continue with this program” I replied to the student.

“It isn’t working for me. It’s not taking me where I need to go, and I’m not well suited for it. Let’s face it, when I have classes all eight periods and sports after school for most of the year, you can’t tell me that I have time to do as well in all the subjects as I need too. I can’t get the help I need.”

“Your teachers are always willing to help you”

“I am beyond aware of that, but I can’t get any more help than I already am. My coach won’t let me be an hour late every day, and that’s the amount of help I need. STEM isn’t a program for kids who need help just learning the material. Why should I continue with a program that lands me in the bottom of a pile of people and takes up so much of my time? I can’t tell you the last time I did something that I thought would benefit me. I spend all my time studying for classes that I’m never going to use again. “


“But these classes will help you get into a good college and make lots of money. You have to go to college.”


“No I don’t. That’s exactly the kind of narrow minded view I want to get away from. STEM is so focused on going to big, prestigious universities that other options get ignored. There are so many other options. Trade school, on the job training, community college, the military, non-engineering fields in college, and a whole bunch of others. Why should I be ashamed if my plans are different than everyone else's when there is nothing wrong with them? I will go to college, but who the hell do you think you are to tell me how to do it? Contrary to what my GPA says I’m not stupid. Just because I can’t solve a physics problem doesn’t mean I’m dumb. The only class I’m taking this year that will apply to the career I want is biology, and I’m spending so much time studying for physics that I know my grade in bio has fallen. How is that helping me?

“It’s important to be well rounded”

“I am well rounded. How am I not? I’m pulling C’s in all these stupid extra classes. Well rounded does not mean being an expert in everything. I’d be even more well rounded if I didn’t have to spend all my time trying to grasp things that won’t help me.”

“How so?”

“When I’m not in school, I learn things from my Dad. He teaches me about cars and woodworking and fixing things that are broken. I learn how to cook and manage money from my mom. I could be in an EMT class, but I’m not because of my course load.  I learn so much when I’m out of school, and I’m done giving those things up for this program that isn’t helping me.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to get my EMT card this summer. Then next year I’m going to take classes that will actually help me and maybe if I’m lucky I can recover my GPA. Then I will get into college and I will do something worthwhile, but I will do it on my own. I’ve got a plan, but STEM is getting in the way.”

“We just don’t want to see you quit so easily”

“Easily? Are you really that blind? I wanted to quit after freshman year, but I didn’t. I stayed in. I thought that maybe, just maybe it would all work out. I’ve spent night after night staying up late studying, begging my peers for help, meeting with teachers, going to tutors, using online help, and doing anything else I could think of. I’ve gotten a pass from my government teacher so that I could go in and get help in precalc instead of going to his class. I stay after school every chance I get to get any bit of help I can.. I give up time with my Dad, who is probably going to be deployed soon, so that I can do all the stupid homework I have. I’ve woken up at two A.M.  having a panic attack because I was so stressed about my damn grades for a class that I won’t ever even THINK about after this year. After I’m done with that I get up early because my math teacher is kind enough to help me before school. What is the point of that? I could be doing so much more but instead I am wasting my time with this.


“OK. You’ve made your point. But why quit now? The program lightens up next year, you have almost a normal schedule. It’s just one extra class.”

“One extra class that I don’t need. I can fill that time with something that is more relevant to me. I don’t have the same objective as the STEM program. Maybe if I wanted to do medical research it would be good, but I don’t. I want the down and dirty frontline work, the stuff you can’t learn in just a classroom. I want to see the immediate impact of my actions on the well-being of others. And it’s not just one extra class, if I stayed in STEM I would have to do an internship next summer, and the kind of things that I do don’t count for the internship. So why should I take away time from pushing toward my end goal and give it to something that doesn’t help me nearly as much? Then I would have to spend more time during my senior year analyzing the internship, and I want to focus on getting college credits that I will actually use and becoming a good EMT.”

“Ok. I see your logic, and I will make sure that we get you set up with a non-STEM schedule next year.”

“Thank you. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great program, but it isn’t for me and I won’t force myself through it any longer.”

“I understand. I appreciate you coming in today, and I hope everything works out as best as possible for you.”


Email 2

Good afternoon Chief, I am writing to inform you that I am a little concerned about a young man I ran a call with today. We ran a CPR call on a fourteen year old male that was pronounced dead once we got to the ER. The boy’s mother was performing CPR when we arrived, and she was understandably distraught. The young man that was with me performed admirably, but due to the nature of the call I wanted to give you advance notice. He said that he was OK when he left the station earlier, but I’ve arranged to talk with him again before training tomorrow. I’ll let you know if anything happens.


-Captain Kevin Grange, Critical Care Paramedic


Chapter 2

“Hey buddy, can we talk for a minute?”

“Yeah, what’s up Cap?”

“I just wanted to check back up on you after yesterday's call. It was some pretty rough stuff. How are you doing?”

“I’m OK, just a little frustrated with myself.”


“I froze in that house. All I could do was stare at that kid. Watch as his stomach went up and down as his chest compressed. I hid behind one of the cops so nobody could make me do anything. I was petrified, and frozen, and useless. I’m supposed to be an EMT, but how can I do that if I freeze up?”

“Ya know bud, that’s ok. Because the part you’re leaving out here is what you did in the back of that ambulance. When we were coming out of the house to the ambulance and I asked you to start compressions, you did it without missing a beat. I had plenty of help in the house, so you didn’t have a job. So standing there and watching was the best thing for you to do. You looked calm, so you and me are the only ones that need to know that you stood there out of fear. On top of that it was your first time in the field, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You did good. I am confident that with some more work you will be a good EMT.”

“Thanks. I just… wow that was a lot to take in in one night.”m

“I totally get it. I didn’t run a CPR until Paramedic school. My first call was a little old lady that got mild hypothermia, your’s was a hell of a lot more intense. It’s ok to be overwhelmed, that’s what all of us here at the station are for. Every once in awhile you see something so screwed up that you need some time to process it. The important thing is to not do it alone.

“Thanks Captain. I’m OK, I just want to get back out there and try again.”

“I promise, next time you will do better. And every time you go out that door, you will keep getting better and better as long as you keep that attitude.


Email 3

Congratulations on being chosen for the Central City Advanced Life Support Unit! Please report for recruit orientation on 8:00 A.M. on August first. After completing the orientation class, you will begin a field internship under an experienced field trainer that will end when the field trainer signs you off to be the sole Paramedic on a call. There is no set length for the internship, however if you have not completed it within four months you will be dropped from the internship.


-Barry Allen, Human Resources, Central City ALS


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