Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rant #575: School's In

Today is the first day of school for lots of kids across the country.

In my neck of the woods, my son starts high school today, or more to the point, the main high school.

In our school district, there are two high schools. One is for ninth grade only. The school people here believe that it is not good to mix ninth graders with the older kids. Then you have the main high school, which is for 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade.

It's almost akin to a ballplayer being in the minors, and now he is in the major leagues.

I remember when my daughter first went to high school. The school was huge, much larger than her middle school, and I almost thought she would get lost in its immense size.

She didn't, but I did, every time I went to parent-teacher conferences and other events at the school.

My daughter lived in another district (her mom and I are divorced), so my son is going to a different high school ... the school that I went to when I was in high school, so he is the second generation of my family to go to this school (my sister went there too).

I remember my first day of high school. We had only moved into the neighborhood a few weeks before from a seven-year hitch in the neighborhood of my youth, Rochdale Village, Jamaica, Queens. I was supposed to go to the since-closed Springfield Gardens High School, where all my friends were going, but we moved, so here I was, stuck in a neighborhood I didn't know in a school I wasn't the least bit familiar with.

I didn't know a soul, and the first few days were hard getting acclimated to the school and the people around me. Heck, looking back, I never got acclimated, not in the four years I was there. I was like a man without a country, and I never, ever, felt comfortable in that school.

I remember telling my mother that I didn't have to dress that great when I went to school on Long Island. Not that I dressed to the nines when I was in school in Queens, but there was a casualness in the Long Island school that I never saw in my old school in Queens. I remember seeing girls come to school in bikini tops and guys coming to school in shorts, and I knew that my nice shirt and pants made me stand out even more.

I absolutely hated high school. I was different from the rest of the kids due to my upbringing, and I think they knew it, and I certainly knew it.

I never got treated as a peer of these kids I went to high school with. I was made fun of, harassed, and in today's world, yes, I was bullied.

I was an SP student in the New York City schools, but in high school, my grades dropped off to the point that I had to struggle to get a B average for my entire four years there. I don't remember if I got it or not, but I know I struggled, and picked up on my grades in 11th and 12th grades.

It really didn't work out for me in high school, not at all.

Now my son enters this same school.

Yes, I have my reservations and my doubts. I hope he fits in much better than I did. He will be with kids he has grown up with and has gone to school with since kindergarten, which is a plus on his side.

He is extremely shy and is a special ed kid, which is a minus.

But I think he will acclimate himself better than I did. I stood out, but I don't think that he does. He should be able to blend into the high school population much better than I ever did.

I think he will do fine. At least I hope so.

In this case, he should not follow his father's footsteps.

He should create his own.

And I think he can do it.

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