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Joanna is 13 and has attended DVS since age 5. Besides preschool, DVS is the only school she has attended.

Joanna's Viewpoint

What do you like doing at DVS?
I'm doing a lot of different stuff. I like being outside. I like playing the piano. I'm not really in many classes right now. I do attend Crafts class sometimes.

Over time, have there been changes in the things you like doing?
Yes, there are a lot of changes. I've been acting a lot. I'm in a [musical theater] program right now on Saturday mornings, and you don't have to audition to get in but I think I'm going to start auditioning soon. I was in Almost Wicked, which I liked the most. I was the cowardly lion. I was in Twist, which is like Oliver Twist but different. I also liked being in Spam Spade, Detective. The main character was a pig, so it's kind of funny.

How do you decide what to do each day?
In the mornings I'm kind of relaxed, and we just sit around and talk and stuff. Sometimes we go off campus and go out to eat. I read a lot at school. I just kind of decide by whatever we want to do that day.

How do you get the resources you need?
Most of the materials are here for things I want to do. I really like that they have so many kinds of activities. They have a lot of art materials, like for sewing or just drawing. Vicente [staff] brings in all this stuff he finds that don't seem like they would have a use, like bottle tops, little things. Last year, another student and I would go into the utility room and use a hot glue gun and these little things to make little houses.

What is your proudest accomplishment during your time at DVS?
Learning to play the piano makes me proud, because I think I'm really good at it, even if I don't know how to read notes. Teresa [student] taught me for about a year, and sometimes I just go online and find ways to learn music. I plan on learning this year how to read notes, but I've memorized some songs. I think it'll be easier once I learn how to read sheet music.

What is your best skill or talent?
I think it's tap dancing. I took a Beginning Tap class in the fall at DVC [Diablo Valley College]. I'm going to try and keep going with that.

Is there anything you are working on improving?
I'm mostly focusing on the arts like music, acting and dancing. That's what I'm trying to focus on right now. I want to get better at all those things.

What do you think of the staff?
They are kind of like friends instead of people who work here. I like talking to Vicente, Anne, and Anne-Martine. I'm real close to them.

What do you think about how decisions are made at DVS?
I think it's really good to have it set up this way, where the staff don't have more power than the students. I've actually been the JC [Judicial Committee] Clerk; it's a very stressful job. I really like it.

How do people get along together here?
I think people get along together really well no matter how their age difference is.

What would you advise another kid who is thinking about coming to DVS?
I'd advise them to be themselves, and that people will accept them, and not to be shy.

What are you thinking of doing after you leave DVS?
I think I'd like to pursue acting, but there's still a lot of time.