Alternative Schools: Help Not Hurt

Children who go to a public or private schools are often praised for their good grades and athletic achievement. They join sports teams, participate in clubs, and do homework.


This is the vision most people have when they think about the average student.

However , there are also students that do not fit this mold. Some are kicked out of school, some have severe mental illnesses, and others have learning disabilities. Sometimes these differences lead to kids having to go to a different school.


These schools are often referred to as alternative schools. They are often looked at as weird or where the crazy kids go. That couldn’t be further from the truth.


How do I know all this? I went to an alternative school for a while. The one I attended was a little different from ones for the ones with negative behaviors. For me, the school was also considered a treatment center. All of us had severe mental illnesses or learning disabilities. Many of us had come there after a psychiatric hospitalizations. Some came straight from their home school.


It was decided that I would go to an alternative school after I got out of residential treatment. We had to visit the schools to see if it was the right fit. The first one we visited was terrible, Their idea of helping us was to put every student, no matter the age, in the same room. Their way to train us for jobs? Make the student fold pizza boxes and cleaning the gym equipment at the local YMCA. The worst thing? They had “quiet” rooms that they would lock you in. I saw the doors to the room, and heard banging and screaming. They had no interview process that would give them an idea of who I was and who I needed. They were going to accept me that day, without knowing me at all. I immediately decided that the school was not only awful for me, but a very negative environment for any student.


That whole experience made it tough for me to check out the other available school. I went there with my parents and my case manager. We sat down at the table with the director of the school and a teacher’s aid. We discussed what the school was like and  what would help me best. They asked if we had any question. It felt so good to actually be listened to. They told us they would call if I got accepted.


When we got the phone call telling me I was accepted, I was actually excited to go. They had so many good things about them.


One thing about the school was that it was 45 minutes from my house. I was lucky because my public school system provided me a driver and a county car. I rode with one of the elementary school students, who was super sweet and funny. There was never a boring car ride, whether it be him or the driver talking. We listened to NPR on our trip to the school. I actually got to enjoy listening to it.


At school, we would have each core class where we would work on things on our level. We also had gym class, where we would either go to a local park or to a nearby school’s gym. It was fun to get to go outside and practice tennis or swing on the swings. Life skills class was either working on our emotions or quilting. We even got a grant from BAMA Works, which is Dave Matthews charity. Our goal was to make as many quilts as we could to be able to give them to firefighters who hand them out to kids affected by home fires. We learned to measure fabric, sew, and iron,


We also got a therapist to talk to. There were 3 different ones, but I got the newest one. She helped me so much. When I had a rough day at school, she would take walks with me, or let me get it out whether it be by talking, writing, or crying. She stuck by me and never let me go home in tears.


One thing that made me comfortable at the schools is that the quiet room is really a quiet room. It didn’t have a door, and the staff would never restrain a student unless the student was harmful to their self or others. We also had weekly meetings to address our concerns and announce the people who earned a new level.


The level system was determined by how many points we earned that week. Points were awarded when your teacher and parents filled out your point form and turned it in. We also had a school store in which each shelf was for different levels. You’d get to choose your “purchase” based on which level you were on. I was on level 3 almost the whole time, as I did all my work and did what I was told.


My favorite parts of the whole program was horse therapy and summer school. We got to go to a horse therapy program where we learned how to take care of horses and how to ride them. I love horses, so it made me feel happy. I still have my ribbon from completing the program in my bedroom. I don’t wear the tee shirt often, because while I am pretty open, I don’t want strangers knowing I took horse therapy.


