It wasn’t so long ago that Bo Falcon felt lost, struggling with mental health issues, abusing drugs and straining to put one step in front of the other. As for high school, Bo says, “I was actively not doing any work at my old school, not caring.”
Bo found solace and support in a residential mental health treatment center. After turning the corner there, Bo (who uses they/them pronouns) did not want to return to a busy, crowded high school. Their therapist recommended Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies.
Bo checked it out and found a new learning home. The personalized approach and flexible scheduling allow them to work remotely at times and to come on campus for one-on-one academic, social and emotional support.
“It was easier to continue my recovery with this school,” Bo says. “Everyone is very welcoming.”
Bo’s old school was an arts-oriented charter school, and they found the atmosphere at MDAA —relaxed, studious, with cafe-style seating and the freedom to study alone or in small groups — to be a refreshing change. “My old school was quite chaotic, but this is nice and calm.”
Bo identifies as transgender and has found a warm, accepting vibe among students, several of whom have become good friends. “There’s not much drama at all.”
Equally accepting and encouraging are the academic, social/emotional and career coaches at MDAA. They credit in particular graduation candidate advocates Erick Velis and Nadi Sambrana.
“Oh, I love her so much,” Bo says of Sambrana. “She’s amazing.”
Bo makes art with crystals, using them to create dazzling tees, embedding them into eyeglass frames and creating other objects. They also are a visual artist, having created images in charcoal and watercolor, including hand-drawn portraits of pet animals.
Bo speaks openly of their problems with substances, saying they’ve been sober for more than two years. Bo urges other young people grappling with personal and academic challenges to accept the help they need, and to be both patient and persistent with themselves.
“If you want something very badly and put the effort into it, it will come,” Bo says. As for struggles, “this, too, shall pass.”