Back in elementary school, I had a close-knit community. I enjoyed mingling with every teacher and the students in my grade (there were only two classes, so it was about 60 kids). Everybody stood out and it felt engaging. The school started recently; it was K-8, but since it was so new, the highest grade at the time was 5th grade (which grew every year—now it is at 8th). Their approach was less on academics and more on social skills. There was always time to discuss, whether it was with the class or individual, and working felt like voluntary instead of mandatory (even though it was required anyway). Despite the ridiculousness of this system on paper, I was highly interested in attending school. (I remember one day it was snowing, so my parents decided not to drive me to school. I woke at 10 in the morning, but I went regardless.) I was highly enthusiastic for school, and had a great time learning how to talk to people.
That experience was one-of-a-kind, but my parents moved me to another middle school because they believed the style here would not transition well into high school (which was understandable, but still left me bawling). Even though I faded out of the community, I kept in touch with a few of my close friends and held onto my memories. In fact, I had a few concrete things to remember my school by.
In fifth grade, my school started a program called SPARC (which was ended sometime after I left) where numerous activities were available like 3D printing, robotics, and outdoor photography. Everybody flocked to 3D printing because it was exotic, but most were let into their secondary choice because there were too many applicants. I was let into my secondary choice too, which happened to be juggling.
I only had around 20 sessions with no way to practice at home, so I didn’t gain much in terms of skill. However, I did receive “beenbags,” At the end of 5th grade, when it was well known that I would depart after the year, my juggling teacher gave each of the class three beanbags to juggle with in the future. (I was actually absent during that day, so I received them the following week. However, one of my classmates lost one before then, so they took one of the “extra” ones, leaving me with only two. To this day, I struggle between feeling indifferent because it was so trivial or feeling outraged at the injustice.) These objects were invaluable because they represented something dear to me, so I named the souvenirs beenbags because I’ve been there and had an authentic, amazing time.
Three years after I left, I still look back to my elementary school for writing inspirations and inside jokes with old friends. Although my cat hid one beenbag in an unknown corner of my house and placed the other in the toilet (I fished it out of the toilet and put it on a bath rack since the cat won’t touch it again and I can reminisce in the shower), I have seared the beenbags into my memory along with my beloved school. I haven’t been to my school for a long time, but it will always have a special place in my heart.