If you ask Roseburg High School auto teacher Don Zell about senior Sam Minyard, he would tell you that Minyard is the ideal student, but that wasn’t always the case.

“During my sophomore year, I got expelled from school,” said Minyard. “I got expelled for possession of drugs on campus. I would have got in trouble for just the drugs, but I had knives on me. It just so happens I did a lot of walking around town back then — and I lived near downtown and had to walk through downtown — so I just had them on me. Not like I would ever use them, you know, but just a little sense of security kinda deal.”

According to the Roseburg Public Schools Behavior Standards and Expectations, the knife alone meant a one year expulsion. In order to return to school, Minyard had to go through a month long appeals process. Part of that process included pleading his case in front of the Roseburg Public Schools’ board of directors. He was told it was a close decision: one vote in his favor allowed Minyard to return to school.

“They let me come back on terms and contracts but I definitely say that it was a struggle. It was kinda towards the end of the year too so I ended up coming and taking my finals and there were a few finals that I couldn’t even take, ‘cause my grade was so low at that point from being gone for a month that there was no point in it. So I took the finals I could, passed what I could, had to retake some courses — I retook English 10 this year to get the credits caught up.”

His contract included going through Adapt addiction treatment program, maintain certain grades and strictly follow school rules.

“It definitely taught me some maturity. It taught me that I had to get my act together and to take school seriously,” said Minyard. “I want to get through high school, ya know, I don’t want to be here forever, so I had to definitely take things seriously. I also got my habits more in line. I had to quit all that stuff. Yeah, it just taught me what I should be doing with my time and everything.”

Minyard considers himself an average student. He has no love of his core classes, but has always been drawn to the Career Technical Education programs the school offers. When the auto program was introduced at the beginning of this school year, Minyard found a love of cars.

“Auto has helped me a lot. Auto kinda has given me the ambition to get through school. There is a goal at the end of the line,” said Minyard. “I realized I wanted to do auto for a career. So if I want to go to UCC or if I want to do auto right after high school, I have to have a diploma.”

Being new this year, Zell wasn’t present for Minyard’s expulsion.

“I’ve only had him for a year, so I’ve heard that he was difficult when he was younger, but I’ve never seen it,” said Zell. “He’s always been like really great, very motivated and works great with basically every student in class.”

Zell says Minyard recently won a scholarship for students going into automotive technology at Umpqua Community College.

“He seems to be really interested. He is asking all the right questions and he realizes that this is something that he wants to do. We have discussed different options, different schools and what’s best for him,” said Zell.

Minyard sees some of his success stemming from the help from his teachers, as well as Principal Jill Weber. He says knowing that the principal was personally paying attention to his grades and performance made a difference.

“A few years ago, Sam was struggling to find his focus,” said Weber. “Through the many opportunities at RHS, Sam has found just that! Sam has worked so hard to earn his success and has a plan for after high school. I look forward to the day that Sam comes back to RHS to share his passion as an automotive teacher.”

Minyard doesn’t know exactly what his plans after he finishes at UCC, but he knows he will always be a car guy.

“Until I got my license and everything I hadn’t really been a huge car guy, ya know, hugely into cars,” said Minyard. “But since I got my license and with the class, I love cars. Cars are all I think about, honestly, all through the day.”

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at ewelch@nrtoday.com.

or 541-957-4218.

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Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of RHS, UCC and Western Oregon University. Contact her at ewelch@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4218.

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