The bell rang and 2200 students filed their way to class. Buzzing excitedly after their summer, it is the voices of 2200 students I had never met before. I braced myself for a day just like the ones I have known in the past, yet it never came.
Newton North is one of the top ten biggest public high schools in Massachusetts. Its 200 million dollar refurbishment has made it the center of every conversation for the past couple years. The news that Newton was building a college campus of sorts on the North side drew a good amount of interest from people at South. Both students and teachers were both fascinated and angry at the unbalanced amount of attention North was getting. I never thought I would have the opportunity to experience another high school, but it was later decided that I would be switching from South to North.
On my first day at North, people came up to me and said, “Hi, nice to meet you, welcome to our school.” That’s right. Teenagers actually took time to be friendly and welcoming! I was shocked and thrilled. I felt like this school and these people, whether they really knew me or not, were happy that I was here. Of course that wasn’t actually true, and most of them paid no attention to me, but I felt satisfied in that it was a new group of people with whom I could be anyone I wanted.
I have spent 14 weeks here, and in those 14 weeks never has it been said that I can’t sit with a group of people. Never have a group of people rejected me or made me feel inferior, like an outsider who always destined to be looking in.
In my experience here, I have come to find that the pressure here is the pressure students put on themselves. Instead of the competitive atmosphere of “how many of us will Harvard accept,” the competition comes from our own minds: How good will we be? How hard will we push ourselves? How much do we want to succeed?
Of course here, like any other high school, there is pressure and expectations. There are cliches and gossip. However, in my three months at North, I have found that it is easier to stay out of it then to not. High school will be whatever you make it, but for those that don’t want the constant drama, it is easier to find a path out of it. The separation from constant rumors and gossip I had been craving finally came.
Throughout my freshman year, in addition to gossip, it was all about the cliches. Who do you eat lunch with, who do you talk to in the hall. It was all about the people you post pictures with on social media. Yes, that is still present. But at the same time, I feel as though the pressure to make it known that you have “cool” friends or “cool” plans is somewhat decreased. In my time here at North, I haven’t felt inferior to anyone else based on their weekend plans or their lunch table. Most of that can be attributed to my aversion from gossip and rumors, but, as I mentioned before, the fact that I can avoid those things is important and admirable.
When I transferred to this school I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know which way to turn or who to talk to. At South I had felt trapped within the walls. At North, although every hallway was one I got lost in, I felt as though the fear and the anonymity was freeing. I enjoyed being the person nobody knew, the person that couldn’t name half the people in her classes. North is not a perfect haven, but it is the place I was seeking for a fresh start. Of course, I cannot remain at this school with anonymity for long. But at a place where I feel as though I’m being given a real chance, I am okay with that. I am excited to make a name for myself in a positive way. I want people to recognize me for my strengths and accomplishments.
To describe myself as happy would be misleading. This is high school and there will always be things I wish I could change-things to stress about. Life is changing too fast to describe it with such a broad word. Happiness is an illusion, not a goal. But I will say, in my fourteen weeks here, I am content. I will be here for the next two and a half years, and, unlike past times where I couldn’t seem to escape fast enough, I am okay with that.
Before deciding on North I looked at private schools all around the state. I looked at boarding schools,and I looked at other public schools. There were pros and cons to each. My decision was a big one, as I knew I wouldn’t be switching high schools twice. But in the end, I know I made the right call choosing North.
I arrived at the beginning of sophomore year and expected to be the outcast. I was so very wrong.