College Student in High School

What comes to mind when you think of high school? Waking up super early for a class that starts at 7:30 AM? The bus? Yes, that yellow bus with no air conditioning that was quiet in the morning and raging with screams after school. The window seat was the best part, being able to lean your head on that glass window. How about the bells that signal you when to leave for the next class? And the teacher that tells you that they get to tell you when to leave, not the bell? We then transition to the busy hallways where you either see your best friends or perhaps the people you want to avoid. There are many more memories, but even though it was a crazy part of our lives, there is some nostalgia to it.

Back in ninth grade, I took AP Lit (AP English Literature and Composition). At the time, my teacher made it a super fun class with the little projects he assigned us. For the start of the Hamlet unit, we had a little challenge presented to us. Before our winter break, my teacher gave us all a page-long monologue from different Shakespeare plays. Mine was Volumnia’s speech from Coriolanus. Our assignment was to memorize those lines and after winter break, we would compete as a class for who could present it the best. I practiced rigorously and I still know some words here and there. At the time, I was super nervous because I made it to the final round. I believed that I was horrible at acting, but surprisingly, the majority of the class voted for me (and I never voted for myself). Each winner was presented this ultimate belt and their name would be on a certificate on the wall. Additionally, as a winner, it meant I would be coming back to my high school a year later to present the belt to that year’s winner.

During my university’s winter break, I went back to high school for a few hours. As my dad drove me and my younger sister to high school at 7:15 AM, I looked back at the place I spent four years at. It was exciting. Because I was active in various clubs in the past, I met many people whom I was hoping to see again. I was excited for what I would walk into. How much change could possibly happen in a few months? While walking into the check-in machine, I was beckoned by the secretary.

“Hi, are you a visitor?” she inquired.

“Yes…” I answered with a bit of caution. In the back of my mind, I really hoped that this was not because she thought I looked like a high schooler. Even in high school, I was also thought of as an underclassman a couple of times even though I was a senior.

“Oh, I thought you were a student,” she laughed. Yup, there it was. She must have noticed how much I was cringing because she added, “That is a good thing.”

Despite that whole conversation, she was not wrong. Without even trying, I could blend in with the students. The only thing separating me from them was the name tag on my shirt and the diploma back home. There was a different feeling. The last time I was here was six months ago for graduation, yet I had a different status. I am no longer a high schooler.

I eventually met with my teacher and headed to his classroom. It was bizarre to be sitting in a high school classroom. It was not the classroom that felt different. I have classrooms set up rather similarly in college. It was a classroom with people I hardly know. I made the mistake of sitting right front and center. I recognized a few, but there was only one person who I was friends with. The structure of a high school threw me off even though for years, that was my life. I did the Pledge of Allegiance and sat through announcements. Then, I watched each student go up and had nostalgia from when I performed with my former AP Lit classmates. In the end, I coincidentally passed on the belt to someone who had the exact monologue as me. Despite my low confidence in my performance, I believe I exceeded this student’s acting. You have to get the emotions right.

Afterwards, I walked off to one of my favorite classrooms: the media production room. I missed the atmosphere of being in that class at seven in the morning with my headphones on, editing another video. It was amazing to get to see how much the room has changed since I was there. As the person who restarted the television show, I had much more energy than some of the students in the class. As the class was starting and my former Media Productions teacher was speaking, I really saw how much this class needed to adapt. Social media was much more important and somehow this class has the option of making a TikTok for a project. I felt like I was in the wrong class. (There was also a moment where I hid under a desk to hide from my little sister who should have been in her class, but we will ignore that. And another moment where I went to the school’s library and had conversations with multiple teachers.)

High school is a weird place for me now. I just do not fit in anymore, but that is a good thing. When we are younger, we quickly outgrew shoes. The same thing applies elsewhere. We outgrow places and the people around us in our own ways. But that still counts as growth. As I am walking out of the school and slipping off to the nearby public library, I hear a car honking. I ignore it, but when it honks again, I turn around and see my ninth grade English teacher waving in his car. I laugh and acknowledge that I made it farther than I could have imagined back on orientation day for high school. I made a lot of memories here, and I was finally able to let go my attachments towards this place. It is evolving as the years go by just like me.