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As we pulled up to the school I felt my stomach tighten. “Cheer up, It’ll be fun.” said my mom as I unbuckled my seat belt. We moved to Sarasota, Florida in June, 2 weeks after school got out, because my dad wanted to open up a new law firm. “Whatever.”, was all I could seem to choke out as I got out of the car. Mom said bye and pulled away, and I walked up onto the sidewalk. This school was like the White House compared to my old school in Minnesota, of about 60 students per – grade. I was kind of excited to move, because hey, who wouldn’t want summer all year long? But I was still nervous about going to a new school.
As I walked up the stairs going up to the grounds of the school, I was amazed. There were all these types of people I’d never seen before. Girls with half their heads shaved, people with piercings on every part of their body you could imagine, guys with tattoos on their neck, and people of the same gender holding hands. I could feel my jaw drop when I saw 2 girls making out with each other on a bench by a fountain. Luckily, no one seemed to pay attention to me. I finally made my way through a crowd of people into the school.
If I thought the outside was wicked, the inside was even more. There was graffiti on the walls supported every kind of club you could think of, LGBT, Speech Team, Robotics, Glee Club, even a Positive People Club. It was amazing. An escalator on the right side seemed to go on and on, I almost felt like I was in a mall. I found my way to a sign that said “Office”, and walked inside. A blonde woman who didn’t look past her early 20’s sat behind the desk. She smiled at me as I walked in, “Welcome to Sarasota High School, how may I help you today?” Her eyes seemed to glow as she smiled at me. I must’ve been in a daze at how beautiful she was. “Sir” I seemed to jump back into reality. “Oh, uh yeah, sorry, I’m a new student here.” “Alrighty”, she said as she started to type into her computer. “Name please?” “Derek Radke.” “Deerreekk Raddkeee.” She sounded out as she typed. “Grade?” she asked. “10.” I replied She typed some more, and then got up and moved to a room in back. She came back with a sheet of paper, and handed it to me. “Here is your schedule”, she pointed to the letter B on the right corner, “freshman are on floor A, sophomores on floor B, juniors on floor C, and seniors are floor D. All of the classes you have are on your floor, floor B is the second floor. The escalator at the entrance of the school will take you there.” “Alright, thanks.” I replied, trying to grasp all of the information she gave me. “Have a great day; don’t hesitate to come back if you have any questions later on.” She smiled as I walked out.
The hallway was starting to fill as people made their way up the escalator; still, no one seemed to pay attention to me. I guess in such a big school they have new kids all the time, hopefully no one will notice and make a big deal out of me being new. I got onto the escalator with everyone else and waited until we got to floor B. I heard a few girls gossip about other girls behind me, and guys talk about how good their summer was with their girlfriends in front of me. I was kind of jealous, I was home almost all summer, we live on the beach so I went outside a lot but never met anyone. It was one of the most boring summers I’d ever had. I stepped off the escalator as it reached floor B. I looked at my schedule, trying to find my locker number. ‘Locker Z-101’ I read. Z? I thought to myself. I looked around for a sign and couldn’t find one. A bell rang and the other people started to go into classrooms. I didn’t want to be late to class on my first day at a new school, so I sped up trying to find a sign of some sort that said Z. I wasn’t paying attention to what was in front of me, because the next thing I know, I rammed into someone. “Watch where you’re going” The guy shouted at me. He looked about a foot taller than me, and at least 200 pounds. After that everyone was staring. I felt my face get red, and my palms starting to get sweaty. Luckily, when I turned the other way I found a sign that said Lockers Z 100 – 200. By the time I opened my locker the second bell rang and the hall was almost empty. I quickly threw everything in there, grabbed a notebook and folder and looked at my schedule. ‘First hour, French, Room W 212’ I remembered seeing a hallway with a sign labeled ‘W’, as I was looking around before. I sped through the hallway again, and found the sign. Luckily the room was only about 6 doors down. I opened the door; man did I not know what I was in for.
“Vous etes en retard.” said a woman in a beret as I walked in. “I’m sorry, I’m a new student and I got lost on the way to class.” I replied. Everyone in the class was staring at me; I’m guessing it was about what happened in the hall. “I see.” replied the teacher. She pointed at the white board where a seating chart was written, and I found my name. My seat was in the middle of the room, next to the window. I took my seat, and felt the girl next to me staring at me. I glanced at her. “Hello, you’re new I assume?” she moved her glasses around. “My name is Helen. You are?” She seemed like an awkward type of girl, but hey, when you’re new anyone who talks to you is good. “My name is Derek Radke, nice to meet you.” “Pleasure is all mine” She said, putting her hand out. I shook it, pulling it back after feeling something sticky on it. “Where are you from?” she asked. “Minnesota.” I replied. “Ah, quite a climate change” “Tell me about it.”
We looked toward the front of the room as the teacher stood in front of the class. “Bonjour, bienvenue à la classe française.” She paused for a moment. “Welcome to French class. I’m Madam Platt.” After the introduction she handed out a syllabus and went over what we were going to be doing for the year. After that we watched a video, and the next thing you knew the bell rang and we were all in the hall. I looked at my schedule again at my locker, the next class I had was Biology, Room V 239. It didn’t take too long for me to find that room; luckily there was a biohazard warning sign outside the door so it was kind of obvious.
