Friday, March 30, 2012

High School Confidential - Sophomore Year By Matthew W. Turcotte

High School Confidential - Sophomore Year

So, in 1996, grade nine ended, and summer prevailed across the land. 

September 1996 brought forth the beginning of grade ten, and with that, the start of a new school year filled with some good moments, and some bad moments.

I actually don't have a whole lot of photos of myself during that year because tenth grade was the start of my "wallflower" period. I had such a difficult time making new friends, and some of my older friends had either moved away after ninth grade, or were spending time with other friends they had made. Not that it bothered me too much. I knew that we had to make our own friendships and explore new possibilities.

I guess the hardest part for me was trying to fit into high school. 

You see (and I know a lot of people who attended school with me would probably deny this, and upon retrospect, it's a moot point anyway), for all of grade nine and now in grade ten, I really felt like the square peg in a school full of round holes. 

I was born into a lower to middle class family. There wasn't a whole lot of money available at our disposal, and a lot of times, we really struggled. But, we all survived, and in retrospect, growing up that way gave me a better appreciation for what I did have. 

Unfortunately, growing up in a lower to middle class family did not suit me well at my high school. It seemed like the majority of my classmates came from families who were much better off than I was, and as someone who grew up on the other side of the tracks, I knew that I never could compete with them.

Now, I know what a lot of you are saying. I didn't have to compete at all. If they didn't want to get to know me, then why would I worry? Well, of course, I think that way now. But, at 15, everybody tries so hard to gain acceptance in anything. And, the simple fact was that I never did get that acceptance from the so called "popular crowd". No matter how hard I tried.

Of course, what bothered me more than those who decided that they didn't know me and didn't want to know me were those who used to harass me and tease me based on gossip and rumours that were spread by former classmates of mine from elementary school. When word got out that I had the unusual fear of balloons being punctured and making that great big bang, well, you knew that every week, my locker would be designed to look like it was my birthday all year long with balloons galore. 

Oh, and did I also mention that some of the "friends" that I had made back in grade nine turned on me in grade ten because of things they had heard from other people? It really happened. Of course, the friendships were culled, because let's face it. If they didn't know the real facts, then they did not deserve my friendship. Sad, really.

Oh, and one last thing. In April 1997, I had to get my locker switched to a different area because some callous, juvenile, twisted human being decided it great fun to set my locker ablaze by torching the pictures that I had pasted on the door through the inside vents. And, I bet some of you reading this probably think I am overreacting, but really, that description is very fitting.

Especially what would come the following year...but that's another tale.

Now, I just want to point out that I wasn't exactly friendless here. I did have a few people on my side who were just as outraged as I was that I would be the victim of such a frightening and disgusting crime (and yes, I did and do see it as a crime). There was one person in particular who seemed to sympathize with me, and while I won't mention his name here, it was a great comfort. At least it was until graduation when I had the wool pulled over my eyes. But, again, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Of course, most people who I went to school with saw it as great entertainment. Some of them actually had the callousness of laughing at my misfortune, and took delight in my frustration. To them, I was the token poor kid in a school full of popular kids, and while I'd like to think that it wasn't true...I think it was their way of telling me that I wasn't welcome at "their" school.

And, in grade ten, I actually began to believe it.

But, you know, tenth grade wasn't exactly all that bad. There were a few moments that I consider to be quite fun. With that, I now present the Top Ten Things About Tenth Grade.

10. Baking cookies in Ms. Palmer-Smith's mathematics class when we had a Snow Day that I was forced to attend because of my proximity to the school. (Translation, I was living next door to my high school at the time, and I couldn't exactly tell Ms. Lukassen that I was stranded in my house and could not make it to class)

9. Discovering my passion for creative writing, as I really took an interest in the creative writing portion of tenth grade English class.

8. Seeing a poor student teacher absolutely lose it in the middle of Mr. Brady's English class because some of the students were heckling him. For the record, I was not a part of that group, but it was interesting to witness, to say the least.

7. Proudly NOT joining up into any school activity, club, or sporting event during this year. I was already an outcast...joining a club wasn't going to change that.

6. Mr. Weese's geography class. It was a hoot, and I enjoyed that class a lot, though I'm trying to figure out how Arizona fit into CANADIAN geography.

5. I was no longer a "minor niner". 

4. Being reunited with my friends who were a year younger than I was, and who were starting ninth grade.

3. The little incident involving an exchange student and a bottle of mouthwash during Miss Squire's Science Class. That's all I am going to say about that one.

2. The train wreck French project involving a making of a soap opera video which turned out to be more like SNL than Y&R.

1. September 27, 1996. The day my niece Asia was born. On a P.A. Day no less, so I was there when the news happened!

Of course, there are more memories to tell here, but for now, I think I'll close the book on grade ten. I will say this. I loved the friends who stood by me, and I loved the teachers that I had during that year. Mr. Weese, Mr. Brady, Ms. Keyes, Miss Squire, Ms. Palmer-Smith, Mr. Smith, and yes...even Mr. Ballachey had his moments too (like the time we had to do a skit speaking like German that was fun). Oh, and Ms. Irwin was the best homeroom teacher.

If there's a teacher I didn't mention. There is a reason for it. I feel if there's nothing nice to be said, I shouldn't say anything at all.

So I won't.

It was an interesting year to be had, filled with ups and downs.

But as crazy as year ten was tame compared to the tumultuousness of things to come.

Eleventh grade was next...and hang on to your seats, boys and is a very, VERY bumpy ride.

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