It’s been almost four years since I stepped foot in a middle school, so I’ll admit that my memories of it are hazy at best. However, I’m fairly confident that I was never encouraged to block paths, I wasn’t allowed to mosey down the hall at the slowest speed humanly possible, and I certainly wasn’t taught to push and shove past others.
And yet, I never fail to get pushed into at least one locker by some overzealous freshman. I get stuck behind a pack of slow, chattering girls almost daily, and I always run into a few people who decide that the middle of the hallway is a perfect place to hold an impromptu powwow with friends.
I’m curious – when did it become the norm to lose all pretenses of manners? When did it become okay to blatantly disregard the existence of other students? When did it become acceptable to turn the hallway into a place of unorganized – and sometimes painful – chaos?
All hallways are small; there’s no way around it. There are just a lot of students who need to fit in a small space. I understand this, I really do. However, I have no qualms about blaming you, Class of 2014.
The halls elsewhere in the school are, although congested, perfectly passable. Major traffic jams and bumper to bumper traffic only occurs in your territory. All other grades seem to have figured out a system of maneuvering the halls.
It’s quite simple, really. Walk on the right, check both ways before venturing into an intersection, and always leave room for someone to pass should he or she feel the need to.
Somewhere between 9th and 10th grade, a switch must flip in the brain because even the cramped sophomore halls manage to maintain a steady flow of traffic. It’s only once I cross into the dreaded F-Wing that I stall out and waste the entirety of passing time trying to move forward three classrooms.
I’m not saying that it should be perfectly somber, silent and structured. Not at all. All I ask is that you walk at a speed conducive to forward movement and stop where stopping is both appropriate and necessary. There are plenty of places to do so – the mall, the cafeteria, the bulge in the “Falcon freeway.”
I know it’s a daunting task, but look both ways before leaping out into the hallway and sending someone crashing into the wall. If you do collide with someone, and it happens to the best of us, acknowledge your wrongdoing. And when in doubt, a simple “sorry” or “excuse me” is always a good idea. Everyone will thank you for it. By Melanie Sweet / Opinion Writing
How to survive in the wilderness- or the hallways
Attempting to walk through the hallways at Howell High School is like fighting one’s way through the thick of a jungle. The trek needs basic survival skills, like darting and weaving through the crowd or a tangle of vines. One must also have a sturdy knowledge of what kind of wildlife will be encountered along the way.
There are varieties of species that will be found. There are the “gangstas” who insist on swaggin’ their way down the hall with their boxers hanging out and their pants headed South toward their ankles. You can easily get caught behind one of these gentlemen and stay there for the entire six minute passing time, when you can visibly see your classroom, just out of reach. Steer clear at all costs.
The “lovebirds” enjoy their courtship in the middle of the hallway, or even better, right in front of your locker where even a polite “excuse me” cannot help your case. (See the “locker blocker” below.) They get it on right in the full view of the student body. Avoid these lovely couples by evading the infamous “make-out reef,” the darkened area near the auditorium. If your locker is located there, surrender and get your stuff at the beginning and the end of the day. Buy a big backpack. Hopefully this year goes by quickly for you.
And then there never fails to be the presence of the students who stand directly in front of your locker and stay there for the entire passing time. The “locker-blockers” do not care that your Trig textbook is inside that locker or the fact that you already have three tardies in the class and a fourth will give you time in Saturday school. This unfortunate tradition entails a lovely morning spent in whichever unlucky teacher has duty this week’s room with the kids that sharpen their rulers into a handy pocketknife. No, the “locker blocker” does not respond to politeness. They also tend to congregate in large herds. This is the tricky part. The giant blob of kids standing in your way can seem as daunting as parting the Red Sea.
You must use force. “Hey, can you move? Like, now?” Usually works best. Note: Do not actually get physical. In addition to that Saturday school, you will also have a suspension and possibly a trip to the E.R.
Navigating the hallways is a tough job, but at least one doesn’t actually have to deal with lions, tigers, and bears. By Megan Isom / Opinion Writing
“Hey, let’s grab lunch.”
My brother’s head pokes hesitantly into the computer room. I reply with a one of those infamous do-not-disturb grunts as my fingers dance across the keyboard, text slowly pouring into the message box on my friend’s Facebook page. I pause briefly, pondering what to write next and notice his inquiring head still lingering in the doorframe.
“I’m not really hungry.” I add, hoping to shoo my intruder.
“Come on, we’ll go somewhere near-by,” he insists—a salesman sweetening the deal.
I figure this effort on his part is a result of my mom constantly nagging him to “spend time with your sister!”
Regardless, all my facebook notifications have been attended to, and I am out of reasons not to go.
We load into his Ford Fusion and set off towards a local café.
As I stare out the window, watching his Ford swallow up the road before us, I realize my arms are crossed tightly over my torso, and I sit rigid in my seat. I search for the word to fit what I am feeling—awkward.
I was on my way to grab a quick bite to eat with my brother, the person most genetically similar to me in this world, and…it is awkward. I can see that he too, feels a little uncomfortable. Pushing the thought out of my mind, I focus my attention back on the road.
