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"It all started when my mother had enough of my behavior. She got a call from the principal say that I was not to go back to school until next school year. This is because I was currently fighting, getting bad grades, skipping class, and just being disrespectful. I was doing this because I want to fit in with the crowd to be popular, not realizing that it was ruining my future.

So that same day, my mother transferred me to another school. When I started at that new school, I was still misbehaving. It seemed like it was never going to end. But then I heard about Guitars Over Guns. It sounded interesting so I joined. When I walked in that first day, I saw kids dancing, singing, playing guitar, trumpet, drums, painting... I mean, it was an amazing experience. It felt like a place where I could be myself and where I belonged. So I joined.

Now I am an honor roll student in high school, I'm a peer mentor, and I'm looking forward to going to college in two years to major in musical theater. As a Guitars Over Guns alumni and being in the program for almost 4 years now, I am beyond proud of the person I am today. I learned to love myself, love others, and just accept myself for who I am. I learned to be wise. I've learned to be humble, and just be happy."

- Santamarie Arocho

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