In a small town, 8th graders usually do not have to worry about what high school they are going to go to. There is only one elementary school, one middle school and one high school. Students are with the same people for all of their lives. In big cities like Philadelphia, if you do not want to go to your neighborhood high school you can apply to other schools and if you get in you may go to that school. In Philadelphia, you can apply up to 5 schools that is not your neighborhood school. There are “Special Admission” and “Citywide Admission” schools in Philadelphia. Those are the best schools in the city. If you go to one of these schools you will get better educational opportunities than you could get at your neighborhood school.
I was one of the students that wanted to go to the a better school than Germantown High School, which was the school I would be zoned into. As a straight A student and a good test taker I knew I could get into any high school I wanted to go to. I applied to Central, Science Leadership Academy, Franklin Learning Center, Engineering and Science and GAMP. At first I really wanted to go to Central. My mom went there so I wanted to go there as well. One of my best friends was applying to Central as well and we were planning to go to Central. It was almost like if I didn’t get into Central my life was going to end. Then when I went to SLA for my interview and shadow day I really liked it a lot. The teachers seemed nice and coming from a small middle school I liked how it SLA had a small population as well. I did not like SLA as much as Central at the time but I thought this was a nice backup plan just in case I didn’t get into my number 1 choice.
In March we got our letters from the School District that said what schools we did and did not get into. I got into all five of my school choices. I was so excited! I got into Central! But something was holding me back from saying yes to Central that same day. It was SLA. I couldn’t believe it. I have been wanting to go to Central since I was 10 and now I was second guessing it. I really couldn’t make up my mind. It was at the point that I was staying up until 2 am on school nights just laying in my bed just thinking of the pros and cons of each school. My mom told my Grandma about my problem so she wanted to take me out to dinner to talk to me about.
It was the night before the due date to let the schools know where you were going and my Grandma and I went out to dinner.
“So tell me what you like about both schools.” She asked.
“Well SLA is a much smaller school and I like that a lot. I also like how as a freshman I can go to the Franklin Institute every Wednesday.” I replied
“What about Central?” She said right after.
“Central is Central. It has always been one of the best public schools in the city. I am going to get a better education there and be more challenged at that school as well, plus my mom went there too.” I replied once again.
“Do they both have baseball teams? I know you love baseball.”
“Yeah they do”
At that moment our waiter brought us our food out. My Grandmother got a salad and I got a bacon cheeseburger with fries.
“Well think about this” She said before she took a bite of her salad.
“Central has way more kids than SLA, like way more kids. You are more likely to play for varsity at SLA way sooner than you are at Central because there is more likely more talent at Central than at SLA because of population.
I never thought about that. I always wanted to play baseball in high school and I wanted to play varsity as soon as I could.
“I never thought about that” I said.
“Just a thought” She replied.
The next day at school I went to my counselor’s office to give her my decision. I still didn’t check off the box next to the school I was going to attend to in the fall.
“Jason this is not a bad problem to have” Mrs. Watson, my counselor said.
“If I were to rank Philly public schools in order I would say number one is Masterman, then Central and SLA at number three. You got into two of the three best schools in the city. Something not many kids in this school or this city could say.” She said in a soft voice.
I just sat in a chair right across from her looking at the paper and listening to her.
“Look I know this is going to be a hard decision for you so you can stay here as long as you can.”
She walked out the office. I just sat there. This was the hardest decision of my life up to that point. I again thought of the pros and cons of that school. Mrs. Watson came into her office and asked if I made my decision. I finally did. I ended up choosing SLA.
Looking back, picking a high school should have not been a hard decision for me. I over thought it. It is just high school. I thought it was going to be a choice that would haunt me for the rest of my life if I thought I didn’t make the right choice. But I was wrong. I am glad I choose SLA. I made lots of friends and learned a lot. I would not have changed my decision.