Pressurized: A Story of Redemption
Academics, Features

Pressurized: A Story of Redemption

By Eleni Bow

Pressure is a compelling force. Seemingly affable friends that pressure you to rebel can wreck a reputation. Pressure is how lustrous diamonds get made.

She was under pressure to rebel as a freshman, but something caused her to convert that pressure so she could become a Deltonian diamond. Her story of transformation is known to bring tears to some eyes. 

~

She was a seventh grader at Cowan Junior-Senior High School when she stole a pack of cigarettes from her older brother’s room. She planned to exchange the cigarettes with another student for a phone.

The two of them got caught and were suspended for five days. She wasn’t allowed to return to Cowan for the eighth grade.

Alyssa Barton is a bad kid.

~

Barton transferred to Delta Middle School for her eighth grade year. As a new kid, she didn’t really know who was good to have as friends. She chose the first group of kids she saw.

“I belonged to a really horrible friend group,” she recalls. However, Barton now believes that those kids weren’t necessarily bad, they were just good kids that did bad things.

The pressure was on. Now that she found some people to hang out with, she was desperate to keep it that way, to make them talk about her.

When a fellow student told her they had alcohol in their locker, Barton went in and took a drink. Video surveillance caught her, and she was brought into the office for further questioning. 

Rumors started to swirl, saying she poured rum into the can of mango juice she was carrying around. Although the drink tested negative for alcohol, she was still not in the clear.

This was her first infraction with Delaware Community schools, which turned into four months of PASS, or Positive Alternative to School Suspension. This allows students with infractions to still be in school to stay on track with academics while managing consequences.

~

She continued to rebel for validation from her friends and be seen as “cool.” When she rode the bus, she tried to impress them by showing she did not care about the bus driver’s rules for sitting on the bus. She laid across her then boyfriend’s lap, who was two grades ahead of her, a sophomore. 

Barton ignored all requests from the bus driver to sit up in the seat and face forward. She was to be placed in the forward-most seat for the remainder of the year. 

Although she was expected to sit in the front seat of the bus away from her friends, Barton felt the need to show off anyway.

“She sat backwards, sideways, and every which way,” reads the infraction report.

Meanwhile, she spent another day in ISS due to numerous dress code violations.

~

Barton’s freshman year lasted about seven months instead of nine, cut short due to the COVID pandemic. However, this would still be the year she would receive the most infractions.

Two for profanity, two for littering, one for cheating, one for a fight, one for truancy.

She looks back and can’t help but laugh at that truancy infraction. She had asked to be excused from class in the middle of the period, claiming she needed to see the nurse.

Surveillance video showed her and her then boyfriend hanging out in the hallway for “several minutes,” according to the report.

“I had a really complicated boyfriend at the time,” Barton says. “He didn’t really help [things] either, because he was two grades above me and a lot of drama went down between our two families.”

~

Now that she was a student at the high school, she had to sit with a new set of administrators when it came to dishing out consequences for infractions. 

Enter assistant principal Ms. Joey Gossett.

Barton had a sneaking suspicion this woman did not like her, especially because their first interaction was after Barton got into a fight that turned physical with another girl.

“I got called into the office afterwards,” she said. “[Principal Chris] Conley and Gossett were there, and Gossett was very hard on me, stern and mean.”

Looking back, Barton doesn’t believe that Gossett was being “mean.” She was just doing her job. Barton has come to really value what she was told that day – “you have the ability to do better than you’re doing.”

That piece of advice would give her the confidence boost Gossett believed that Barton was lacking. “She didn’t really back talk, it wasn’t that she was necessarily disrespectful at all, I just felt that she didn’t believe in herself,” Gossett says.

~

Unknowingly, for Barton and thousands of other students across the nation, the last day of the school year in-seat would be Friday, March 13, 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning in a classroom setting would be replaced with receiving assignments to complete online within a week.

Now essentially alone for the next few months, she had time to think.

She spent her time finishing the semester online, considering the value that school can have for students, to give that opportunity of building healthy bonds with peers and teachers. 

