Bijou grad already out on her own

       Britta Herrin has survived a crash where her vehicle flipped three and a half times, has suffered a serious concussion that still keeps her out of competitive sports, has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD), bipolar disease and ulcers, and has had a couple of brushes with the law. Though refraining from drugs and alcohol herself, she has watched people get so hammered they didn't even know their names anymore and fight in ways that horrified her. For the past several months, she has lived on her own, worked a full-time waitressing job, taken college courses and made a deliberate choice to stop taking ADD medication. Britta Herrin
       Britta is 18 years old. The former Midland Elementary and West Middle School student just received a diploma from the Bijou School, the alternative high school on the Westside.
       Rather than look back with regrets about past problems, she speaks frankly about them - “I hung out with friends who weren't the greatest influence on my life.” And, rather than get sad about her physical issues, “I'm learning what I have problems with and what I can do to help myself.”
       Otherwise, Britta can look forward to a future with unique potential. How many other high school grads can realistically choose between being an auto mechanic or a journalist? She's done a bit of both, having grown up working on cars and having written seriously for several years and (this school year) helped edit the Bijou School newspaper, the Bijou Bulletin.
       She's even toyed with being a chef. “I've done every single thing you can do in a restaurant,” she said, but added the concern that turning cooking into a career would take away the joy she now finds in it.
       In any case, she feels no pressure to decide. Her overriding goal is to be her own boss, so for now she's working toward a business management degree at Pikes Peak Community College.
       She credits the Bijou School, which she attended for the past two years, for helping turn her life around. Rather than pass courses and receive grades, students at Bijou accumulate points by proving they understand subject matter. If they get enough points, they can graduate.
       “That's what I love about Bijou,” she said, although noting that some students have trouble with the self-discipline the point system requires. “It lets you show who you really are.”
       The school newspaper advisor, Nancy Gibbs, praised Britta's work. “She has beautiful writing skills, is very thorough, and does a good job of interviewing,” she said. Asked what she thought about the student's auto mechanics/writing choice, Gibbs said, “She probably could do either with ease. She's worked very hard, living on her own, and done a lot to succeed.”

Westside Pioneer article