Small School Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The first bell rings and the common sound of slamming lockers and heavy footsteps resounds through the halls. The only difference is that this is not at the decibel one might think: you see, our senior hall contains only 35 students. Yes, it's true - no more, no less; it's been about that size since kindergarten.

Growing up in a school like mine (which has a high school enrollment of 170) is an experience like no other. First there are the obvious advantages, like one-on-one communication with teachers. Once you get to know them, you discover that teachers really are not that mean. Also, it's relaxing only having 15-20 students in a classroom each period. There are no tryouts for the football team. If you show up for practice, you make varsity.

But to me one of the best advantages of my school is the friends that are made. From learning, playing and studying with some of my classmates for 13 years, I have made the best friends I'll ever have. I really can't explain how it feels to know almost everyone in the school. I'm a social guy and can't imagine not knowing at least the name of every student in class.

Another unique fact about our school is that we've never had a drug dog in the halls, or an arrest on campus. There are drugs in our school but the biggest problem is keeping all the cowboys from spitting their chewing tobacco in the bathrooms, and, as far as I know, there hasn't been a gun found in anyone's pocket. But almost everyone has a knife so that when they get home, they can cut the twine on the hay bales. This doesn't mean that our school has all hicks though. There is a wide range of students from preps to jocks to cheerleaders, from nerds to hackers.

I really like our school. It's nice being able to come every day and not have to worry about someone pulling a gun. But every once and a while there's the odd parking-lot bout. One downside is that it's a lot easier to backstab someone because everyone knows everything about everyone. Word travels fast and if it's bad in your school, think of what it's like with 170 students, instead of 1,200 or more. Another disadvantage is that life gets stuck in a rut. With not much to do in the community and the closest movie theatre 45 miles away, students get bored. This unfortunately causes some to turn to alcohol. With only one cop in town, it is difficult to control.

But how different are our schools, really? Last year, a foreign exchange student from Germany was here for the year. One night after a football game, everyone went to a party in town. Jan was there most of the night. At about 3 o'clock in the morning, he got into a car with two other people; nobody was sober. They all died that night. Few people in our school have ever had an experience like that because it's not supposed to happen in a small place like ours. I think the hardest part for most kids was when Jan's parents came here from Germany. To have to face them and tell them how their son died put a look into their eyes that I will not forget.

I guess life isn't all that different for you and me. We all make friends and we all lose friends, we all laugh together and we all cry together. Small school or large, we all have a responsibility to take care of our friends. Small school life, so different from those big schools? fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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