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A Season to Celebrate Graduates: Jyla Bell

Jyla Bell missed a lot of school, but when she was there, she made an impact on those around her. 

“Jyla has taken her education by storm, being driven, hardworking and determined,” said Loy Norrix Principal Chris Aguinaga. “She faced every obstacle like a warrior and along the way, she inspired many.” 

In the fall, she plans to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College to become a medical assistant, inspired by the health care providers who have helped her through the years. 

Jyla’s health issues, which she prefers to keep private, kept her from fully participating in school, but she said she was able to graduate this year with the support of her family and her teachers, who worked together to ensure she was successful in her studies. 

“Attendance had the biggest effect on me. My health issues blocked me from being in school a lot,” she said. “Oftentimes, I needed to go homebound. My teachers knew my health issues and never had an issue with getting work to my mom. They’d email my mom to see how I was doing and if I needed any work.” 

She got off to a rocky start at Norrix. The transition from middle school to high school was much harder than she anticipated. 

“Don’t come in slacking your freshman year,” Jyla warned. “That’s what I did. I really messed up my freshman year. Don’t focus on your social life. I really thought having friends was going to get me through high school. I needed to focus — that’s what really gets you through high school — and definitely there were some teachers who made a big difference.” 

Her favorites include: 

Anna Gutman, her caseload teacher, who was there for “anything and everything. She would talk to me and my mom about anything.” 

Psychology and sociology teacher Rebecca Layton, who “is the one teacher who tells you when she knows you’re slacking. She doesn’t want to see you mess up. She wants you to have goals.” 

English teacher Lisa Jensenis “just a real down-to-earth person. She was very funny at a time when I had a lot going on and taking a toll on me in school. I had a breakdown in class and walked out, and she was right there and just listened to everything going on. Even when I wasn’t in her class, I could go to her and talk about anything.” 

“Sometimes you just need someone in your life that is very supportive,” Jyla said. “They wanted me to keep pushing even though I had a lot of challenges in life.”

Read about more graduates.