Unless you were living under a rock, there’s no way you didn’t hear about the Beaverton School District boundary change, all thanks to Mountain View…Oh, wait, that’s a middle school. No wonder I mistook it for Mountainside. After the announcement of the district addition, boundary maps came flying out. Being in eighth grade, I didn’t pay it much mind. It was one of those things that you expect to be figured out on its own, like Russia infiltrating our election.
The boundary change wasn’t set in stone until the 2017-2018 school year. For one year, I could attend the high school that I planned to. I was one of hundreds of freshmen forced to move schools. You wouldn’t recognize most of us—we blend in. But navigating high school is rough as a freshman, and it’s worse as a sophomore.
Last year, I attended Sunset High School, the most overpopulated school for its size. Despite the atrocious walls (bricks and yellow don’t go!) and crowded corridors, my time there was well-spent. I had experiences at Sunset that I will never forget nor repeat, such as cramming a week before the test, or asking my teacher for extra credit work when I had an A. I had plenty more embarrassing moments, including locking myself in the bathroom and going to the wrong science class for a week. (In my defense, it was the same course, just the wrong room.)
My freshman year at Sunset focused on schoolwork. One thing that Sunset offers that I miss was the academic competitiveness in the air. It was like an airborne disease. It’s not the healthiest of things, but competition ran in our blood. It wasn’t about getting an A—no! You had to have a 4.0 in the class because otherwise, is it really an A? I also set seven school records in my weights class. Outlifting the boys never gets old.
It’s my sophomore year and I’m at Beaverton. I felt defeated when all three of my letters to stay at Sunset were rejected. Not only had I lost the battle, but it was rubbed in my face. I had to leave all my Asian friends whose parents worked at Intel, but worst of all, I was forced to leave my best friend behind. It wasn’t until I walked through the double doors of Beaverton did I realize that my worst nightmare had become reality. It was freshman year all over again.
The agony of navigating my classes, trying not to get trampled in the halls, and socializing with new people was a new category of suffering that I was unprepared for. My first day of school was chaos. Freshmen have the day before school starts to get to know the school and find their classes. I didn’t have that luxury. As a sophomore, people expected you to know where places were. Throughout the day, I had to ask teachers and peers how to get to classrooms such as 245 and 102. They always responded with, “Well, the two stands for the second floor,” or “By the main gym,” expecting that I knew where those were.
As my year at Beaverton ran its course, I made significant progress. I had more than one friend and I had a place to eat lunch—which, as a high school student trying to establish a social status, is crucial. But trying to establish a social status made it difficult to focus on my curriculum. At Beaverton, the atmosphere is different. Students are driven by community and support, so fitting in was offbeat to me. Instead of conversations being about grades and trying to one-up each other on who studied more, they were about football games and how we were involved in the school. It’s not that Sunset didn’t bother with those things, but sports and school activities were never presented as passions. They were additions to college applications.
Beaverton led me back down pathways I never thought I’d revisit. In middle school, I was involved in theater and loved my drama class. Coincidentally, my middle school drama teacher, Mr. Dery, instructs the drama department at Beaverton. The drama department is how I met most of my friends this year. My first friend at Beaverton dragged me into it when I had nowhere else to sit at lunch. From then on, I never felt the urge to be anywhere else.
Another avenue I left behind in middle school was writing. I had a wonderful teacher that inspired me to explore the depths of literature and myself to produce great pieces. At Beaverton, I was again inspired. My Literature and Composition teacher brought a storytelling element to writing that intrigued me. Halfway through the year, I convinced my counselor to get me into the newspaper class because I wanted more writing opportunities.
Beaverton is the beginning of my high school experience. Sunset holds my freshman year in its pristine, overachieving, IB diploma-ed hands, but if high school are your “glory days,” as quoted from alumni who peaked too early, Beaverton is where the rest of my years belong. Once high school is over, the perfect GPA and IB diploma won’t matter if I’m graduating in a class of robots. I want to know that the bonds that I made and what I learned in school mean something to me because I’ll know it was worth it.