My first day of LEO

Sophia Alaniz , Web Editor

Due to recent choices I have made, I have found myself at Leander Educational Opportunity center, or LEO as most students call it, for the next 23 days. Personally, I think a more fitting name is Leander Educational Prison. I decided to document my experience since most of my peers will never see the inside of LEO.  

At LEO there is no talking, no colorful shirts and no moving from your desk. You may not even drive yourself to LEO, located in the city of Leander. Transportation is provided via a LISD school bus. The air is stale and smells of mold and mildew. There is no energy or excitement in the air. The bathrooms remind me of mini jail cells and the toilets are too low to the ground. I feel like a 5-year-old in time out.

My first day of LEO wasn’t the worst, but I knew I had 23 more long days ahead of me. My day now starts at 6:30 in the morning, which for me is a lot different from my usual 8:20 wake up call. I had to catch the bus to LEO at 7:25 a.m. in the HEB parking lot, since part of the punishment is not being able to drive yourself to LEO. The bus ride lasts about an hour because not only do we pick up kids for LEO, we also pick up kids for New Hope high school. It was slow, the 96.7 FM radio station playing over the terrible bus speakers didn’t make it any better.

The LEO building is surrounded by dead grass, wired fences and broken dreams. It looks like a tattered old elementary school that no child would willingly walk into. I got off the bus and was greeted by a tall man who was holding a white bucket. It reminded me of a dysfunctional airport security line. I put all my things in the too small white bucket and walked through the sad excuse of a metal detector. I was then instructed to go to my classroom, but before I walked in I had to show them my socks, my fingers and the insides of all my pockets. I took what little stuff they let me keep, my lunch box and ACT book, then got escorted to the orientation room. I walked into the room to find a man rummaging through my backpack and pulling out everything. I walked over to him in a flustered manner and asked him what I could keep. I got the pleasure of keeping my lipbalm and headphones. I also had all my school supplies, but I could not take them home. We then got moved to the other side of the room to get the rest of our clothes. We got issued sweatshirts and belts, each sweatshirt had a number on the back, kinda like they do in prison. The belts are no better than looking than seat belt straps. We then all sat down and got instructed to face forward throughout the whole orientation and all through out LEO. Then the orientation started, and to make it very clear it was the longest 30 minutes of my life. They ran through all the rules, and I mean all of them. As they kept on reading the rules they just got increasingly more ridiculous. In my very humble opinion I still think the most ridiculous one was the one about communication. To reiterate them, “You may not talk, smile, bob heads, wave or make eye contact because those are all forms of communication.” Heaven forbid I get happy at LEO because then I would get a “write up.” A write up is when they give you a copy of the handbook and you have to rewrite the whole page.

After the longest 30 minutes of my life, we all walked out of the room in single file line and had to walk on the right side of the hall way. I finally got to my desk and got as comfortable as I could make myself. The teacher tried to keep the LEO class in such a way where you are working 45 minutes on each period, this so far has failed miserably. I continued to do whatever work I wanted to do. I will say that while LEO is suppose to be a punishment, I believe it is a blessing in disguise. I have never been more productive in my four years of high school than my first actual day of LEO. I am ahead in all my classes and I get out 25 minutes earlier than normal school days. My attitude towards this whole experience is to stay positive and realize it could have been a lot worst. I look forward to returning to VHS Nov. 18, but until then I will keep you posted on my life at LEO.