“I was like ‘Oh, well I’m not really considered to be a good student anymore because of all the things that I’ve done, so I can’t necessarily build those bonds’,” Barton said. “I needed to change for the better.”

She’s now a senior at the tail end of her high school career. The last infraction she ever received was on March 3, 2020 for the truancy incident. 

Alyssa Barton used to be a bad kid. 

~

Barton spends her school mornings interning as a certified nursing assistant at Muncie’s Willowbend Living Center, a senior care facility. She takes care of residents by making sure they’re well taken care of and clean.

Alyssa CNA
Barton works as a CNA at Willowbend Living Center. She officially earned her certification on April 21. (Photo provided)

Changing incontinence briefs, giving showers, brushing hair, doing nails – all so they can feel just a little more human. 

“I give them their dignity back,” Barton says.

When she’s not administering medical care, she cares for the residents in other ways. Sometimes sharing a conversation is all they need, especially for those without family. She’s known to be like a daughter to them.

~

The fourth period of the school day rolls around, and Barton enters the building for an afternoon stuffed with dual credit courses.

She cycles through Ivy Tech and Ball State University dual-credit courses such as IT ADV BIO 102, IT POLS 101, BSU ENG 104, and IT MATH 137.

When she was a freshman, the motivation to work hard and succeed was minimal. Now, as a senior, the pressures have shifted. 

“Sometimes I forget to do things, but I always try to bust my butt to get the grades that I have, and the knowledge that I have, and my GPA,” she says.

Although she was always more or less an A/B student, it took Barton a while to understand what that can do for her future.

Chemistry teacher Mr. Terry Summers had Barton in his class for three years – freshman biology, sophomore chemistry, and junior chemistry II. He had the privilege of watching Barton “gain focus for the future with understanding of the importance of education” as she went through the years.

Barton will graduate this June with more than 50 college credits and her Indiana College Core certificate. 

~

It took Barton a few weeks to decide enrollment to Ball State University, Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University in West Lafayette, or Valparaiso University. After much deliberation, she made the confirmation, and then went straight to the person she wanted to be the first to know.

Barton entered Gossett’s office. 

She will attend Ball State University as a first-generation college student to major in nursing and minor in American Sign Language.

Barton poses with Charlie Cardinal at BSU Admitted Student Day on April 14. She will major in nursing in the fall. (Photo provided)

“I’m very excited for her. She’s sticking around home,” Gossett says. “One of the first things I said to her after she told me was ‘Good, then you’ll be around to talk to [incoming] freshmen’.”

~

The impulsive, inconsiderate, and disrespectful kid with poorly-chosen friends is now a Deltonian diamond, hoping her shining future will inspire at least a few kids to succeed as she did. However, this transformation did not magically happen overnight, nor was it easy. 

Barton put in years of hard work and learned some important lessons. 

She’s not what she used to be.

“A lot of students have transformations like that, but hers, it makes me want to cry,” Gossett says. “Watching her as a freshman, you had this sinking feeling that if she doesn’t change, then she’s not going to graduate. But she did change, and it’s like she went from first gear to fifth gear right away, and that was amazing.”

Barton and Gossett no longer see each other to deal with infractions. Instead, Barton pops in the office from time to time to share a conversation with who is now one of her “favorite people at Delta.”

The two celebrate Barton’s accomplishments and offer support during tough times. If there’s something Barton believes that Gossett should know, she tells her. Barton greatly appreciates what Gossett does and the great amount of care she has for students.

“In all honesty, I do not think I could have made it without Gossett and her support,” Barton says. “Now, she’s somebody that I look up to a lot.”

The student – a bad kid turned into a shining inspiration – and the assistant principal, who was once known for dishing out the consequences, plan to take a selfie together on the last day of school.

May 4, 2023

About Author

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Eleni Bow Eleni Bow watches too many cartoons and takes too many photographs. Never seen without paint on her hands. An aspiring photojournalist and journalist while a senior (!) in high school. Stops to pet every cat or dog she sees. A day filled with new experiences is a day well spent. A day without a rainstorm is a day wasted. Currently listening to I Won't by AJR and THAT SUX by Royal and the Serpent.


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