After being seated, the struggle for polite conversation begins. I am making polite conversation…with my brother. While he talks on about the different adjustments he hopes to make on his car, it hits me—this twenty-two-year old guy sitting across from me, is practically a stranger. My childhood playmate is no-more. The guy across from me has plans and ambitions, most of which I know nothing about.
On facebook. I constantly “like,” comment, and post on different aspects of my friend’s lives; we interact daily. Relationships take work. They take communication and effort on both parts. While focusing all my attention on friends at school, I completely neglect my own brother.
I love my brother. Not just because he’s family, but because I genuinely, whole-heartedly, love who he is. I think this, in part, is what makes the realization so painful.
When you grow up with someone—someone whose room is just across the hall from yours, maintaining the relationship is minimal—like a hardy hosta plant that even the worst gardeners keep alive. Now though, we are transforming into our independent, adult selves. It’s no longer as easy as bustin’ out the LEGO and spending the afternoon creating new worlds together.
It may not be effortless, but I look forward to this new stage in our lives. I look forward to getting to know the new, grown-up version of my old best friend, sitting across from me.
It’d be a whole lot easier if he just accepted my friend request on facebook. By Christina Leninger / Opinion Writing
One disturbing look at the small piece of paper showing what I rightfully deserved but didn’t get, was all it took.
“Lia, are you okay?”
It seemed like there was no way to escape its hungry jaws from eating me alive. It started gorging my confidence, feasting on every good feeling, tearing me apart from the inside out. Trying to busy myself with the teacher’s instructions, I dropped to my hands and feet, only as a desperate act to shield my face and hide the tears that rained down to the gray speckled carpet. Finally emerging with a handful of pencil shavings, crumbs, and paper scraps, I discarded my excuse, wiping my swollen eyes. By that time the classroom was nearly spotless.
“Yeah,” I answered my concerned, but happy for the occasion, friend. “Let’s just go.”
After hearing the ring of the final bell of the day for the final time until next fall, everyone couldn’t help but be excited. Everyone but me. The hallways were packed with pupils buzzing, giggling, and most of all, scrambling to their three-month freedom. Besides, this was what every kid waited for all year, but I was more interested in what was so painfully etched into that paper just a zipper away. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. I mean it wasn’t the best. I could have done so much better.
Lot of pressure for a 10-year-old, huh?
I was (and still am) incredibly consumed with my report card at such a young age. And yes, that piece of paper I so dreaded to glimpse at was my report card. Not one, but TWO A-’s were on that card that year. Soon what earned a “Nice job!” sticker and even a good grade wasn’t satisfying enough. When most elementary schoolers sat back for the summer, I, a very peculiar fifth grader, resided in the school year, becoming so tangled in life to a point where I forgot to start living.
I’ve strived for greatness my entire life, which is all I’ve discovered I’m really great at. If I could go days without sleep to finish a project, prepare for final exams, whatever it may be, I would. This constant crazy commitment is a natural ability I take pride in and fight to leave behind with Central Grade School at the same time. Still, that moment in the classroom carried me to where I stand today. Still shy, still quiet, a puppet on strings controlled by academics. Most people want to strangle me for being who I am, in this way. And I don’t blame them. By Lia Williams / Opinion Writing
“Oh honey… I think I can see some bone.”
That statement, rare as it is, really does pack a tremendous punch. The idea that an awestruck spectator can see your innermost structure while you’re fully conscious to be regaled with a story of your own wounds really is quite the fantastic one.
This was a situation I found myself in. Emotions were running high that day. My Gym teacher, Ed, was distressed about what happened to me. Those few of my friends who had been allowed in to see me looked on with somber eyes. My mother was struck half-way between amused and horrified. Myself… I wasn’t feeling very much. I was in somewhat of a trance. The whole time I had spent lying on the gym floor, being carted to the office and ultimately the ER, I was thinking, “Why aren’t I in more pain right now?”
The director of the Lower School was attempting to calm my mother and Ed down. How could he know their fear? It’s only natural for my mother to have been scared. A bad accident always seems worse when it’s not just heard on the news, or read – worst of all, when it strikes a loved one.
As for Ed, he had seen it himself. He had seen me try to jump over the folding table. He had seen it collapse, and me topple over the side. He had seen the leg swing in and – with a dull THUD – collide with my face. He had seen me look awkwardly up, one hand over my face and the other still holding my foam hockey stick. He had heard me begin to swear profusely, despite the daze I was in.
The wound that would ultimately form a scar was, and is to this day, a testament to my innocent folly. Though the scar is now hidden, the memories will not fade. The feeling of relief as I lay down in a hospital bed. The sheer agony – the unrelenting, tormenting, excruciating pain – that immediately followed. And a measly ten words that will stick with me for the rest of my life:
“You’re lucky. A half-inch lower, and you’d have no eye.”
Lucky? The idea seemed strange to me. Lucky is drawing a blackjack, or finding a dollar bill on the street. Every time I think about it, it’s funny to me that “lucky” meant not losing that most useful of tools. Every time I think about it, I realize that my entire life would be completely different. Every time I think about it, I understand why it’s so easy to take these things for granted.
Every time I think about it, I realize that although sometimes my luck seems down, I’ve got something that the world’s luckiest person would be thankful for. By Connor Park / Opinion Writing