There was one thing that Kassandra B. always knew – she had to move. Kassie grew up in North Lawrence in a large, loving extended family. Early on she was diagnosed with ADHD. “It was hard for me. I had a hard time sitting still and behaving.” Like many kids she was given medication to deal with the disorder but she hated it, it made her sick to her stomach and changed her personality. She became quiet and withdrawn and her mother missed her full of life daughter. She stopped taking the medication and started working harder.
She credits an elementary school teacher, Mrs. McVeigh, with providing a very important lesson. “I wasn’t doing well in school and I wanted to blame the teacher but I couldn’t, she was obviously working hard and doing her best. And she was always there for me.” Kassie learned that she had to take responsibility for her education.
“Even as a 14 year old I was always thinking about not just high school, but the bigger picture of life after.” She was unsure of what she wanted to do but when she learned about the education opportunities offered at a technical school her decision was made. Kassie enrolled at GLTS. It takes a different level of maturity for an eighth grader to decide on a high school based on their future and not just where their friends are going to school. “If I stayed in Lawrence, I’d still only have friends from my neighborhood. Coming here I got to be friends with kids from Methuen and North Andover and Andover. Most of the kids are here because they’re figuring out what they want to do with their future.”
When Kassie walked in the front door freshman year she wasn’t sure what to expect, but any nervousness she may have felt was alleviated by the presence of her favorite teacher at GLTS, Mr. Thompson. “He really guided us and made us feel comfortable. He said ‘hey, you’re learning, you can do this as long as you try, I don’t expect you to know everything, I expect you to try.’ He understands that learning is different for different kids.” She chose Metal Fabrication as her shop class and was worried about the math skills that are required for the courses of study. So she worked harder.
“This school is an experience – you leave here knowing more than A x B = C. I’d recommend GLTS to anyone who wants to figure out what they want to do with their lives.”
It has certainly helped Kassie figure out a few things. She has tried swimming, boxing, ballet, hip hop dancing, tae kwon do and jiu jitsu – then she discovered Competitive Cheerleading. “It’s been my passion in high school and I worked my butt off.” Kassie works hard to achieve her dreams. “I didn’t know anything about cheering and I did everything possible to succeed and I made Co-captain junior year and then Captain senior year. I’m really proud of that.”
“People who think that Competitive Cheering isn’t a sport don’t understand. You don’t get innings, or quarters – you get 2 minutes and 30 seconds max – one time and that’s it. You’re either a CAC champion, or a state champion or you’re not – and then you’re done. It’s the hardest two minutes of my life.”
After graduation Kassie will be working full time as a TIG welder at Metal Crafters in Methuen while attending North Shore Community College to study to be a Vet Technician. After that she hopes to go to Veterinary School.