Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Girl, (Much) Bigger School

Last night my eldest child and I walked several miles. At her school. And I'm not talking about around a track. We walked those miles in her school while trying to find her classes. Her school is absolutely enormous. There will be somewhere around 820 students in her freshman class. Did you get that? Eight hundred and twenty! That's about the same size as the town where my paternal grandparents lived. 820 souls. That's a lotta souls. And there are about 1500 students in the upper grades. I seriously don't know how passing periods work with that many bodies crammed into the hallways. Do they have riot police? This is all new to me. My high school had three grades (10-12) and somewhere around 600 students total. I knew everyone in my class and knew or knew of almost everyone in the other classes. It's so big, I got a little disoriented.

Anyway! Last night was freshman orientation so we were herded like cattle stood in lines to get schedules, pick up textbooks, pay for lunches, buy an athletic pass, and hand over checks for every little thing under the sun. Except books. They'll invoice us for that. Free and public education...say what?!? After that we headed off to find her locker and then were shown around the school by a mentor (they had upperclassmen who volunteered to show freshmen their way around and answer questions. These same kids will be available the first day--and known by their shirts--to help unnerved freshmen get around.). Our mentor was a sweet, nice-looking young man who had just come from soccer practice. My daughter now calls him Soccer Hottie. Nice. (This is the point where I was again stressing that she was in high school for an education.) So Soccer Hottie showed us Maggie's locker and then all of her classrooms. But, my friends, he did it in reverse order. This is not a good thing when you are a nervous freshman. This means that you must then compensate by walking your schedule in the proper order at least two times. Have I mentioned that the footprint of the high school is enormous? Well, let me restate--E-NOR-MOUS! The map they gave us was printed on both sides of an 11"x14" sheet of paper--and the print was so tiny and crowded--because there were so many rooms to fit on that map-- that it was hard to read. The passing periods are seven minutes long and I believe that the combination of crowded hallways and the enormous building will mean that Maggie needs every single second of that seven minutes to get to her classes. So walking that high school several times over meant that I was foot-sore and grouchy from the crowds by the time we were through. Good thing I'm not a freshman, huh? I'd be crabby all the time. I mean, I like people, I just don't like that many around me at once. Heh.

So last night was a flurry of Facebook postings with schedules and teachers and lunchtimes. It was fun to watch everyone's excitement and nice to see them reassuring each other. I keep reminding Maggie that she was just as nervous about junior high and it worked out fine. I keep telling her that she'll find her way around much more quickly than she thinks and that contrary to the nightmares in her head, the students there will be friendly to her and help her find her way. I keep telling her that she's going to have great teachers and she'll learn a lot. I keep telling her to think positively.

And then I keep praying that everything I've kept telling her will prove to be true.

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