Sitting on the bus the next morning, things seemed a little different than the day before. For starters, the day was much cooler than the day before. The breeze was not warm, but much cooler almost like a gust of wind. As the bus left our stop, I closed my eyes to savor a couple more minutes of sleep, knowing just how many stops there was going to be before we reached McLean High. What seemed like ten minutes later, my eyes flashed open and I looked around to see the old brick buildings of my new high school. I hadn’t talked to many people the day before due to the fact that I was taking everything in, so maybe today would be different. Today was a silver day so looking down at my map of McLean High, I saw that my first class was going to be Government Honors in Room 150. I followed the crowd of people walking down the main ramp and turned right just like the day before. Instead of searching for my class this time, I found that it was right in front of me next to the first stair case in the blue hallway.
As I stepped into the classroom, there was one only person in the room. The man sitting in the back of the room had jet black hair that was gelled up and he had sunglasses placed on the top of his head. The man was reading a newspaper but as I walked into the room and closed the door behind me, he looked up, put down the newspaper he was reading, and walked to the front of the room towards me.
“Welcome welcome. Taking Government Honors?” he asked.
“Yes, and you must be Mr. Howell?” I asked him.
“The one and only.” Mr. Howell began but then stopped to look down at my color coated map. “Very neat idea did you come up with that?” “No, it was actually my neighbor, she was just trying to help me out a little.” “Oh, are you new to McLean?” “Yes, just moved here about a month ago.” “Oh, okay where from?” “Hawaii.” “And you left Hawaii behind for a place like McLean?” Mr. Howell asked me with a smile spreading across his face. “Well my dad is in the Air Force so after five years in Hawaii he was given a new assignment.” I replied returning the smile. “So, you must have seen some pretty cool places?” “Definitely! I’ve lived in Hawaii, Idaho, Italy, North Carolina, Missouri, and California.” Mr. Howell laughed after I said this. “I find that funny how you have lived in all of these American places and then suddenly Italy is the odd one out thrown into the mix. How was that experience?” “The experience itself was a pretty unique one. My dad worked for the Italian Air Force and I attended a local Italian elementary school.” “Yeah, I bet it was a pretty unique experience, Europe is really just amazing. Learn any Italian?” “I caught on with a few words here and there but not much because I was in 1rst grade and attended a school on a military base about an hour away after one year of the local Italian school.” “Wow an hour is a pretty long way to go for a school.” Mr. Howell said as another smile broke across his face. “For sure, but through those long bus rides and the kids at the school, I was able to make great friends that I am still close to.” “Yeah something like that is always great to have. Ever had a school quite like McLean yet?” “Well not exactly. I was going to a much smaller high school before coming here so it’s a little bit of a change.” I laughed. “Well McLean is a little bit of a different setup compared to some of the other high schools that I’ve seen. Before they added more buildings, I used to think of it as a figure 8.” Mr. Howell said as he traced a figure 8 over my schedule to show me what the original layout was like before the new buildings. “I’m sorry I don’t think I caught your name.” “Graham.” “Well Graham, I wish you the best of luck on your second day of school.” Mr. Howell said as he shook my hand. By this point, a couple more people had entered the room. Some took seats in the first row while others moved towards the middle and back rows.
Government was an hour and a half but despite the length of the class, Mr. Howell had a way of keeping people engaged. The class was very interactive not just a lecture, but applying what we were learning to current news. While having a class structure like this was certainly interesting, journalism was still my favorite class. I had always loved writing but now I had finally found something that I could apply my love of writing to. Today was different from the last because this time around, there was no ice breakers and we were getting straight into the discussion of the first issue, which was going to come out in a months’ time. After journalism was lunch, then stats with Mrs. Perry. Every year, there was different teachers that I knew I would be close to, and I knew that Mrs. Perry was one of those teachers from the very first stats class. She was an older African-American woman with graying hair and had quite a personality. She seemed very laid back and was a teacher that would really try to get to know her students, not just at an academic level, but on a level where she could understand our personalities, giving her a better idea of how best to work with us. Stats was the longest class on my silver days, but Mrs. Perry always made the content very interesting, even on the first day of class, so there really wasn’t a time when there wasn’t anything to get done or something new to learn.
The last class of the day was Economics, which was just down the stairs from Stats in the silver hallway. I sat down by my computer and looked around at the different students. They all seemed to know each other and most were in deep conversation about summer and how their course load looked this year. I was sitting alone in thought when a guy who was about my height and wore glasses walked over to the chair next to mine.
“Is anyone sitting here?” he asked. “No, you’re welcome to take the seat if you want.” I replied looking up at him. “Okay great man, thanks!” He took the seat next to mine and we sat in silence for a couple of moments. “Are you new here too?” “Yeah just moved from Hawaii.” “Sweet man I just moved from Korea. Is your dad in the military?” “Yep Air Force, is yours?” “Yeah my dad is in the army. What’s your name?” “Graham.” “Okay hi Graham I’m James.” James extended a hand towards me and we shook hands. This was really the first friend that I had made at McLean so far, and we talked about what any military kid would talk about: where we had lived, the great friends we had made over the years, and many of the funny stories of living on base that we could think of. It was nice to have someone to talk to that would understand, and not just understand, but someone who had just recently gone through the same transition I had gone through. By the end of the day, I could tell that James and I were going to become great friends, and it was from the moment that I had made my first friend that I knew McLean truly was not going to be as bad as it seemed.