Real Salt Lake Academy High School outstanding graduate: From failing to flourishingJun 28, 2021 10:45AM ● By Jet Burnham
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Stone Lopez is graduating from Real Salt Lake Academy High School. But he almost didn’t.
“When he came to us in ninth grade, he did not look like he was ever going to get to graduation,” RSLAHS English teacher Janice Randall said. “But he actually is graduating this year and managed to take an AP class in the mix. He passed the English AP class, which is a huge achievement coming from someone who failed pretty much all his ninth grade classes. It's a real success story for him.”
During his junior year, Lopez committed to doing better in school and started making up the credits from his freshman and sophomore years.
His senior year has been a stark contrast to his freshman year.
“Last term I got above a three point [GPA], a 3.3,” he said. “That's definitely something that I was very proud of. I didn't ever think that would ever happen.”
He also got to play in a couple of varsity games and was named Player of the Match in one of them.
“He loves sports but he couldn't play for the first few years because he didn't have the grades,” Randall said. “He was determined to play sports in 12th grade before he left high school.”
During his senior year, Lopez played volleyball, basketball and soccer for RSLAHS.
“My first two years, I just sat and watched everyone play,” he said. “In 10th grade, after I didn't get the grades to play soccer. I was just like, ‘maybe I should just drop out and start working and save money.’”
But he didn’t want to disappoint his family, friends and teachers, who were giving him so much support and encouragement.
“We just kept saying, ‘You can do this, you can do this,’ and eventually he realized that, ‘Oh, hold on, I can do this,’” Randall said. “It was still a struggle, but he's realized that people will work with him if he puts his heart and soul into it.”
Lopez was amazed by his teachers’ support.
“The teachers here, they just want to help everyone,” he said. “You ask them for help and they'll help you. That's what's so nice about having been in a small school.”
Randall believes Lopez would have fallen through the cracks in a larger school.
“We do develop relationships with the kids that often, I think, do help them do better than they might elsewhere,” she said.
Lopez said his family has always encouraged him to do better in school.
“My dad didn't graduate and he always told me that one of the worst things was seeing all his friends graduating, and not doing it, so that motivated me,” he said. “And I’m just wanting to have a better life than just being a dropout.”
Lopez’s advice to students who are falling behind is to get caught up quickly.
“Don't sit on your butt and play video games like I did,” he said. “If you just do it when you're supposed to, it's a lot easier.”
Lopez is headed to Dixie State University to major in business.
Randall, who has been teaching for 37 years, is excited for the future Lopez has created for himself.
“You really want to see them succeed but you can't do it for them,” she said. “And you hope and hope they'll find it within themselves, and when they do, it's the best feeling.”