High school should be for everyone, not just for the select few. Unfortunately, based on my experience at Capital High School, that isn’t always true.

From my experience, sports were the center of attention at Capital. Classes were constantly being interrupted to call students out based on sports schedules and, as a result, class time was broken apart and students became distracted. While Capital did exercise the regular rules, like mandatory attendance to school on game days and maintaining passing grades in class, sports generally took precedence over academics. Therefore, kids who didn’t play sports could be seen as having less value.

Additionally, there was an extreme disparity, not only with funding in certain areas at Capital High School, but what was generally valued within the walls of the school. For example, AVID and the Medical Sciences Academy dominated in importance compared to art and even Advanced Placement classes. I took multiple AP classes with minimal preparation and support.

I heard our school board members and others in the state lament the lack of funding, and I know Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has invested a lot more money into the public education system, effective in July. But at Capital High, I saw multiple teachers take money out of their own pockets to supply the appropriate materials for labs. And I am not talking about outrageously expensive equipment here but about simple materials like batteries.

I cannot say that my entire experience at Capital High School was negative. I have had some of the most dedicated teachers, particularly in the science department, teach about the world around us and look for understanding and inspiration in students rather than a test grade or evaluation. They looked to share their love and passion with their students, and that attitude paid off.

Additionally, the school’s administration as a whole made a tremendous effort to help kids graduate and celebrate all achievements, not just the standards. The doors of our administrative leaders were always open, and they were ready for students to share concerns and complaints.

Most importantly, I learned how to get along with people who may not like me and how to handle situations that generally make me feel awkward or uncomfortable — that’s a skill I think people undervalue but should be learned in high school. It is hard to hold a job or communicate with a teacher without having adequate people skills.

High school is hard for everyone, but there must be a way to make it better.

Elizabeth Walker was the Class of 2019 salutatorian at Capital High School. Contact her at bethwalker110@gmail.com.