From Here To There

For four years, I attended my local neighborhood school, Mastery Hardy Williams. Being that I spent such a long time there, one would think that I liked it. Sadly enough the experience was everything but. To quote my best friend Tk, who also attended the school with me, “It was a jail. They try to keep us in line like prisoners, insteading of actually providing education.” These words came about due to several instances in which we felt as though we they expected nothing more from us than trouble, and by any means meant to keep us in line. Such as two hour detentions for something so miniscule as to wearing pink socks not navy blue, despite our socks barely being noticeable. Or the always memorable sneaker gate, when my friend Umar was forced by the dean, to color in his white Nike check black because the school had a strict all black sneaker policy. The pinnacle of the madness was during an afternoon in eighth grade, right before lunch. My friends and I stopped by our lockers for a second so that Tk and Victoria get a few snacks. We then walked around and down the hallway, only to be stopped by Dean Robinson who stated, “class ended five minutes ago, and you're late to lunch, so give me your demerit cards.” That was the first and last time I ever heard that you could be late to lunch. But this was my school. More obsessed with expressing their authority, than gaining the trust and respect of the students. This type of environment made me feel that adults didn’t have faith or trust in me. As though in order for me to do something right, I had to be policed, and that I couldn’t have an authentic and trusting relationship with a faculty member. Maybe that’s why I left as soon as the opportunity arose.

Going into eighth grade I had one goal and that was to get into SLA. Tk and I had talked about it since the beginning of seventh grade. We went to the open house and interviews, and for weeks prayed that we got in. I was ecstatic when I finally did, and what a blessing and self transformation it would lead to. I remember my very first day at SLA like it was yesterday. Around 7:30 I stepped off the last step leading from the trolley station, to the wet sidewalk. I stood impatiently at the corner, waiting for the stop light to allow me to cross. A few moments later it turned green, and suddenly a rush of fear and anxiety ran through my body. I was almost at SLA. Truth be told, this was the farthest I’d ever ventured out alone.I slowed down, wondering what it would be like when I walked in. I began to think about middle school, wondering if it was the best decision to leave the place I’d spent my last four years at. A place that with all its issues was still safe and comfortable. I was quickly awakened from this trance by the sounds of footsteps and car tires making their way down the street. Everyone seeming to know where they’re going, and what to expect from their day. Before I knew it I was in front of the green doors. I had no chance to be scared as the presence of bodies behind me urged me in. All at once the noise and atmosphere took over. For a second I was overwhelmed, not sure where to go. I saw dozens of people laughing, hugging, and screaming with joy. Not sure what to do, I took a seat at an empty table by the window. I took my jacket off, setting it on my bookbag, and I sat there waiting for Tk, knowing her, she wouldn’t have gotten their until the last minute. I turned my phone on to see 7:40am on top of my screen. I was slightly irritated that I came so early. I focused my eyes on the dreary scenery outside. Too nervous to turn around and take part in the chaotic environment taking place behind me.

This nervous energy encompassed me for a few days, as I had to adjust to a new place. The one bright side about middle school is that their was a familiarity with one another. Most of us had been attending Mastery for numerous years, and although we may not have all got along, which could be inferred by the numerous physical altercations, there was still a sense of reassurance from the fact that I knew who I was with. However, SLA forced me to step into a new environment, interact with a new breed of people, and in turn introduced new aspects to myself. My experience has been both similar and different to what I anticipated. It has affected me in ways that I had not expected. I remember asking myself things like “Am I smart enough to go here?”, “What if it’s too much?”, “Will people like me?” I was worried because I was stepping into a scene that was very different from the one that I had been in for most of my life. But I realize now that I was carrying the insecurities brought with me from middle school to high school, instead of having open arms to the experience. SLA welcomed creativity, friendship, trust, and family. The worries I had quickly subsided as I began to adapt to my environment and change for the better. I learned to be more accepting of people who don’t agree with me or think like me. I also learned to be more comfortable with and around people who don’t look or act like me. I now expect more from myself concerning the treatment of others and how I interact with different types of people.

My transition from middle school to high school showed me that as people we learn to change and adapt to better function in a new environment. In middle school I was constantly around people who look, act, and sound like me so it was easy to stay in a certain state of mind. However, when I went to high school I changed my outlook on the interaction and acceptance of people. We are people who change ourselves to the ever changing world so that we can feel comfortable in the environment, and so we can be more productive people.

Comments (2)

Christopher Irwin-Diehl (Student 2018)
Christopher Irwin-Diehl

I leanred that you weren't as confident as you are now when you first came here (which is surprising to me, since you've always seemed so confident in your actions to me). I liked the comparison of Mastery to a prison, because that mindset of school faculty is a real and pressing issue.

Athalia Tan (Student 2018)
Athalia Tan
  1. I learned that Jevon went through a change of environment, but he ended up adapting to it as time goes by.

  2. I like that you put your thoughts into this essay and not only explaining what was happening around you.