After entering the room I joined another crowd of people standing in a big group, after a few minutes we were assigned our seats, and lab partners. I was with a guy who had a football jersey on. He seemed kind of cocky, bragging to his friends about their game last weekend. When I sat down he glanced at me and then kept on talking with his friends around him. I felt like a loner. Why wasn’t anyone talking to me in this class? I don’t think I’m an odd person, until a guy in front of me turned around. “Hey, I’m Casey; you must be the new kid who pushed Levi.” Pushed Levi? I thought to myself. Then I remembered what happened in the hall this morning, he must’ve thought I pushed him. “Uh, well that’s not exa-” “It’s so cool! Everyone is talking about it. ”, he cut in. Wow, people are actually talking about me, I thought. “Yeah, that’s me, my names Derek.” I knew I shouldn’t have lied about it, but being new you want people to talk to you. “Wow, that’s amazing; no one has ever stood up to him before.” “Well, I guess I’m the first one. No one messed with me at my old school, I won’t take it here.” I could feel myself getting buried deeper, and deeper into the whole. Casey’s eyes widened. “Good to know.” He replied and turned around. The teacher started class by introducing himself, Mr. Webster; he looked about 70, and had all white hair. Then he went over what we were going to be doing for the year, just like in French, which took a while, so by the time we were done he said we had the rest of the time to talk.
As soon as he sat down at his desk 3 people walked up to me. “So you’re the one who pushed Levi?” “Yup” “Wow, that’s amazing” After asking me a few more questions like ‘Where are you from?’ etc. the bell rang. Next it was time for lunch, the period I was most worried about for the day. Where will I sit? I’m new, What if I sit by people and they don’t want me there? I fallowed a crowd of people down the escalator to the lunch room on the first floor. If I thought the school was amazing, the lunch room alone was the most amazing I’d seen all day. There were about 3 different lunch line options, paintings on every wall, long lunch tables, café type tables, and booths, and even an area where you could eat outside. A sign above each lunch line said what they were serving, Line 1 – Spaghetti and Meatballs, Line 2 – Chicken and Potatoes, Line 3 – Pizza. Pizza was the obvious choice to me. I had a few more stares as I got into the line, I felt strong. At the end of the line there was an elderly lady in a hair net who asked for my name, after I gave it she typed it in and said enjoy your meal. I felt my stomach turn as I turned around.
I’ve never been one to get in a fight. Sure, I used to wrestle with my friends back in Minnesota, but the only real fight I’d ever gotten into was a food fight. There was Levi, staring me down. He grabbed me by the shirt collar, “I hear you’re telling people you shoved me.” His face got closer to mine. Everyone was staring. I didn’t want everyone to think I was a wimp, and let them down, but I knew I couldn’t take Levi. So, I did the only thing I could think of, with the only weapon I had.
His stomach was getting closer to my tray, so I couldn’t exactly lift it over his head, so I loosened my grip on the edges, and smashed my food right onto his shirt. His eyes widened, his face grew red, and everyone was staring. Before I knew it he had jammed his fist into my nose, I was on the ground, and blood was gushing out. Teachers swarmed around and took him away, and I was escorted to the nurse. After my nose stopped bleeding, the phone started ringing. “You’re wanted in the Office, Derek.” The office was the one place I knew for sure where to go, however I was wishing I didn’t at that point. When I walked into the doors the blonde lady who sat at the desk that morning, didn’t have the same smile going on. “The Principles office is down the hall to the left, good luck.” Good luck? I was defending myself why would I need luck? When I stepped in the entryway of the room, there was a bald man who looked like he was in his 50’s sitting behind the desk. “Have a seat”, he said.
I was sent to the Principles office one time at my old school, for “talking back”. The art teacher had told me to go clean up someone’s mess that I didn’t make, and I refused. The Principle understood so I got off with a warning, yet this Principle didn’t look so happy. “Let’s start off saying I’m not impressed. It’s not too often we have a new student who gets into trouble on the first day.” “I’m sorry; I don’t know what I did to deserve to be here.” “Are you kidding me?” he said angrily. “You tell a lie about someone around the school and throw food on him, and you don’t know why you are here?” I was furious, I’ve never been one to upset easily, but one thing that always set me off was people yelling at me for a reason I didn’t believe I deserved. “Do you not see the dried up blood on my shirt? He punched me in the nose, I’m pretty sure that’s worse than anything I could’ve done.” The Principles face got hotter. “I’ve had enough. Appropriate consequences have been taken for Levi’s actions. You not only violated the school food throwing policy, but you violated the respecting teacher policy as well. I do not tolerate people talking back to me, Mr. Radke. You’re being suspended for 2 days.”
When I came out of the office my mother was waiting. Surprisingly, she didn’t look too upset. “The school told me what happened, I’m sorry. You don’t deserve suspension, your father and I have already talked don’t worry about it.” 2 days off of school wasn’t so bad actually, even though I’d only gone for a half a day that year. I went to the beach and watched TV; it was like summer all over again. I even met other people in my neighborhood, but they didn’t go to the same school as me.
When I arrived back after suspension I had a lot of glares, no one said a word to me during French, except for Helen. “You didn’t deserve what you got.” She said after a few minutes of silence. “Levi is the Mr. Relige’s nephew, it’s no wonder he got off scott-free.” “Not even detention?” “Nope, not a thing. But if it makes you feel any better, you always have a place to sit by us at lunch.” “Thanks Helen, it means a lot.” To no surprise, no one talked to me in Biology either; except for my lab partner who snorted “Guess you’re not so tough, huh?” to me. When lunch came around I looked around for Helen, and found her sitting by a mixture of guys and girls. Some dressed in all black, some same gender people having their arms around each other, and some people who just looked, normal. When I sat down they were all really friendly towards me, which got me to loosen up about how different some of them seemed. A few weeks later everyone seemed to forget about what happened, and I started to get along with everyone, even Levi after we apologized. No matter how nervous I was to move to Miami in the first place, I realized that change isn’t so bad after all. It can only make you better.