That Elementary School Bond

I have been attending my school since kindergarten. My elementary school is more about teaching children to care and be kind to each other than actual schoolwork. All 52 of us in the grade had a very special bond. Most of the parents were very involved with the school. They would come several times a month to serve hot lunch, teach art class, garden and do special presentations for their child’s class. There would be class parties and parent coffees frequently, which of course lead to everyone being very close. Graduating 5th grade was a big deal. It would mean leaving the lower campus and heading up to the middle school/high school grounds. But the one thing that we were all scared of the most were the new kids. In 6th grade, there would be an additional 30 (or so) children added to our grade and that was Aa big deal, especially for me.

In third grade, my uncle let me watch the movie Rent, which eventually led to a big drugs and alcohol conversation. I’m not sure if my dad meant to but he scared me so badly, I would have periods of time over the next two years where I would just start crying out of the blue in fear of my friends doing drugs and dying. What he did was name off a list – I don’t even know how long – of all his friends who had had a drug or alcohol problem and passed away. It was too much for a 9-year-old to handle. When I received the news about the new kids, I thought they would all be doing drugs and bad things and that is what scared me the most about moving up into middle school. I would cry a lot in fear of these new kids influencing my friends.

In 6th grade, we were lucky. There wasn’t one kid who was bad in any way. They all fit in perfectly and barely threw off the dynamics built over that six-year period of elementary school. The only thing that bothered me about the new kids was that it seemed they were all smarter than us. At their schools, instead of focusing on life lessons they focused on schoolwork. They also had just a different, tougher vibe but those things were just small things that did not really matter.

Then, there was 7th grade.  This time there were 40 more kids and it did destroy our perfect dynamics. They came in, separated friendships and formed new groups. I developed the reputation of the awkward, slightly OCD, preppy, motherly, nerd who new barely new anything about being a “regular teen”. The sad thing was, my friends all separated and went to different groups so I was stuck alone. The good thing was, the relationship with my 52 classmates from elementary school hadn’t completely died.

While currently being in an awkward place socially, I value and depend on these relationships. But then there is also my weakness of being a terrible conversation starter, which makes things a little more difficult. Walking to Latin class four times a week was a great opportunity to catch up with my long time pals. The walk was just long enough to carry on a perfect conversation. Most of the time I would just end up walking right behind my first grade BFF, thinking of how to start the conversation, and never actually saying anything. Throughout the year, there were many days where I had succeeded, and ended up having casual interactions with my classmates. By the end of the year, I had found a solid group of kids who were equally as confused as I was.

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