My first week back at high school was so overwhelming that I’ve been procrastinating writing about it. I participated in classes taught by my old teachers, took a few tests, ate lunch with current students, and had a lot of thoughts and memories flood my brain along the way.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m packing my high school experience into an intense couple of weeks, so I’ve already shadowed a freshman, sophomore, and a junior so far. I’d forgotten that shadowing was common practice at St. Vincent…for eighth graders scoping out the school, that is. The high schoolers deduce that I’m not in eighth grade and ask me, puzzled, “Are you coming here?” “What grade are you in?”
Most teachers had me introduce myself and explain Reschool Yourself, and in general, I saw a lot of blank stares. Maybe I could introduce the project in a catchier way, but I just don’t think that students will get it until they’ve graduated. The high schoolers seem to be so immersed in their school experience that they can’t see beyond it, to step back and reflect on it. Most can’t seem to imagine school being any different, and they certainly don’t understand why I’d want to repeat school if I didn’t have to.
Just a few highlights:
– Taking Spanish classes for the first time in years
– Having in-depth conversations with several of my former teachers
– Being part of the winning P.E. team in ultimate frisbee for two days straight
– Hearing my former teacher Mr. Riley recite the prologue of The Canterbury Tales in accented Middle English, from memory
– Debating my biology teacher on whether achievement makes people happy, and hearing his ideal vision for a school (turns out, it’s my nightmare)
– Finding it liberating to get average scores on quizzes
– Building a meditation labyrinth on the baseball diamond with the Catholicism class and walking it by candlelight that night
– Realizing how I used to say “like” every two seconds, as a lot of the high school girls do, but I’ve outgrown it
– Charting progress: I’m able to be myself at St. Vincent more now than I ever could – or would – while I was in high school, and my Spanish has improved immensely from living abroad
Tomorrow I shadow the same junior I started with on Friday, and I finish out my high school experience with a senior on Wednesday. I can guarantee that I’ll be writing about high school over the following weeks, when I’m in the south for Thanksgiving. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying being among my old teachers and their new students, back in my small St. Vincent community.