Drowning In High School

Roxana Halaby, Staff Writer

I was only minutes away from what could be the most important day of my life: the first day of high school. Each step I took brought me closer to Montclair High School, a new place to so many but completely different to me. 

My entire life, I had attended private school. MHS confronted me with many firsts: first day of high school, first day of public school, first day wearing whatever I wanted to, first time being part of a grade with hundreds of kids instead of just twenty-four. 

Walking into MHS was like diving into a body of water and not being able to see the bottom. The minute I entered, I found myself trapped in a flood of students. Getting lost as a freshman was predictable, however, I felt lost inside. The amount of kids surrounding me was overwhelming. I held my schedule like a stress ball, crinkling it up as I hurried around the freshmen building in search of my homeroom class. Weak in the knees, I trudged up the stairs and entered room 601. 

I was in a room full of strangers. I barely knew anyone at MHS, and I hoped there was someone else as lost as me. I didn’t want to feel alone. The teacher introduced himself as I scanned the room, hoping someone would magically recognize me. I couldn’t even name a single person in that room. This same feeling clinged to me as each class passed.

High school is a maze, and it’s just the beginning of my freshman year. I wouldn’t have found any of my classes if it wasn’t for the security guards; they helped me more than my schedule did.

Then came lunch. I entered the cafeteria and suddenly I was transported into every cliche high school movie I had ever seen: group of friends at every table, the one girl who doesn’t know where to sit, alone and scared. Everyone seemed to have found their “people” and then there was me. 

I ate lunch alone on my first day of school. I was embarrassed to be eating alone and finished in seconds. But this changed when I found my friends. I met my first friend in Geometry Honors class and then she introduced me to her friends she had just met as well. Looking back, two months later, making friends doesn’t seem so scary. 

I didn’t expect high school to be difficult. Of course I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, nothing like middle school. Now in high school, especially in public school, I feel like I’m finally in the “real world.” Private school was like a shield. Everyone knew each other and I saw the same twenty four kids in my class every day of every year.

Meeting new people opened my eyes. Everyone went through the first day of high school jitters. 

“I was worried about walking into the wrong class, the people awkwardly staring at me being confused. I was too nervous to start a new conversation with a person I didn’t know. But I was grateful people reached out to me to be friends and sit at lunch together,” said my friend. 

“When I walked into the school I was pretty lost and scared…I was shy and didn’t know anyone. I ate alone at lunch on the stairs but quickly made friends in my Geometry class,” said another. 

What I learned from meeting new people was that I wasn’t alone. Looking back now, the first day of high school seems so long ago; not so scary anymore.