Everything, I believe, starts with a question. So I think it is fitting to pose a question to start. “How did I get here?” Let me rephrase that since that seems a little broad. I do know how I got into the world. I’ve had the bird and the bees talk so maybe the more fitting question/s is “How did I get here in SLA? How did I change to the point that I am comfortable here in this school that I, at first, didn’t even want to go to?” I have asked myself this question constantly. And now as I sit here with my friends in a huge circle as we trade gifts, I will finally sit down and try to answer it. How did I get here surrounded by such wonderful people?
Walking down the halls of Wagner Middle School, I walked through the middle. There were only three types of people who walk down the middle, the trouble makers, teachers and the student government. And being in my third year of student government, I walked down the middle with all the confidence in the world . It was almost the end of my eighth grade year and it was around the time that everyone was receiving our acceptances to high schools. Finally making it to the office with my friend Kierra in tow we walked in collecting our paper that told us what schools we got into. We were hoping on going to Central together for the longest while. We took a deep breath before opening our letters. I didn’t even bother to read the letter carefully opting to look at the schools I got accepted to.
‘Palumbo-Center City- Accepted
Some other school I don’t even remember- Accepted
Science Leadership Academy- Accepted
Central High School- Waitlisted’
Despite everything, I was angry. Not sad. Angry. I felt like they should be honored that I was applying to their school. They should be saying, “She’s 12 and she’s applying to our school!? We have to let her in!” If you couldn’t guess, I had an ego and a large one at that over the fact that I was younger than everyone else. Trying to shake off my anger, I looked over at Kierra to see if she was having a better time than me. She, however, was not. She was bawling her eyes out. I thanked the secretary and led Kierra out of the office. We went to the bathroom, cleaned her up and then went back to where our other friends were waiting. Turns out Kierra had been flat out rejected as well as everyone else. I was the only one that was waitlisted. They tried to convince me to go there held my ground saying I would rather go to Palumbo with them until our math teacher heard us. He gave the class a worksheet and called me outside and asked to see my list of schools that I got into. I still remember the words Mr. Oh said to me to this day. ‘Paul-Ann, I know you want to be with your friends and all but you need to think about what’s best for you. Palumbo won’t show your true nature and waiting on a school that waitlisted you will not be good for you. Go to SLA. You’ll love it there.” Not even wanting to listen to him, I nodded and he let me back in the class.
I went home to my mother and told her the results of what schools I got into and my decision. She said “No.” She didn’t believe that was a good idea. “ You are going to SLA, you can make new friends.” I couldn’t believe that she was doing this to me but I nodded and accepted that I was going to SLA whether I wanted to or not.
Fast forward to August 2014, Summer Institute of SLA. I still haven’t changed my mind about not wanting to go to SLA. I still knew no one. No one except Sam and even then we weren’t close. My ego had gotten me in trouble with him already. I rather not share how but it was not fun. All I can tell you is that it was a wake up call. A wake up call thatat I’m not better than everyone. I’m not the best even if I am younger. Thankfully, this lowered my ego but it also lowered my self confidence into dangerous territory. I no longer would walk in the center of things but tend to stay closer to the walls. I wouldn’t speak up about my age in fear people would judge me rather than praise me. So going to SLA after this change while knowing no one, it was very scary. I didn’t have any confidence to make any friends and I was scared of staying alone and becoming a loner.
“Are you okay?” Meet Alexa Lahr, a sweet and model worthy girl who decided to talk to me.
“Y-Yes. Sorry.” I also had a habit of apologizing for no reason.
“No problem. You look scared, how about staying by me for today?” I nodded without hesitation. She was really nice to me and I realized that being here might not be so bad. Until the first day of school. We were shown our advisories and luckily Alexa was in mine, however, she had already formed a group and I was once again left alone. We were forced to do ice breakers and sit with people you didn’t already know, so I chose to sit with three girls. They introduced themselves as Lily, Jhazzelle and Jae. I grew closer to Jae until we were split into streams and once again I was forced away from someone I got close to. I decided from then on not to talk to anyone. In our streams, we were introduced to our Bio-Chem teacher, Ms. Sessa. She put me at a table with Sam, a girl and a guy. The girl introduced herself as Avery, very wildly. I already liked Avery. She was everything I wanted to be. Not afraid to be who I want to be without the ego. The other person was CJ. CJ introduced himself with a joke following it. I really liked my group already. Who knew these would be the people I grew the closest with these following high school years,
“Paul-Ann are you there?” I hear Sam’s voice ring out. I was brought out of my memories from his voice. I smile and shake my head as CJ makes a weird joke. CJ, my wonderfully weird friend. Avery proposes a game and while everyone says yes, I decide to sit out choosing to observe. Avery, the girl I like to think of as a sister. Eleanor proposes BS. Eleanor, the one I like to think of as a motherly figure, the mommy of the group. Jessica smiles deviously but we all know she sucks at lying. Jessica, another one that I like to think of as a sister. Halfway through the game, Zoe screams, a sure sign that she is losing. Zoe, although I was never close to her, I’m glad to have her as a friend. Claire tries to calm her down. Claire, a total sweetheart, a great friend. Sam just shakes his head. And then there’s Sam. My ex but we’re not those exes that hate each other. Nah we’re still friends. My friend group that I love soo much. I’m glad to have them. No matter what I went through and how much I have change, I will never regret my change and how much I left behind. If anything, I’m glad.