I entered The Academy on that first day of freshmen year looking like a deer in headlights. Everyone already had friends, everyone already had their set of people and I quickly accepted that I would float through the next four years in relative silence and alone. I’m sure I wore something special to make a good impression and probably realized no one else cared what my impression was. The girl who I dared to sit next to in science class shot me dirty looks and the other girl in my homeroom who looked familiar from cross country was too loud. I didn’t know these two girls would be key in shaping my experience at The Academy.
By the end of freshman year my family rolled up to the parking lot in our Trail Blazer blasting rap music and running horrendously late. I would stop at my locker and throw my lunch in before sprinting upstairs to sneak into geography, sometimes the teacher noticed and other times she didn’t. That seemed to be a theme my freshman year until it felt like all the teachers figured out that I had potential to be better.
Mrs. Manker was showing me my grades one day in class when she pointed to a final grade of B, I was content. In my mind that was higher than average but nothing impressive and in high school that was right where I wanted to be. She told me if I had turned in a handful of homework assignments I might have an A, I said it was okay and sat back down. Ms. Will’s face dropped when I told her I wouldn’t pursue AP English senior year, she marched me down to Mr. Fenimore’s classroom and announced my decision. He simply gave me his disappointed look and I was dismissed to go back to class. Ms. Diaz coined me with the first term that ever bothered me, apathetic, when she told me the meaning I shrugged and went back to day dreaming.
My voice was usually shaky when I was asked a question, except for the time a middle schooler asked me if I wanted to fight. I laughed, politely declined, and walked away. I watched my class do high school the right way. There were parties that I had no interest in, basketball games I shudder to think about, and school spirit that I was sorely lacking. By senior year, I watched my circle of friends fall apart, come together again, and fall right back apart. Our ceremony at the end of the year was a breeze for me, I was the first one out of that building and felt a giant relief off my shoulders.
I am four years removed from The Academy of Charter Schools and even farther removed from my memories of high school. Yet a recent event suddenly brought all that back for me. Not all the bad parts of high school rather, the people who were so proud to be Wildcats. The suicide of a former classmate has left our small community shaken a bit. He was, after all, the focal point for out laughs in class and was always a source of smiles. I watch as everyday my Facebook feed is filled with goodbyes to him and questions about how he could do something like this.
How could anyone?
I never liked The Academy of Charter Schools, then again, I don’t think I would have liked any high school I was stuck in. I did like going to baseball games to watch my brothers and classmates play. The boy was a pitcher for our team, his tall lanky character standing on the mound with a goofy smile. You could hear him from the stands as he cheered on his teammates and friends. His voice echoed across the soccer field while I had practice and he had baseball. He was always a friendly face in the crowd, always managing to make me smile.
May he rest in peace.