Freshman Year

It was freshman year for me.

I was now attending a large school of about 2500 kids over four grades. I now rode a bus for about twenty five minutes to get there rather than the short walk from my townhome. In fact, the walk to my bus stop was nearly as long as the walk to my school had been.

In my school, there were three middle schools that came together for the high school. This meant that on a daily basis, I was surrounded by people I didn’t know more than people I did know.

Dawn and I did not share a single class. We never did in the middle school either, with me being placed in the gifted program for all of my core classes. I had hoped with some electives and a different structure for tracking ability levels at the high school, we might end up in at least something together. No such luck. And my friend Andrea was a whole year younger than me, so she was still back at our quiet, insular middle school. The other small group of friends I gained in my gifted program were all split up based on interest and electives.

I felt very lost. My favorite parts of the day were the bus rides that I shared with Dawn. We would sit together near the front of the bus, away from the trouble makers in the back and the older kids who weren’t lucky enough to have cars, and talk about all of the new people we’d met, the teachers we had, the classes we liked and disliked. Both of us had avoided the gym requirement this year. We were both taking high level English (there was no Honors English, just three levels of instruction) and had the same instructor, but at different times of day. We discussed the odd layout of our high school, which encompassed three separate buildings. She talked to me about her Algebra class and how hard it was, and I told her I’d help her. Algebra was the one class where I did find people I knew; I enrolled in Honors Algebra and most of my gifted compadres from the middle school were there, since there was only one section per grade level.

My brother attended the high school too, although most days he was picked up by much older boys in a car and therefore not on my bus. I never saw him in the hallways at school because it was so large. No wonder he had floundered last year here. The grounds were so big and the population so vast, someone could easily decide to find a group that fit whatever mood you were in that day. You wanted drugs? Start asking around and you’d find them, I heard. You wanted to miss class? With three separate buildings, there were infinite places to hide and not be seen. You wanted to blend in? With so many students, it was hard to stand out and be noticed.

I felt like a very small fish in a very big pond, and it disconcerted me. I didn’t like it at all.

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