I know what you’re thinking. Summer school?!?!YUCK!! The thing is, it wasn’t yucky at all. We had different activities each day. Each day started with handwriting exercise. One day of the week we would go to the movies. Other days we went to the park. My favorite days were field trip Friday. We went to super cool places. Quilt museum (sounds boring, but actually was not), bowling, an art exhibit, and more. My absolute best day was going to an indoor/outdoor water park.
Alternative schools might sound scary, but they are not, If you choose the right one, you will get a lot out of it. I learned how to handle my emotions better, how to work with others, and how it was to be with other people who were struggling outside of the hospital. Sure, there were rough patches. I also felt like I needed a challenge that the school could not provide. I tried some online classes, but hated them. I eventually moved back to my public high school. At times, I wished I had stayed. It was so much easier for me to be in a group of eight people than a group of 750+ people I didn’t really like except for a few.  If you are going to enter an alternative school, don’t fret. It isn’t what  not what society says it is. Find the right fit for you. Ask questions. Don’t go for the first one you find. Make sure they do an interview with you, so you can learn more while they learn about you. It’s okay to be picky. You deserve the best care and schooling you can get. Take care of yourself. You are number one commander of your treatment.


Deep Down In My Heart

I mostly go for well known bands, at least in their genre of music. Sometimes though, I discover a smaller band and fall in love. The one that has happened the most with is Liberty Deep Down. They never fail to make me happy when I listen to them. Made up of Dominic Frissora (vocals and guitar) Halen Bouhadana (guitar and keys), his twin Noah Bouhadana (drums), Dalton Dye (bass), and Tyler Scott Rose (I believe he plays guitar, don’t kill me if i’m wrong), they are a mix of pop and alternative, always a fun combination. They have done nothing but grow with each release, and I am so proud of them. These next 5 songs are going to be my favorites (that I could find online) by them, counting down from 5 to 1. After this go to and read everything about them. You will not be disappointed. I wish that there were studio versions on YouTube for all of these, but the live videos do show how great they are. I apologize that they are not the best quality. They are not mine.

5.) Tonight I’m Going Home

This song is about wanting to take a girl home, and it gets you wishing that girl was you. The runs Dom does make this song a winner.

4.) Something More

This song has a bouncy guitar and fun “nanana”s in it. I love Dom’s voice and this song showcases it perfectly

3.) Somehow

The drums in this songs are in the spotlight ( So good job Noah) and the lyrics are pretty awesome (Sometimes I look in the mirror/ And don’t know who I see/ Just a broken reflection/ Of who I thought I’d be). There are some talented songwriters in this band.

2.) Heartbeat

The keyboard plays a crucial role in this song, and adds a more electronic feel to the song. The background vocals are also excellent, adding the right amount of edge to the song

1.) Away We Go

I am so glad I found this on YouTube. This is my all time favorite LDD song. It has the whole package deal, lyrics, music, vocals. I just love it and it is always my go to song from this band.

So there you have it. Go listen to their EPs, either on Spotify or buy them on iTunes (support the artist!) I am eagerly awaiting a.) a full length album and b.) a tour date close enough to me I can see them. Go see them if you can and give them all the love they deserve.

Doctor Brixx-Recovery

You might have never heard if Doctor Brixx. If you have, good for you, but otherwise, check him out NOW. A while back, he put out a mashup of Bulls In The Bronx by Pierce The Veil and Come and Get IT by Selena Gomez, and it almost broke the alternative music scene. It had a mixed reaction, with some people hating the fact that he mixed a pop song with PTV. If you were one of the many who did like it, or you haven’t heard it yet, check it out here:

This album is like a monster truck version of everything else you have ever heard by Doctor Brixx.  It is so pumped up, that you can’t help but like it. Clocking in at 1:00:15, Recovery continuously plays your favorite songs in a weird and wonderful way. It starts out with Michael Buffer getting you “ready to rumble”, which is the perfect intro to what comes next. There are 12 different compilations, each with a unique setlist, ranging from Matchbox Twenty’s “How Far We’ve Come” with a backing taken from Panic! At The Disco’s “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies”, which is one of the best combinations on the album (starting at 5:03) and the whole “Ready To Let Go” mashup at 25:02.

“Ready To Let Go” contains the backing from “Numb” by Linkin Park for several songs and then goes to a marvelous mix of “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit music with “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus and “Tonight Tonight” from Hot Chelle Rae. If there was ever a stroke of genius, it is in those three songs being combined together. It has other songs, but those are the standouts.

