I prepared to take my first step through the unfamiliar glass paneled steel doors, and found them so heavy, that necessity dictated I use both hands and my back to push them open. Once inside, I tightened all nerves, and steeled for another year of school. The environment itself seemed an ordeal, with all of the raucous laughter, erratic movements, and general chaos abound. This occurred on the first day of eleventh grade. Looking down at my schedule, which I clutched tightly, as if my very life depended on that letter-sized printout. I read the word “Chemistry”, and immediately began searching for the class. That the hall layout accorded with predictable alphabetic and numeric sequences was comforting to me, as navigating previous schools had been a nightmare. While seeking the class, the teacher’s name registered in my mind as a terrible omen. What sort of person is named Killen? As I walked through the halls to reach the class, I gazed at the patterns of tiles on the walls, which seemed reminiscent of Conway’s game of life.
I apprehensively approached the class door, and entered. The room felt sterile, and the air seemed thin. I customarily take a seat nearer the teacher, but an instinct told me to sit near the door, away from him. After taking a seat, I became aware of tension in the air, and of an emotional distaste for this room. Nevertheless, I waited patiently for the bell to ring. When class began, the teacher suddenly began yelling in an unnervingly hostile tone. Taken aback, and intimidated by his attitude, I shed a few tears silently, and prayed that no one noticed. He decided that, after he felt he had the entire class on the brink of vomiting in fear and disgust, he should pass out an Algebra test, and begin a ten minute time limit before everyone had even received a copy. Normally, I would have done well, but this man had me so emotionally distraught, I had been rendered incapable of answering a single question correctly. After collecting the tests, the teacher looked at my test, and began to mock me, and encouraged the other students to mimic his tasteless behavior. I felt so frightened, embarrassed, and angry, that it took every bit of fortitude and self-restraint I possessed, to avoid running out of the classroom, crying like a child. I decided, then and there, that I urgently needed to request schedule modifications before leaving school that day. As first period ended, I proceeded to my next class with caution, where I met a friendly teacher, who made me feel at ease, in sharp contrast to that awful Chemistry instructor. In fact, every other teacher met that day seemed quite amiable, and by the end of the day, I felt much better about the school, and myself.
After the day ended, I returned to A Hall, a corridor with white paneling, several wooden doors, and black and red stripes across the top, to find the councilor’s office. I felt relieved upon meeting her, because she had a very kind face, and a sweet disposition. When I explained my dilemma with Killen, and how I couldn’t handle the class, she was completely sympathetic, and scheduled me for Aquatic Science the next day. I thanked her, and walked out of the building into the afternoon sun. I knew that while I might have emotional limits, discovering them had made me a better person, perhaps more sympathetic and concerned for others than before. I decided at that moment that I should value people’s feelings, and would try to show compassion for people from now on, rather than indifference or apathy.