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At school, freshman Angelina Molina would be “disruptive, in a lot of drama,” and would make the first move when she got into fights, about five in sixth and seventh grade, she admits that she “had a really short temper.” In seventh grade, Molina tried to keep her temper but then lost it and made a move at a girl. Since sixth grade Molina has been through different schools, fights, “juvie,” judgment, moved to Florida and is focusing more on herself and controlling the emotions.
When she started eighth grade, she was caught with an illegal substance, which she said came from a classmate. After getting caught and questioned by the school, they expelled her for 90 days. After a rumor was spread about how she got the drugs, her expulsion was extended to a year because the administration thought she might be lying, she said.
Three weeks after being expelled, her previous school, filed documents and records then decided to transfer her to Lincoln Jackson Academy Juvenile School for 180 days. She continued eighth grade there after meeting her new principal and counselors who helped her fix her flaws.
When Molina first spoke with her counselor, they talked about how she could control her temper and block out the negative actions of others. Focusing on improving her reactions wasn’t always easy. While at the juvenile school, she met a girl who spread rumors about her. Exercising restraint was one of her first tests. “Juvie isn’t bad if you do what you need to do,” Molina said. She went to her counselor and teachers instead and told them, “I don’t want to fight her because I’m trying to work on myself so I can get out of there and not get time added.” She learned that fighting will only make the situation worse.
Her path towards becoming a positive influence for others was a success. Lincoln let Molina out two months early, so she was done with juvie on June 27.
A New Life
Instead of returning to her previous school, her aunt, Greisha Ortega, persuaded Molina’s mother to let Angelina come to Tampa and live with her. Ortega’s 10th grade daughter attends Leto High School and is also getting her associate’s degree at the same time. “I see my daughter succeeding, but I see my niece in trouble, so I thought if she sees her cousin doing so good that could influence her to push even harder, and do even better,” Greisha said. “So that’s my goal to make sure she’s influenced the right way so she can finish high school and not get in no more trouble cuz there’s nothing in the streets.”
In August, Greisha bought Angelina a one-way ticket from Pennsylvania to Tampa to live with her and her daughter. During the moment, as Molina left her hometown, she wasn’t nervous. Everything happened so fast to her that she didn’t feel sad until the plane ascended and then she truly realized things were changing. Now, she attends Hillsborough and is just trying to get used to navigating a bigger school.
“I know I’m going to be around drama since it’s a big high school but i’m just trying to avoid all that,” Angelina said. She’s trying to join a club and put her focus more on that. Molina still calls her parents almost every day.
Classmate and friend, Dillon Williams says Angelina is “competitive, she’s fun, she likes sports, and she plays videogames,” and doesn’t seem like she was in juvie because she’s such a sweet person.
Molina doesn’t want what happened to her to happen to others, so she wants to say, “just stop, as soon as they get that warning that they’re going to get expelled of transferred, because juvie isn’t terrible but it’s not fun to go through and not nice to have on your record.”