Growing up, I was always that kid who absolutely loved school. In first grade, I cut the tulips from the flower beds at my house to give to my teacher as a token of gratitude. On the first day of summer after sixth grade, I went back to school to see if any of the teachers needed help cleaning up their rooms. I was always trying to express my love for school, learn as much as possible, and find excuses to stay after hours. With that said, I’m going to walk you through one of my favorite days from high school.
On a Friday morning, I woke up at 5:30am and happily got dressed in record time. I wrote for the school newspaper, The Knight Crier, and I needed to get there before 6:30 to meet a teacher for an interview. I tried to schedule these interviews on Friday mornings on purpose; having a genuine conversation with someone for an article was not only a great way to start the day, but also end the week.
My mom drove me to school that morning, and she dropped me off at the same stop sign that she always did. After I gathered my purple backpack, matching lunch box, and camo drawstring bag for gym class, I waved goodbye to my mom as she drove away, and I stood in the parking lot. I took in the sight of my enormous school that was home to over 3,000 staff and students that morning. Behind me, the sun was rising, and I was tempted to take a picture of it. Instead, I stood in the parking lot for a few more minutes, allowing the sight of the rainbow sherbet sky to fuel my body with energy. Satisfied, I turned around and made my way towards the entrance.
After climbing up the front steps, I approached the front doors. This was my favorite part about starting my day. When I crossed that threshold, I immediately took in the various smells of high school. The chlorine from the pool, the mopped floors in the concourse, the pencils, papers, and books from throughout the building, the cafeteria, the library, the classrooms, the gyms, the auditorium, and the hallways combined with one another, producing one welcoming scent that overwhelmed me as I walked through the doors.
I stared down the empty, dimly-lit concourse and looked to my right. Waving and saying my usual “Good morning, Walt” to the security guard, I made my way to the interview that I had scheduled with the teacher. I swore that the next forty-five minutes were responsible for the best interview that I ever had. I always seemed to say this after every interview.
I made my way to my first class and took the long way just so I could say good morning to as many teachers as I could. I climbed the stairs to the third floor of K-Pod and walked into the best class that anyone could start their day with: News Journalism with Mr. Manero. He has and always will be one of my favorite teachers ever.
As I went through all eight periods of the day, I remember how I didn’t notice how heavy my backpack was that day, how much homework I had for the weekend, or that I had a few tests the next week. Simply put, I was especially happy that day. I spent the last period of the day with another one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Sieller. When the bell rang, announcing the start of the weekend, I met up with a group of my friends, and we made our way to the cafeteria for the next adventure.
For the next five hours, we all helped with setting up for the annual craft show that funds the exchange program. My best friend Nolan and I were fortunate enough to be selected to study abroad in Spain, so this event held a lot of meaning. We found our favorite crafters from Lancaster and helped them unwrap their pottery for hours, flattening the newspaper like pros. Once the crafters were finished setting up, all the student volunteers, staff members, and exchange program trustees gathered in a room just outside of the cafeteria to enjoy some pizza together. We argued about who the crafters liked best, laughed with our teachers, told dramatic studying abroad stories, listened to even more dramatic ones, and passed phones around the tables to reminisce on memories.
We helped clean up from the pizza, said thank you, and made our way to the auditorium to watch the annual talent show. We whispered in awe at the talent of our peers, wondering how we never knew what their hidden talents were.
By the time I left the high school that night, it was well after 10pm. The high school, still alive, sat illuminated against the black sky. In all, I spent over 12 hours at school that day, and I loved every minute of it. Leaving the high school that night, I remember the gratitude I felt for my education. Not only was I given the opportunity to pursue academics, but also explore extracurricular activities. My experience at North Penn High School impacted me in ways that will last a lifetime.
Recalling days like these are why I believe in the power of students, why I believe in the power of educators, why I believe in the power of academics, why I believe in the power of extra-curricular activities, why I believe in the power of public schools.