Wearing the Uniform

September 15, 2011
I have six people in my grade, seven people in the grade below me, and our middle school has a total of three teachers. My school has a strict uniform: certain bottoms, certain tops, certain shoes, certain socks, and no necklaces, bracelets, nail polish, any makeup of any kind, hoop earrings or anything like that. Our gym is also our cafeteria and auditorium. Last year, we didn't get enough kids for a volleyball, basketball, or soccer team in seventh and eighth grade combined. When I tell this to my friends who go to public or charter school, they can't believe it. Many times they ask me, "How do you live like that?" But the truth is, I don't know how else to live.

I've been in the same private school since kindergarten. The five classmates that I have now I've been growing up with for nine years. It didn't always used to be that way, though. I remember in second grade, we had two classes and thirty-five kids. In third, we had one class in our grade but twenty-six kids. Fourth grade, twenty-two. Fifth grade, fourteen. Sixth grade, eight. Seventh grade, six.

For the past nine years, I've watched as my friends switch schools for some reason or another. Some moved away, but most just switched schools. Some because of the small classes, some because of the hard academics. I keep in good touch with those friends, but for the most part, I don't see them very often.

Despite all of this, I love my school. Yes, the work is hard, but it's challenging, and that's just how I like it. Yes, there aren't many kids my age, but I know them so well that they really feel like my siblings. Yes, we do wear a uniform, but I've been wearing it for so long that I'm used to it. I've always been used to this perfect little bubble that I live in.

But, eventually, you have to break out of that bubble. I am lucky, for I have had the privilege of easing myself out of it. It's not to easy being a Catholic school girl out in the real world, though. I remember that on my fourth day of school last year, which happened to be the local public school's first day, I got on our usual bus to find about eight very confused kids who weren't wearing a uniform. They were a group of public school kids, some of them on their first day of middle school. The bus that I ride on was donated by the local public school system, so the kids thought that it was their bus that they were getting on.

I walked onto the bus, prepared to help them out. After all, it would be horrible to be very late to school on your very first day! I was reluctant to do this, though. The kids kept looking at me and the younger kids who go to my school funny. Nevertheless, I sat in my usual seat in the back, and a public school girl in front of me turned around.

"What school are we going to?" I remember her asking nervously. I told her that we were going to my private school, and the public school boy sitting across from her turned around to some of my classmates.

"Your parents are stupid," I remember hearing him say. "They pay money for you to go to school when you can go for free."

"We go so we can learn about our religion," one of my classmates replied, trying to keep her temper down.

The scowl that the boy made was unlike any other that I had seen before and yet to this day have I seen one quite like it. "You guys are so snooty," he said, wrinkling his nose. After that, he turned around in his chair and didn't speak to us for the rest of the bus ride.

I remember fighting to keep my calm that day, although I guess that was not the first time me and my peers had been put down like that.

When I was little, our bus would take us from our school to a nearby Christian school where we transferred busses and then rode home. The busses that we transferred on to were shared with the Christian school, and even they were nowhere near friendly. They looked at us funny but never talked to us--I got the feeling that they were actually afraid of us. They weren't so scared of us, though. I remember how they each took up a whole seat themselves and a seat for their backpack, leaving a total of four or five seats each time for me and the fifteen other kids from my school that transferred onto that bus with me to share for a much squished thirty-minute ride.

I don’t understand why those kids gave us so many funny looks. Yeah, we were wearing uniforms, but we’re still kids. We like to play outside and hang out with friends, not do homework, play sports, go to the beach, have an ice cream, and basically anything that public school kids like to do. We are not the snotty rich kids that most people think we are. So maybe next time you see a lonely kid in a uniform, don’t look at him or her like they have some sort of disease, because they’re really not so much different than you are.





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