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September 13, 2004

-- Freshman journal --

First day of high school: the good, the bad, the ugly

By Zach Brokenrope

I am one of those people who believes that there is a mental soundtrack constantly running to my life. For example, when I broke the glass window in our living room for the SECOND time, the song “Oops…I did it again” played ominously in my head. That doesn’t make me sound crazy…does it?

So it’s pretty understandable that I awoke on my first day of freshmen year with Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall” droning inside my brain. Was that an omen for my first day of high school? Is being a freshman as bad as I’m told it is? Well …let me tell you about my day.

As soon as I arrived in the freshly-cleaned commons area, my backpack filled to the brim with school supplies, I was pulled aside by Mrs. Vetter, the ninth grade English teacher.

“Well Zach, I’m very pleased to tell you that you were one of the students randomly chosen to receive one of the new lockers in the connection hallway between the lunchroom and the practice football field,” she said in perfectly articulate English.

“Thanks,” I said, my best fake smile plastered on my face. Having a locker in the connection hallway meant that I would be really far away from any classroom and my friends.

“There is one tiny problem with those lockers though,” she continued. “You see, they have to have locks on them since so many people go by them. Are you okay with that?”

My eyebrows lifted at this notion. The rest of the freshmen didn’t get to have locks, in fact, if you had one you got in trouble. These lockers mean groundbreaking privacy for freshmen.

“Thanks,” I replied. This time the smile was genuine.

So once the bell rang signaling us to begin our day, I departed from the rest of the freshmen as they continued down to their designated section of the school and walked to my own locker in the somber and quite connection hallway.

Upon arriving, though, I suddenly realized that the people that had these lockers had all but been randomly selected. Among us six we were a simple collection of band geeks, Math Club participants, and quiet honor roll students.

No, our names hadn’t been randomly selected.

We’d been randomly selected by how likely we were to cause problems in the secluded hallway.

I didn’t seem to be the only one to notice the coincidence.

“Oh God, they chose us by how big of geeks we are, didn’t they?” someone groaned. We all agreed.

I set my backpack down and pulled the piece of paper with my combination on it out of my pocket.

“Left 13…right two times 35…left 13,” I mumbled under my breath as I spun the lock.

Confident that I’d done it right, I stood back and tried to lift the handle. Nothing. It didn’t budge.

Agitated, I tried again. Nothing. For some reason my locker didn’t want to budge, and I soon realized that I wasn’t alone.

“Hey … they’re not opening,” Janny, the first chair flute player said, as she shook the handle aggressively.

So of course being the stubborn teenagers that we are, we continued to vainly spin the locks, finally resorting to the primal locker instincts — kicking and punching — which proved to be an unsuccessful endeavor. Finally, the principal showed up.

“Sorry guys,” he said in the best I’m-trying-tobe-your-friend-not-your-enemy-voice, “but I accidentally gave you all the wrong combinations.”

He handed out the new combinations.

Determined to not lose against the locker again, I concentrated with all my might on the combination. On the last number I took a deep breath and lifted the lock. The door easily swung open. Inside was a freshly painted interior, shiny and new, not yet abused by the many teenagers it was sure to face over the years.

I hung my backpack from the hooks in the locker and looked at my watch. I was 20 minueteslate for my first class.

“Just the way I wanted to start my freshmen year,” I mumbled aloud as I walked down the hall to first period.

***

Now, perhaps, would be a good time to tell you about my core teachers. By that I mean the math, science, social studies, and English teachers, all of whom I hope you and I become better acquainted with as this school year progresses.

First off there’s Mr. Peterson, the social studies teacher. Being only 26 (or so he claims) he has yet to lose his energy and become a burned-out teacher that so often comes after a number of years of “dealing with” students. Still having the energy has made him the “cool” teacher among us freshmen; it’s something we happily all agree on.

What’s one thing that makes him cool? Two words: gum chewing.

Next is science, taught by Mr. Huls, the freshly-30 teacher who also happens to be the dream guy of many freshmen girls’ dreams.

“God Mr. Huls is sooo hot,” a girl who shall remain nameless said to me during study hall.

“Well, um, see being a straight male I really didn’t notice,” I teased sarcastically. “You do realize he has a wife and three kids, right?”

“Yeah … but I can dream, right?” she mused.

“I guess … just don’t let Mrs. Huls find out…she is the Spanish teacher, you know.”

“Shut up!” she said, punching me playfully on the shoulder.

Although I don’t think of him as a sexually attractive or sexually anything he is a really cool teacher. He doesn’t believe in seating charts, which means we get to sit in any seat we want; and he plays modern rock music over his sound system in his room and tells us to mosh. Yeah right, like we’re gonna mosh in school.

Then there’s Mrs. Bart, the soft-spoken math teacher that also happens to have a son in my grade, something that often gets embarrassing when they see each other in the hall. Despite this fact, she is really, really nice and believe it or not … she seems to be making math fun. Yes, F-U-N.

Finally there’s Mrs. Vetter, the before-mentioned English teacher. English teacher, enough said.

***

As the first day continued, I began to drift off more and more in each consecutive class, mainly because all were required to read from “The Handbook”, the manual that directs basically what we are allowed and not allowed to wear to school.

Last year the handbook stated that no “skater clothing” was allowed in school. Feeling discriminated against, skaters complained to the school board about the words and this year the two words were silently removed from the book.

At last the day came to a close, and as the final bell sounded and I headed to my locker I began to think that maybe freshmen year wouldn’t be so bad after all. Just maybe.

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