Visiting My High School For The First Time

Visiting My High School For The First Time

Coming back for the first time since graduation.
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It has been three months since I moved into college and a lot has happened in those three months. I have met friends, lost friends, passed exams, did poorly on exams, and have acclimated to my new space. I graduated from high school five months ago. Last week, I wrote about what I missed about high school and today I had the opportunity to go back to my high school with one of my closest friends and speak to some of the current freshmen and seniors. We were invited to speak to the current senior mentor classes by our teacher of the course.

The weeks leading up to this visit consisted of much excitement because it meant that I would be able to see my friends from my graduating class, my friends who are currently still in high school, and many of my old teachers. At the same time, it felt weird. This was the place that I had spent the previous four years and had set the stage for the years to come. I credit this school with much of my success so far in college. I went into college feeling prepared because I had received a solid, well-rounded education from this high school. I currently have good grades and feel comfortable with the workload and assignments because I had been exposed to it early on.

It was weird to come back because my life had revolved around this school for four years. I spent more time at the school between clubs, meetings, and events than I did at home some days. My life has changed a lot in these short five months. I now live about 50 miles away and have an entirely different group of friends. Going into this visit, I knew I had changed and the school would not feel the same at all. That being said, I was excited.

I woke up this morning and felt like I was back in high school. I got up at the same time and rolled out of bed slamming my alarm. I complained and got dressed. I sent the traditional text to my friend asking what she wanted from Dunkin' and hopped in my Jeep. I drove the same route that I had for four years, picked up my friend, stopped at Dunkin' and ordered the same two coffees I had throughout high school. It all felt the same until I realized that I could not park in the student lot in my spot. I parked in the visitors' lot, which was actually closer to the school, and we went inside.

We had to sign in, which felt incredibly weird, and we made our way to the third floor. We were welcomed back into the senior mentor class with open arms and big hellos. We spoke to the class about everything college. We touched on roommates, the workload, and how they should prepare throughout high school. The freshmen heard us, but we could tell they were not fully listening. To them, college seems like a lifetime away. In the middle of our conversation, a group of the other former senior mentors from our class came in and it was like a reunion. It felt amazing to be back and see so many of my friends. In a sense, it felt like we had never left.

After that class ended, we had 45 minutes until the next class we had to speak to. During this time, we wandered around the school and found the teachers we wanted to visit. We made our way down to the school nurse's office because she was the reason most of us made it through high school. From there, we walked back upstairs and wandered in and out of classes. It felt amazing to catch up with the teachers who helped us through high school and wrote our recommendation letters. We would not have made it this far without them. We reconnected with the now sophomores who were our freshmen in the senior mentor class.

We made our way back up to the senior mentor class and found that even more members of our class had arrived. After repeating our discussion from the first class, we were given the opportunity to run one of our all time favorite, traditional senior mentor games, the playdough game. This game is very similar to charades but it involves playdough. The energy during this game is always incredible and it is nearly impossible to play silently. It was a great way to end our visit.

I made my way to the parking lot, dreading the high school traffic. I most definitely did not miss that parking lot. I got in my car and I was off. I dropped my friend off at her house and we said our goodbyes until I am home again in a few weeks. I am so glad I had the opportunity to return. I owe so much to this school and it felt amazing being able to talk about that to those just beginning their journey. You do not appreciate it until you have left. I have missed this school a lot lately and especially my peers. I feel very fortunate to have been able to reconnect with so many people today.
Cover Image Credit: BCREPC

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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10 Pieces Of Advice From My Parents That Have Helped Me Survive This Thing Called Life

I don't like admitting that they're right, but they've helped me through more than they'll ever know.

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As I've entered my 20s and have made it halfway through college, I've learned that life can be hard and challenging at times. Like many kids, when I was growing up, I could care less about what my parent's advice or opinions were. Nine times out of ten, I would do the complete opposite of what they said. Once I got older and actually started listening to their advice and put it into perceptive, I learned that they're right more often than I'd like to admit.

1. Don't take things for granted

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I've learned to cherish what I have because I might not always have it. It's easy to take life itself and many things it involves for granted. They've taught me to take a step back from this crazy life sometimes and be grateful for all that I have.

2. Don't be afraid to put your heart on your sleeve

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My parents have taught me that if you feel something, don't be afraid to say it or embrace it. If you love someone, then tell them. Don't be afraid to put your heart out there just because you might get hurt.

3. Be vulnerable

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In life, in relationships, in your work. Take risks, get shot down, and then try again. Being vulnerable is scary yet so powerful.

4. You can never have too many shoes

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Otherwise known as it's okay to treat yourself. Life is hard, so take care of you. If that means going on a shopping spree every once in a while, then so be it.

5. You're going to be okay

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Whatever it is you're going through, you're going through it and you're going to come out on the other side. It may seem horrible now, but you'll learn from it and be okay in the end.

6. You have to have friends in life

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It's important to have people to lean on, especially on your bad days, and to celebrate with on your good ones. You can't just have you or a significant other to rely on.

7. Never be afraid to share your opinion

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Don't be afraid to put your thoughts and opinions out there because they might be wrong. They could have a huge impact on someone or something.

8. Don't stress over things you have no control over

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Everyone is on their own path, which means everything will work out the way it's supposed to, even if it doesn't make sense right now. Again, you're going to be okay.

9. Happy, healthy, wealthy, wise

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My dad always says if you tell yourself every day that you're happy with yourself or your life, you're healthy and strong, you're wealthy in love and surrounded by great people, and you're knowledgable or wise, then you can achieve anything in life.

10.  S*** or get off the pot

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My all-time favorite piece of advice. Making decisions can be hard and scary, especially if the outcome could be getting hurt in the end. So, you either make a decision and roll with it no matter the outcome or you walk away.

Thanks, mom and dad for always being a phone call away when I need it! Just know that your advice and words of wisdom don't go unnoticed. For others, your parents have been on this planet much longer than you have and most likely experienced the same situations that you're dealing with. They don't have all the answers, but they are there to help.

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