River's Edge High School's Jonathan Medina

River's Edge High School's Jonathan Medina

Jonathan Medina says he struggled in his first few years of high school. The traditional classroom approach just didn’t work for him. Then he learned about River’s Edge High School from a friend.

“When I first got (to River’s Edge), they were just trying out project-based learning,” Jonathan says.

It was a gamechanger. He loved the multi-disciplinary approach to his classes and the projects he got to work on with other students. He also found the school’s smaller size easier to connect with and build relationships.

The move to remote learning in late 2019 and through part of the 2020-21 school year threw a wrench in his senior year and he was unable to finish his credits for graduation. But he didn’t give up.

“I’m a hands-on learner so doing school online was really hard,” Jonathan says. “But I loved all my teachers and they worked so hard to keep us connected.”

He returned for a fifth year and reset. He took courses such as Explora-vation, where he and his teammates had to innovate how to make an existing product better and a podcasting class where he made a podcast about roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, talking about how materials science and math are crucial to playing.

“I got to research and do a deep dive into things I already love,” Jonathan says.

He completed all his credits earlier this spring and graduated in April, allowing him to work and save up for his next step. Despite all the challenges he has faced, he knows his time at River’s Edge has set him up for his future.

“I can butt heads with people, but being here has taught me to compromise and collaborate, be comfortable out of my zone,” Jonathan says.