A Community United

July 31, 2012
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I, like so many other American youths, have known since the beginning of time that I was not destined to live in my small American town forever. For as long as I can remember I have always answered the age old question, "So, Sammy, what do you want to do when you grow up?", with the simple and definitive answer, "Leave Oakwood," Oakwood being the name of my small, quaint town in rural Ohio. In my eyes I was trapped with Lindsey Lohan, in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, you know the one where Lindsey is forced to move to the suburbs of Dellwood, New Jersey when she knows that she belongs in New York City, okay maybe I'm the only one who's seen that movie.

But all of that changed over the course of a few months during my sophomore year in high school. It was about one month into school and I came running into my science class just barely before the bell, as usual. At first I thought that the room had its somber atmosphere simply because this group of teenagers was being forced to sit in a chemistry class at 8 in the morning, but then I noticed that one of my best friends was crying. Now while I have never been a fan of chemistry I've never wanted to cry about it, so I thought that her reaction seemed a little extreme. When I asked her what was wrong she couldn't even form words and just shock her head.

At first I thought that maybe this was just some normal teenage drama, like that her boyfriend had broken up with her but when my teacher, Ms. Brodus, came into the room barely holding back tears, I knew that this problem was way bigger than a break up. My teacher came in and announced that Jimmy Thompson had committed suicide and was found early that morning. What? was all I could think. I didn't know Jimmy but his dad was a math teacher at my school and his brother had been valedictorian only last year. His sister was also one of my friends, who had served with me on youth boards and on student council. They were the picture of a perfect family. The room was quite. Most people like me, hadn't known that this had happened, but this being oakwood, there were a few that knew and, like my friend, had already been crying.

Being a friend of the family I thought that it was only right that I go to the memorial service. I had already planned on going with some of my friends, so I knew that there would be people that I knew there, but I never could have expected how big the turnout would be. When I got there I was shocked. Every student, every teacher, every parent, and every child that I knew in that community had come out to show the Thompson’s that they were there for them. While the church was huge, as I sat down I couldn’t find an empty seat in the house. As I looked around the room, surrounded by all of the faces that I had known for 16 years I coulddn’t help but feel a change in me. I suddenly saw with amazing clarity just how beautiful being in a small town was. I saw that while there may be moments of boredom in Oakwood, the people that you meet in these small towns will be there when you need them the most. My view of the small town was forever changed and I couldn’t help but wonder why I ever wanted to leave behind the gem that I had found in a community called Oakwood.

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