Lessons From a High School Dropout


Edan Reilly

Killian Reilly- former Palmer High School student, Lever writer, and senior year high school dropout. You may know Killian from his article, “The great debate” an OP-ED discussing the rankings of different elements of the “popular American snacky-snack, Chex-Mix,” as the author describes. Killian, while having only spent one year at Palmer high school, has four years of high school experience across four different schools, all providing him with different and unique challenges. You may be wondering why I chose a dropout to interview, as opposed to a funny, and charming, high school graduate who went on to attend college. I am too. However, what I have come up with is that Killian (5’11”) gives us a different perspective, often overlooked when found in a crowd of people with tall achievements. Killian goes to show what is right for some, may not be for others and that despite your failures, you shouldn’t give up on yourself.

Killian started high school like any other freshman.

“I was always a good student, my grades were good up until my sophomore year,” he told me.

But as semesters passed and grew into junior and senior year, he started encountering challenges.

Changing schools, family matters, and struggles with mental health quickly caught up to him.

“I let life get the better of me, and by the time I needed to start caring about my future, I didn’t care about anything.” Slowly, he started falling behind. Missing assignments built up, grades went down, and truancy was threatened. At the time, most- including Killian- didn’t think of the situation as much more than a rebellious student.

“I didn’t have a breaking point, dropping out had more to do with the fact that I had a lot of credits to makeup, I was too far gone.” Killian described to me that his decision wasn’t one he made on a whim, and by the time he realized it was a possibility, it was his only one. Dropping out became a

consequence of his actions. By the second semester of his senior year, Killian no longer considered himself a high school student.

Since then, Killian has started to turn his life around. He now has a full-time job, driver’s license, his first car, and is beginning the process of getting his GED. Currently, the humble dropout informed he has a nearly six-figure job lined up, no diploma needed.

“Dropping out let me pursue what I wanted to pursue. School took up so much of my time with the way it was structured, which is completely different than my life now with a real job. Once I got out of school, I realized I can do whatever I need for myself.” While he is proud of the progress he’s made since then, Killian remains with the regret of not taking his education seriously.

“I would go back and change my decisions if I could.” He told me. “I’m still not deep enough into life for my decision to drop out to limit my experiences. I don’t want this to seem like dropping out has fixed all of my problems, because the same things I was getting into trouble for then are the same things I’m getting into trouble for now. The same reasons you drop out of high school will be the same reasons you flip up you’re life if you don’t fix them,” He warns.

“If I had the opportunity to go back and tell myself anything, I couldn’t. I was just an arrogant clucker.” Looking back, he wishes he would’ve known how things get better, especially once he got his ish together.

Most of all, he wants others in his past places to learn from him. While he tells it’s not his place to give advice, he says he speaks as a person with experience on this topic, acknowledging still, he hasn’t faced the full repercussions of his choices, and most importantly, does not encourage the idea of dropping out of high school.

“There’s no time to be sad, be glad,” he concludes, adding in the fact that he is, in fact, 6’.