A Whole New World
Beep Beep Beep, Beep Beep Beep, Beep Beep Beep. The alarm clock informed me that it was 7:00 in the morning, the first day of school. When I first heard those few loops from my alarm clock I was really frustrated not because I had to go to school but more because of the fact that I was up all night because I was nervous yet excited for the first day of school. I finally got out of bed at about 7:10 and got dressed and of course I had to wear something nice or agreeable because I wanted to make a good impression. I was done changing, brushing my teeth, etc. Due to the fact that SEPTA was not something that I enjoyed for a way to commute, my mother thought that it would be a nice idea to drive me to school because it was the first day. I lived less than a mile away from school so the car ride was going to be short. As we were in the car I thought about how will it be different from my middle school, and if the teachers will be less strict. For example, I thought back when I shadowed SLA the teachers seemed to be more friendly than the teachers at my middle school. Although I did not know if some of them really were or if they acted like that because I was a shadow. When we got closer towards the school on 30th and Market, I began to get a weird array of mixed feelings. The feelings that I began to develop were both excited and nervous feelings and this combination made me not know how tell what I was expecting. Before I knew it, we were a block away from school and I had to grab my bag and get ready to hop out of the car. I was then right in front of the school and the car stopped, my mom wished me luck and I opened the car door and was by Science Leadership Academy. I walked toward the entrance of the school and then opened up to doors to my new school and a fresh start.
I went to middle school at Girard Academic Music Program which is also known as GAMP. GAMP was a school that went from grades fifth to twelfth. During my years at Gamp I made some new friends and met pretty chill people. I enjoyed how everyone seemed to all be friends and not cause that much problems amongst each other. For example, in seventh grade the whole grade had a fundraiser to help children in Uganda achieve a better education and I found that very interesting and a great life experience. Also every year GAMP would have a Talent show, musical, Winter Concert, and Spring Concert due to the fact that it was a music school. When it was time to decide if I should stay I knew that GAMP was not a good choice for me. Starting off, GAMP was a very small school because it had only had about 60 students per grade and I did not enjoy that at all because you never meet new people and it made my social life in school less diverse. In addition, GAMP highs school was just like the middle school. It had two groups that would stay in the same classes as each other and it had no electives. Lastly, GAMP was a music focused school and I was not interested in music.
The whole transition phase from middle school to high school started in a way that I remember it very detailed. I remember the time that I found out that was accepted in SLA like it was yesterday. It all started when I was with my 8th grade class on a tour bus for a trip to New York. On the bus ride my mother was my chaperone and she then gave me the news and sad “Hey Jamal I was just talking to the principal of SLA and he said that you were accepted!” I was very pleased because it was my number one choice of schools to go. In addition the fact that I was waitlisted to ⅘ of the schools that I choose including SLA made me even more happy because I was very lucky to get that waitlisted spot. During the long bus ride to New York, not did I only feel happy that I was going to go to SLA but I did not really express the fact on how grateful I was. Reflecting back on this particular moment really questions who I really was back then because deep inside I felt very happy, but I on the outside i just treated this moment not as a big deal and made it seem like it was a minor moment of my day. Although I was very excited and happy about the fact that I finally had the chance to leave middle school and start my high school experience.
The earliest memories I can recall about my transition in Science Leadership Academy was the Summer Institute where it is a few weeks before school and I am already being asked to participate in it’s activities. I do not know anybody here which starts to annoy me even more. As I walk into the building all I can think is why I am here. When I finally get signed in I am asked to take a seat anywhere on a side of the cafeteria because the other side was for SLA Beeber. When I sat down there were two types of people in the room. In the cafeteria there were people that wanted to make to friends that were talking to others. On the other hand, there was people that were on their phone who distanced themselves from everybody else. I was on my phone because I figured that I really don’t need to make friends because I will make them when school actually starts because this is just the summer institute. Before I get a chance to get a good five minutes to sit down and look around, I am told to get up with the rest of the SLA students. We are told how to play a game and I vaguely remember how it went. Although, I remember that we were told to pretend that we were animals who evolved and it was very weird. We had to make weird noises and move around crazily like as if we were told if we did not stop moving we would die. When the game was finally over the student instructor told us to move on told our next activity in a normal tone as if what we just did was completely usual and not odd at all. At this point I then knew that events abnormal and strange as this one will be ordinary during my next few years at SLA and they were.
