Not Alone

November 16, 2016
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As I walk through the doors of high school for the first time, I am stunned. I have never seen so many people in one place! Like an ocean rippling before me, the moving people are like waves in the water, the tables are like lily pads resting atop them. As I look again, I no longer see the massive ocean I saw before. Now I see people, hundreds, I know none of them.

This school is so different from Country Day, the small private school where I have been for the last nine years.  Country Day has only one-fourth the number of people at my current school. There, I knew everybody. It is a weird feeling to know almost no one. Although I was happy to leave Country Day, transitions can be difficult. During the summer I’ve been meeting people by going to band camp and summer school, but I still only know a few people. The bell rings.

As I anxiously check my schedule for the hundredth time, I readied myself. Okay Tommy, I whispered to myself, your first class is French on the second floor in room A 201. You have ten minutes to get there. I started to walk. Okay Tommy, walk up those stairs. Okay, now take that right turn. You see room A 203. Backtrack a little. Ahh, there’s room A 201!

I walk into class not knowing what to expect. I see Regan, the one other person who transferred from Country Day.  I sit next to her and say hello. At Country Day, Regan and I had chemistry class together. It was a relief to know someone in the class. I wonder if she knows anyone else at the school. Then, the french teacher, Mrs. Hammerle, introduces herself.  She seems friendly.  Again, I am relieved. She pairs us up into groups to do a little activity. At first I feel nervous. I don’t know anyone in this group, I think to myself. Then, Mrs. Hammerle pulls out some Jenga blocks and puts them on the table.

As we play Mrs. Hammerle’s french version of Jenga, I start to get to know some of the people in my group. I first meet Trey, who’s a tenth grader in our class. Trey seems outgoing and fun, and always insists on pulling the riskiest Jenga block out of the tower. Then, I meet an eleventh grader named Aref.  Aref told us that he is an exchange student from Senegal. I suddenly relax. Aref must also know no one! I think to myself. Not only does he know no one at school, but his parents are on a different continent! As we continue to play Jenga, I wonder what it would be like to be in Aref’s position, with his parents thousands of miles away.  He is alone, I think to myself. Going to a new school is nothing compared to what Aref is going through.  As I continue to ponder, I find several similarities between Aref and I. I, like Regan, Aref, and many others,  know no one. As the day goes on, I became more and more relaxed and confident.  Although I might be new, I am not alone.

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