SUCCESS Foundation: Two Turnarounds

In 2011, two teenage boys in Lake Dallas, Texas, died by their own hands less than five weeks apart, and a third attempted suicide shortly afterward. Administrators at Lake Dallas High School knew they had to intervene.

The SUCCESS Foundation offered its help. Headquartered near that suburban high school north of Dallas, the foundation has a SUCCESS for Teens program that helps kids hone important life skills and leadership qualities. The program centers on SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge, a book given to qualifying programs through the foundation website in print, audio and e-book form. Stories in SUCCESS for Teens—written by teens, for teens—are easy to read and lend themselves to follow-up discussions.

As part of its outreach in Lake Dallas, the foundation ( filmed a video that is now posted on YouTube. Lake Dallas students Patrick Patlan and Daisy Sandoval had starring roles.

Describing Patrick in the video, Lake Dallas Associate Principal Cory Hailey said, “When I talked to him at the beginning of the year, he had a tremendous amount of problems. He was unmotivated.” (Patrick agrees: “I had a lack of interest in almost everything I did.”) After the program, Hailey said Patrick is “really taking this project to heart, and it’s tremendous to see the change.”

When we caught up with Patrick, the 18-year-old was working as a restaurant sous-chef shortly before graduation. Being in the video was “really cool because we’re all able to help out and show others that stuff can be achievable if you try.” He knows his high school diploma is key to his future success.

Daisy had different problems. The 15-year-old describes herself as having “the hugest attitude” and refusing to follow rules. “I would misbehave a lot, talk back to teachers, not do work. It was, like, terrible.” She was often sent to the office for acting out.

“When they told me I was going to have to read this book, I wasn’t happy about it,” Daisy says. “I said, ‘Seriously, do I have to do this?’ Then I started reading it and realized I’m not the only person who’s been through so much. It really did make me feel better.”

She has more school ahead but has made major progress. “This whole year, I haven’t gotten into trouble. I understand that my old attitude wasn’t going to get me anywhere.”

Patrick says, “What frustrates me is when kids who have everything spoon-fed to them think their lives are so hard.” He and Daisy, whose childhoods have been very challenging, know their turnarounds with SUCCESS for Teens came just in time.


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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