The songs somehow fit perfectly together, no matter how different they are. It is hard to imagine “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” from the Offspring backed up by Panic! At the Disco, but it works, and it works well.

“Prayer and Meditation”, ( 50:04) another compilation, contains two twenty one pilots songs, both with a song that does not seem to fit the feel of 21P. “Blackout” from Breathe Carolina with “Trees” makes for a bouncy mix, as both songs are club ready by themselves. They work perfectly together, as does “Guns For Hands” with “21st Century Breakdown” by Green Day. You can make most things work with 21P, but this works extremely well. If you can throw a Nirvana and All Time Low song in the same mix, as Doctor Brixx does, you can make the writer happy. “Prayer and Meditation” is one of the extreme high points of this album.

Remember, there are ten other mixes that were not discussed, but there are not enough words in the world to describe them. You will have to listen for yourself.

Doctor Brixx is going places. There are no other mashups like his, and turning anywhere else for them would be a huge mistake. The video that contains Recovery in its entirety. Listen, take your time, and absorb the awesomeness that is Doctor Brixx.

Give It a Chance

The alternative music scene is often looked at in a bad light. No matter the causes the musicians stand for, no matter the fan’s good deeds, there is a negative connotation with the type of music so many people love.

I was going to a concert with my father. He was worried that the crowd was going to be a bad group of people. As much as I tried to convince him, he remained convinced that the crowd of people who listen to Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens were unruly and wild. Let me repeat that. I said PIERCE THE VEIL and SLEEPING WITH SIRENS. Two bands that, out of all of the music in this scene, are not nearly as heavy as a lot of bands I like.

One thing I do not like is when people say “It’s just screaming. How do you understand them?” In my opinion, even if you don’t understand the words, the meaning is still there. Musicians in this style of music often have a way to convey feelings with their instruments. This is not easy, but it happens with ease for many of these bands. That is what I love about this music. The screaming adds to the feel of the songs, making you feel what they feel. It does not take away from the lyrics at all for them to be screamed.

People outside of the scene have this assumption that if you listen to these bands, you will either be out-of-control, taking drugs, torturing animals, all of that evil stuff or you will be depressed. I am here to tell you that they are wrong. The people I know who partake in this certain style of music are all great students and have a bright future ahead of them.  Those who are depressed often use the music as an escape, not an enabler. This is definitely not true for everybody, but that is also not true in life. Just because you listen to rap, that doesn’t mean you are in a gang. If you listen to country, that does not make you a “redneck”. Classical music doesn’t make you a goody-goody. EDM does not mean that you take drugs. Your type of music does not define you.

While some subject matter in harder songs might not be happy and all about love, love, love, that does not make it any less of a genre. The topics these songs are about true and real things. These songs are about how people live, love, lose, and survive. Not much music can do this. I’m not against pop at all. In fact, I am a huge fan of many artists that fall under the category. The thing I don’t like about it is that it lacks substance. Many songs these days are about sex, drugs, and other stupid subjects. People should not want to listen to that, me included, but yet we do. I was wondering why we like pop music. It turns out that repeated exposure to music can cause you to like it, no matter how god-awful it is. Heavier and other alternative music is not played as much. This could be why it is so good, but not looked at that way. People are not as exposed to it, are not used to it, and end up thinking they don’t like it.

If more people listened to alternative music, it would not be looked down upon as much. People would not think that it’s listeners are bad people. Think about it. Nobody says that those listening to pop music are evil, Satan-worshipping folks. Alternative music deserves a chance.

New To Me

I discover new music all of the time. Most of the time, it is not really new. I have never heard it, or have listened very few times to it. I’d like to share some of my favorite music I have been finding recently.

1. Jonathan (Acoustic Version)- ICE NINE KILLS

This video is a masterpiece. Not just because of the song itself, which by the way, is spectacular.The proceeds from this version of the song on iTunes go to fight mitochondrial disease. The video has a person, the song’s namesake, talking about his struggle with the disease. It is heartwarming. Even fi you don’t like the song, you will still want to buy the song to help find a cure.

