From Tragedy to Triumph: How Annabel Claprood ’20 is Making an Impact in the Lives of Others

On February 14, 2018, Annabel Claprood’s life was changed forever after a shooter took the lives of 17 people at her former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The following year, a friend of her mom’s recommended Xceed Preparatory Academy-Coral Springs. Annabel toured the campus, spoke with the faculty and knew immediately that it was the school for her.

“For me, it was important to not only be in a supportive environment, but one that was safe,” explained Annabel. “I know most students aren’t thinking about safety, but it was comforting to me to know that XPA’s Coral Springs campus used to be a bank, so it has bulletproofed, one-way glass and there is a double-screened entrance. Plus, since it’s a small school, people know who is supposed to be there and who isn’t.”

Student-Centered Approach

Annabel, who graduated in 2020 and is now majoring in Business and Marketing at Lynn University, recalls the caring and understanding faculty and staff at Xceed.

“What’s different about Xceed is that it is student-centered, unlike so many other schools,” Annabel shared. “They listen to students and genuinely care about them. They don’t run the school like a business—they meet students where they’re at.”

For Annabel, this was particularly important, as she has suffered from severe PTSD since the shooting.

“All of the teachers and staff at Xceed are incredible, but Mr. Deif, my math teacher was beyond amazing,” said Annabel. “He helped me love school again.”

“No matter how many times I pushed him away, he would come back with, ‘How can I help you?’ or, ‘What can I do to making learning fun?’” continued Annabel. “He never judged me or looked down on me, which would not been the case at any other school.”

Flexible Schedule Helped Budding Entrepreneur

As Annabel worked on recovering emotionally from the shooting, a friend introduced her to a horse named Tango and she quickly fell in love.

“Tango helped me through so much,” Annabel expressed. “I started going to the stables every day and soon became manager since I was there so much!”

Annabel, who also has a service dog, credits the flexible scheduling Xceed offers with helping her discover passions outside of school including starting her own dog and horse training business, With Love Annabel.

“My business skyrocketed because I was able to scale while arranging my school schedule around it,” Annabel noted. “At another school, I would have only been able to work my jobs and grow my business after 4pm, in between eating dinner and homework. At Xceed, we didn’t have homework and we learned how to manage our own time, so I was able to go to school and work without any issues.”

Small Campus, Big Impact

“I always tell people, ‘If you want to be heard and make changes in the world, go to Xceed,’” exclaimed Annabel. “You are treated like an adult and are involved in conversations around your learning; you’re not lectured to. Your ideas are heard and considered.”

Annabel also pointed out that because the Xceed campuses are small, they give students more opportunities to be engaged at school.

“I was a Student Council member, on the honor roll and was the graduation speaker for 2020,” Annabel said. “Students can be who they are—without being ostracized—and they’re not only accepted but valued.”

Prepared for Success

When she was a student at Xceed, Annabel typically took six classes at once, which she said more than prepared her for college.

“What I love about Lynn University is that we take four-week courses, which I was more than ready for. Xceed’s model empowered me to take charge of my learning and I was taught how to tune out distractions by focusing on the work I was trying to accomplish. Looking back, Xceed prepared me for collegiate learning during a pandemic!”

Annabel also noted that Xceed’s philosophy of treating students like they are already in university helped transform her task and project management skills. “The teachers at Xceed do not say, ‘If you don’t turn this in, I’m going to call your parents’ like teachers at other schools do. It’s more so, ‘Your due date is creeping up’ as a gentle nudge. They’re subtly teaching you discipline and responsibility.”

Unlimited Potential

Annabel is now focused on enjoying what she has built in her business while finishing her degree, continuing to help others by training service dogs for younger students. She is also working on earning her realtor license and looks forward to seeing where the next stage of her education will take her.

In her opinion, one thing is for certain, though: “I would not be where I am today without Xceed.”