A few weeks ago, I caught myself thinking about high school. Just in a general way, how different things could have been, how unexpected they turned out to be.
I am the oldest of three children and in September, my little sister, the baby of the family, will be entering Grade 9.
Registration guides have been spread across our dining room table for quite some time and I recognize that look in her eye. She has been pouring over the choices and the options, the pros and the cons, and I can remember doing the same thing not that long ago.
I can hardly believe it has been four years since I was an extremely quiet, anxious and introverted kid who thought high school was the most terrifying thing ever.
I have approximately four months until I can say I have graduated high school. Of course I was always aware that this event would eventually happen and have grown to accept the fact that time goes by a lot faster than you think.
However, I spent Monday night of last week at Neelin High School in my capacity as student council co-president at the open house for incoming Grade 8 students.
While there, I had the oddest sensation while seeing all these kids and their parents, some of whom were more shy or excited than the kids themselves. Here they were in all different shapes and sizes, curious and exploring the school.
As a French immersion student, I didn’t really have a choice in terms of a high school; Neelin is the only one which offers French immersion in the city. That being said though, I can’t imagine having ever chosen another school.
I’ve begun realizing my somewhat clichéd love for my school has come in bits and pieces.
For me, it has been everything from little moments to leading an assembly recognizing our students’ accomplishments.
It has been sitting around a table late one Saturday night with people who I’ve gone to school with since elementary school and people I’ve met at Neelin and thinking I couldn’t possibly have better friends.
It has been sitting there handing out papers at the open house and knowing without a doubt that most kids there will be in my shoes and thinking the same way in four years.
They will eventually be sitting there watching all these future Neelinites, who they won’t get the chance to know, walk in wide-eyed and unsure, into their school and wandering a place they know well.
I’ve spent four years in June at a small school where it doesn’t take much to know everyone because more than half the student population is heavily involved in extracurriculars.
Every school has its advantages and disadvantages and I’m sure that you could find kids like me at Massey or Crocus who think the same way.
I don’t believe it when people say high school is the best years of your life, but I definitely believe they’re among the greatest. That’s not to say I don’t get stressed or overwhelmed or angry and disappointed. But I know that this school has helped me become who I am. It has challenged me into getting over hurdles like shyness and anxiety. I’ve been able to try so many things and experience a lot that I’m not sure is possible at a bigger school and I’m very grateful for that.
I always thought it was a cheesy line: "Once a Spartan, always a Spartan," but I know that come June, when I don’t have a reason to be in Brandon anymore and the big wide world will be calling me, I’ll probably look back on these past four years with a sense of pride and happiness I didn’t know I would have.
» Allison Poppel is a Grade 12 French immersion student at Neelin High School.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 11, 2013