2. Jersey- Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. I have been listening to their music for the past couple of days. This song is one the best. I’ve heard that A Lesson In Romantics is their best album. I’ll have to look into that.

3. The Run And Go- twenty one pilots

twenty one pilots has secured a spot as one of the best bands I have heard in a while. Their music is in my head for days, and this song stands out. I love the piano and the “do do do do do do do do”s. IT is such an upbeat sounding song, but does not have the happiest lyrics. Songs like that make me smile.

And one more…

4. Habits (Stay High) -Tove Lo

This is just her most popular song. Do yourself a favor and check out everything this songstress has put out. You will be left in awe at the honesty in the songs. This song is one of the most truthful songs I have heard. She says it like it is, and that is amazing.

Those are a few of my recent favorites. One is new, one a rendition of an older song, and two songs from a while back. This is what I am listening to, and hopefully you will be listening also.

P.S. I need you all to listen to the Mayday Parade album I am listening to. Here is the video of the full album.

Cold War Kids- Hold My Home

Indie music is all the rage now. I’ve heard it described as pop, because it is so common and well, popular. The term is not even used specifically for independently recorded artists. There are many artists out there who have taken indie and made it their own. Vampire Weekend is a good example, as are Fitz and The Tantrums. Another example is the band that is going to be discussed today.

Cold War Kids don’t do many new things for music, but their talent is making what we have better. The album starts out with “All This Could Be Yours”. It begins with a piano riff that drags you in, and there is no getting out. The chorus is repetitive, but it is not so much so that you do not want to listen to it. Guitars are expertly played and vocals are interesting, yet remind you of many other artists. The good thing about it is that I like those artists.

“First”, the second track, pulled me in from the moment I hear the opening. This album was up on the First Play feature on iTunes, and the opening always played when you turned on the album. It got me excited to hear the album, and the song gets an A+ in my book. The lyrics are meaningful and well written, with words such as “Flying like a cannonball, falling to the earth”. You are happy and then you are sad throughout the whole album. There is no one mood ou stay with while listening.

If you don’t listen to anything else on the album, check out “Go Quietly”. The high vocals fit perfectly with the emotion of the song, and there are occasional rougher moments. These rough moments make the album what it is. It shows that no band is perfect, no matter how close they get. Even the lesser moments are good, and that proves a band to be great. This album will have me listening to more Cold War Kids, and I recommend you listen to this album and everything else by them. Their name may say Cold War, but they will warm your heart.

Wildcat! Wildcat!- No Moon at All

If you want different, look no further. Wildcat! Wildcat! is exactly what you are looking for. Starting off the album is Tower/ W.O.H.L with a long introduction made up of an almost scary electronic beat. A few seconds into the song you begin to feel as if you are going to dance with fairies in the meadow. It eventually goes into the smooth voice that is Wildcat! Wildcat! I have never heard such an easygoing voice in a song. The man could put a child to sleep. A very, very happy baby.

With only a self-titled EP under their belt before this full-length album, Wildcat! Wildcat! is working hard to prove themselves in their genre. They are classified as alternative, and that is what they are. They sound like nobody before them, and I’m almost positive no one will be able to replicate their sound. That is a very good thing, because music today needs originality. Wildcat! Wildcat! is not bubblegum-pop or even your typical alternative today ( which normally involves banjos, raspy vocals, or a combination of the two.) If you are looking for a band that stays true to their genre, you will be giddy when you hear this album.

The highlight of this album has got to be Up and Beyond.It’s a joyride, taking you down a path of “c’mons” and “whoo-oos”. It’s the closest to the sickeningly sweet nonsense you hear so much today, but it has many redeeming qualities, with the bubbly beats and enticing lyrics. You just have to hear the rest of the album once you hear that song. That will be the best decision you make that day. 

Next time you are trying to unwind, do some yoga, drink some hot tea, maybe get a massage, but do it all with No Moon at All in the background. This album is probably the most relaxing, yet not painful to listen to, one you will have heard this year.