Getting back on topic, a lot of important moments took place on the first day of school. As I was walking through those two glass doors a person greeted me at the front desk. This person informed me what room to go too which was my advisor’s class in the library. When advisory started in the morning we did not need to introduce ourselves because we all met each other at the summer institute. We were then given our rosters and informed what classes to go. I was then introduced to my stream where we had our first class together. Our first class was Bio- Chem and I already could tell how different it was compared to GAMP. Every student was not wearing the same uniform which made the environment not seem negative and grey but rather diverse. The curriculum that was taught during class was more hands on and we had more freedom due to the fact that we're not in single desk divided in rows. During lunch I met up with a couple people in my stream that I recognized from my baseball league and we talked for a while. From here things got a little interesting. Me and a few people from my stream that I met were walking downstairs and in the stairwell we met up with people from another stream. I do not recall why we were staying there be was began to do so. We were joking around then somebody threw milk at somebody else. “Yo bro, I did not think it was going to bust open! I'm really sorry” I did not possibly know what was going to happen next. Would there be a fist-fight or even food-fight? At first the person who had milk on their shoes was pretty mad but then we began to laugh and today we are all very good friends and look back at this moment on how we all met each other.
As the first few days of SLA went by not only did I experience a new education, but a new social life. Everyday after school me and the new friends that I made would have something to do. The was a big change for me because in middle school after school I would just get on the yellow school bus and go home. My life after school went from the same boring routine to a more collective and thrilling afternoon. For example, after school me and my friends decided to hang out. We all did not know what to do as usual but the one of my friends shouts “Comcast”! I was very confused and did not know what was exactly in the building it was at the time but I agreed that we should go there because it would give us something to do. The reason why I stated this point was because I am the type of person who always has to be stimulated in some sort of way and by giving me something to do rather than nothing was a pleasure. When we arrived at the Comcast building I said to my friends “So where what exactly are we going to do here because it seems to be a play that is not for the public.” We then walked downstairs where there was a food court and it all made sense. We got some food and joked around then from here we got bored and did not know what to do. I do not recall why by we then though it would be a great idea to go to Chinatown afterwards. Due to the fact that I was new at public transportation, I let my friends lead the way to the regional rail train to Chinatown. The fact that we took the regional rail train shows how inexperienced my friends and I were because it would have been much easier to take the Market-Frankford Line. We all began to notice that the train ride was taking oddly long just to got to Chinatown so we I began to have feeling that we took the wrong train and we did. The train exited the tunnel and I heard “You have arrived at Temple station”. All I could think is that we messed up big time and how to get back to Center City. Once we found out by one of the conductors that we just have to take the train in the opposite direction to 15th St we began to laugh. This moment really was a wake-up call that the school life that I will be living after school will not be as simple as it used to be and that I will be experiencing my social life in a new environment. In addition, I will be experiencing it more independently than with a bus driver and a bus full of middle schoolers.
When coming to SLA the largest alter that I had to get used to where the academic class. In middle school homework was pretty light and rarely was up past 10:00 doing homework. Although at SLA homework was pretty complicated. We had to submit it on a website called canvas and we did almost all of our work on the computers that we were provided. The class that really made me realize that things will no longer be like they used to was Geometry. I was always not great at math but Geometry really frustrated me because I was put in that class even though I was not academically prepared and I was supposed to be in Algebra 1. I remember saying to my advisor “Mr. Ames, I really think that I need to be with rest of the average ninth graders because I am not advanced in math and happen to struggle in it.” He mentioned that it was just a phase for starting high school and I will eventually overcome it, but I did not. The challenge of math in SLA refined my whole my entire mindset and it is something that I still struggle with today. For example, due to the fact that I fell behind in geometry, I was not prepared for Algebra 2 which leads to why I am so weak in Pre-Calculus. This is an example of how even my transition from middle school from high school is over its impacts to this very day.
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