Spotlight On: Aleyx Bernard

Our February Spotlight profiles a remarkable HHS student, Aleyx Bernard, that models how to over-come adversity and rise up to become a school leader.

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Aleyx Bernanrd, subject of this month’s Spotlight.

Holyoke, and particularly Holyoke High School in particular, has gotten lots of negative press over the last few months. Holyoke High School is filled with hundreds of amazing students and teachers. However, this can be easily overlooked, as Holyoke is often only characterized by the negatives. While there are many people in this building that deserve their own spotlight, one student has a particularly moving success story: Aleyx Bernard, a senior at Holyoke High School. In his years here, Aleyx has managed to overcome anything thrown at him and become a role model not just for students, but anyone looking to just become a better version of themselves.

The first year of high school was a particularly challenging one for Aleyx. To quote him, “freshman year was hell.” Besides struggling academically, Aleyx was dealing with a lot outside of school. In just that year, he lost both his mother and his grandmother. That type of tragedy is a heavy weight to carry around, especially when you are only 14 years old. On top of that, Aleyx went back and forth between moving and being kicked out of homes. This mixture of personal loss and the lack of money, supplies, and support led Aleyx to be forced to repeat the ninth grade.

I think the world of Aleyx and am really inspired by his strength and honesty. I met him pre-transition and it would be an understatement to say he’s seen his share of struggle and loss.”

— Mrs. Trial

It’s a fact that many students give up right then and there after failing the ninth grade; it’s just simply not easy to bounce back, especially when it seems like you have the world rooting against you. However, this is where Aleyx stands out from the rest. While he is an independent and courageous individual, Aleyx shared with The Herald that he couldn’t have done all he has by himself, he certainly owes much of his accomplishments to his teachers that never gave up on him.

One of these teachers that refused to give up on Aleyx was Mrs. Trial, a well-liked English teacher here at Holyoke High. Aleyx calls Mrs. Trial his “biggest support system.” Mrs. Trial remarks that Aleyx has remained resilient and empowered, despite having his fair share of loss and tragedy, “I think the world of Aleyx and am really inspired by his strength and honesty. I met him pre-transition and it would be an understatement to say he’s seen his share of struggle and loss.”

Aleyx credits Mrs. Trial (pictured above) as a huge help on his high school success.
Aleyx credits Mrs. Trial (pictured above) as a huge help on his high school success.

Aleyx also owes thanks to Mrs. Nadeau, his guidance counselor, as well as Luke Woodward, director of the Teen Clinic. When asked about who has helped him throughout high school, Aleyx mentioned both Mrs. Nadeau and Luke as people who have “been amazing and have always been there when I needed something.” Mrs. Nadeau also describes Aleyx as a courageous individual, and says “he is an inspiration to those around him and has showed bravery despite criticism and judgment.”

In addition to seeking out the help of teachers and counselors, Aleyx has also made a conscious effort to become involved in his school and community. He is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), a peer leader of Restorative Justice (RJ), as well as a member of the Unbroken Support Group. Aleyx feels equally passionate about all of these organizations, as they have all helped him personally in a different way. Restorative Justice is a student-oriented group that seeks alternative discipline routes – therefore, keeping an individual in school and getting to the real root of the problem rather than kicking them out anytime they make a mistake.

As an RJ peer leader, Aleyx says, “I help support them [the students] as much as possible, which can range anywhere from tutoring them or just having them call me up whenever they need support.”

“He speaks in front of BIG groups as part of RJ,” says Mrs. Trial, “and he’s able to see things from the perspective of marginalized people and communicate that perspective with compassion and intelligence.”

GSA
The GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance) is one of many groups at Holyoke High (along with the Unbroken Support Group and Restorative Justice Peer Leaders) that has supported Aleyx through his high school years.

The Unbroken Support Group is available to any individual who is feeling lonely and just simply needs someone. Aleyx says, “The Unbroken Support Group is a group that helps you feel like you aren’t alone, that you have someone no matter how hard the struggle is. The group has helped me with not feeling alone and gave me alternatives to coping with everything going on my life.” Aleyx serves as a shining example that help is available, sometimes you just have to look for it.

To say that Aleyx has come a long way since his freshman year of high school would be an understatement, “I have a stable home and I’m not scared of asking for help. I matured my way into 12th grade. I managed to make it through, thanks to my teachers that didn’t give up on me.” Anyone who has had the privilege to be around Aleyx views him as an amazing individual. Mrs. Trial has certainly been inspired by him and his journey, “There’s a lot going on in that kid — more than meets the eye — and I cannot wait to see how he changes the world. He’s certainly changed me.”

The Unbroken Support Group is a group that helps you feel like you aren’t alone, that you have someone no matter how hard the struggle is. ”

It’s easy to fall through the cracks when you have been dealt a challenging hand of cards, but Aleyx Bernard serves as a model that it’s possible to fight your way back up.