Frontier teen works to turn life around

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Joseph Navarro’s life took a detour three years ago when the 18-year-old Ventura resident was thrown out of Oxnard High School as a freshman for getting caught with a marijuana pipe.

Trouble was nothing new for Navarro, a touted amateur boxer, who’d been stabbed, arrested for grand theft auto and had his life upended by drug use.

Tired of disappointing his mom, the teen returned to an academic path earlier this year as a junior at Frontier High School, earning A’s and B’s and maturing as a young man.

Navarro has made such dramatic changes in his life that he was named “Most Improved,” during Frontier High School’s People’s Choice Banquet at the Camarillo Airport earlier this week.

It was a unanimous decision by his teachers and staff at the school.

The event recognizes outstanding student achievement at the continuation high school in Camarillo.

“This fall I didn’t want to be known as the person always getting in trouble and sent out of class,” said Navarro, who was joined by his parents at the dinner event.

Principal’s secretary Donna McNair got to know Navarro from his visits to the principal’s office and said she marvels at the changes the teen has made in his life

“When he came back this fall, I hardly saw him. And little by little I realized how much he had changed,” McNair said. “Everyone noticed a change in his attitude.”

It took Navarro a long time to get his personal and academic life back on track.

Determination to achieve a goal is not uncommon for Navarro.

In middle school, he was an accomplished boxer. He began boxing at age 10 and then started competing at local gyms. He won several tournaments, but his boxing career was cut short before he turned 15 due in part to his drinking and drug use.

Navarro continued smoking marijuana and ditching school, which he eventually led to his expulsion from Oxnard High.

He was told to go to Gateway Community School in Camarillo to finish his high school career.

“I didn’t like the people or teachers there. I didn’t feel comfortable,” Navarro said.

Midway through classes at Gateway, when Navarro turned 16, he enrolled at Frontier.

During his first year at Frontier, Navarro revisited old habits and continued to get in trouble and ditch classes. It was also at this point he was arrested for grand theft auto and put on courtordered probation.

He’d also been stabbed in the leg during a fight and sustained an injury in his left eye when he was 17.

Those injuries have left him with limited vision and muscle damage in his leg.

That time served as a turning point for Navarro.

“After that, I didn’t want to get in trouble again,” he said.

“I want that part of my life over and done with because I know I can be successful.” Navarro said.

He has found fulfillment at Frontier and has learned that with hard work comes success.

He’s supported by a small school environment and a closeknit staff.

Frontier teacher Kim Dallape said, “The culture of the school has gotten to a point where we have students requesting to be transferred to us. It’s not because we’re easy, it’s because we don’t let you fall through the cracks. When Joseph graduates, he will leave knowing someone cares about him.”

While Navarro doesn’t regret all of the decisions he’s made in the past because they have made him who he is today, he hopes to stay focused in school and earn the credits he needs to go to college.

Navarro’s mother, Christina Glass, is thankful for the support given to her son by the staff at Frontier.

“Before, he missed so much school that he thought he wasn’t going to be able to catch up or go anywhere with high school,” Glass said “Now, with his new frame of mind, he wants to go to college and has more self-esteem.”

Still a junior, Navarro has one year left at Frontier before he graduates. If he could go back and give his younger self any advice, he would tell himself to stay in school.

Navarro’s goals are to stay focused and go to college.

“I want to stay busy and try to be a good role model for my little brother,” he said.

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