Cadence Steenson is a senior at Pivot Charter North Valley, who has a passion for photography. She took this love for photography and started a business, called Sixteen Storms Photography, which was recently featured in Upgraded Living Magazine. 

“My photography business was a passion project I took on, and the Pivot community was really supportive of my endeavor,” said Cadence. “After I spoke with the teachers about it, they started a photography club. It has definitely helped me knowing I have a team of people backing me up at school.”

Cadence loves the photography club, calling it one of her best memories at Pivot so far. She liked how she would both get to see the creativity of her classmates and go on fun adventures. 

“One day we went downtown and our group went around and took pictures of the murals, and we also went to the almond orchards when they were blooming,” said Cadence. “It was really cool because we were given assignments on a particular abstract of photography, but there was flexibility for each of us to take our own creative approach. It was awesome to see the varying results of six different creative students who are all guided by the same environment and assignment.”

In her photography business, Cadence has a soft spot for those affected by wildfires, offering free photoshoots to those who lose their home in Northern California wildfires. The wildfire in 2018 brought Cadence closer to Pivot, as she witnessed the support outpouring from the Pivot community.

“Pivot was really helpful after the fire in 2018, both in getting us back on track and being understanding of the circumstances; they provided us what we needed, including educational and mental support,” said Cadence. “That is just one instance of how I feel cared about by this school.”

Cadence also really values the care provided by educational coordinators in Pivot’s education model, attributing her academic success to the personalization of her education and individualized support. Cadence likes how she can switch between subjects at her own pace and that when she runs into struggles, she can depend on an Educational Coordinator to help within a moment’s notice.

“Being able to get help in a class size of five people by having that one-on-one care and support made a huge difference from when I was in a class size of 30 people,” said Cadence. “My grades went from the mid-B/C range to higher A’s and 4.0s.”

Cadence came to Pivot in eighth grade due to a variety of reasons, and since starting at Pivot, hasn’t looked back. She likes Pivot’s supportive environment that enables and encourages growth.

“Where I originally went to school, I wasn’t really fitting in well with the school. There was a lot of bullying going on, and I needed a space where I felt safe,” Cadence said. “At Pivot, I get to work independently, and I get a high school experience. I definitely have found myself being able to grow more personally, mentally, and academically.”

Cadence’s favorite aspect of her education is that she has more autonomy in her academics. 

“Pivot is a good fit for me because I have more independence,” Cadence said. “The mixture between having structure and being able to go off on my own pace built in me a lot of responsibility that helped me grow academically. I feel more in charge of my school work and my education.”

Cadence felt ahead of the curve at the onset of the pandemic when her peers at other public schools were falling behind with the transition to a virtual learning model.

“I was talking to kids at other schools when Covid started, and they were struggling a lot,” Cadence said. “For me, Covid didn’t change anything because I had already been building these skills in responsibility and independence in my education, and I could receive help as soon as I needed it.”

Cadence feels like the support at Pivot is more genuine than at other schools. She likes how she is more than a number at Pivot, as faculty support her because they have a real interest in seeing her succeed in both her passions and her education. 

“It’s so easy to succeed at this school because there is so much opportunity to build skills in a way that works for you,” Cadence said. “I get excited to start the school year because by the end of the school year, I feel so accomplished and confident in myself because Pivot helped me grow and supported me.”

Cadence will graduate in the spring and is looking forward to going to a university for a degree in business and photography.