I plop down in a seat in the back row and drop my book bag down on my desk, sighing. After waiting a moment for my homeroom teacher to start class, I put my earphones in and crank my playlist― Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Mayday Parade, Parachute, Sleeping With Sirens, Paramore, Never Shout Never, Macklemore, Jason Mraz and various other bands blare through the tiny speakers as I watch other freshmen trickle into the room.
After another five minutes or so, Mrs. Schou walks in. "Hello, class," she says cheerfully. The only reply is a handful of moans and unenthusiastic 'good morning' greetings. "Oh, come on. We can do better than that, can't we? Hello, class!" She yells. This time, she gets a better response.
"Good morning," a mumbling group of kids says back. Some dude who thinks he’s being cool calls out above the rest in a shout: "Good moooorning, teacher lady!"
Mrs. Schou nods. “That’s better. Now, I‘m gonna go quickly over the basic rules of our high school and then you‘ll all get your Student Handbooks.”
She does role call and then moves on to explaining that we we're only going to have homeroom a few times during the school year. Then, she picks up a student planner and skims through the dress code and other bits of stuff that we probably need to know but, in the fogginess of being freshmen, don't care about. When she's done going through all the formalities, she goes over to her desk in the corner of the room and grabs a clipboard. "When I call your name, come up and get your student plan books. Eva Alverez?"
A tall, tan, slender girl with Aeropostale clothes and dark chestnut-colored hair goes up to the front of the room and signs her initials on a piece of paper. Mrs. Schou hands her an orange and black planner— our school colors.
The teacher continues down the list alphabetically. Knowing it'll be a while before she gets to me, I put an ear bud in one ear and listen to music while she calls names.
"Jermaine Travis, Madison Vandevoorde. . . Cassidy Way." My heart involuntarily skips a beat in response. Hearing a stranger speak my full name has always made me feel weird. It wasn't just that, though. It didn't hit me until just now. Walking in front of the whole class and receiving the first bunch of eyes that judge people for no apparent reason. What fun it always is.
Not too concerned about the judgmental thing at the moment, I walk up to Mrs. Schou's desk and sign C.W. on the roster by my name and she gives me the planner. It's not that I'm insecure about myself, I just detest shallow people. And it looks like there're at least five people like that in this room. I thank the teacher quietly for the book and go back to my desk.
She finishes that last few people on the roster that come after me and then stands in the front of the class again. "All right, I got everyone, right?" A few people nod. "Good. Now, does everybody know where they're going?"
One kid raises his hand. "Where's. . . uh. . ." He checks his schedule, then starts over. "Where's 216 South?"
"Down this hall, then a few doors down on the right. Anyone else?"
Mrs. Schou continues on giving a few other people directions while I turn my mp3 player off and wrap my earphones around it. She gives us the okay to talk for the last minute or so before the bell to first period rings. I use the time to glance through my student planner. It's a lot like a schedule planner that some professional person would use as a different form of their "little black book". I like the cover; the front is a picture of a panther (our school's mascot) and 13-14 in big block numbers right above the panther. I like the back cover especially, though. It's a bunch of expertly hand-drawn paw prints. It's easy to tell that whoever drew the design for the back cover outlined the paws in thick black marker and then shading the background in with orange colored pencil. This person was really good at drawing and coloring.
The bell rings and people rush out. I take my time, but don't linger in the classroom. Making my way through all the people — wow, there are a lot of people — and follow the numbers at the top of each classroom door. 256 North is the room for my first period, CP Algebra.
Guess I'm gonna have to start drinking coffee in the mornings, I think to myself with a sigh.
When I find the room, I walk in slowly and take a seat a few desks back from the front. a guy who looks like he's in his early thirties walks in a few seconds after the bell rings. "Morning, everyone. I'm Mr. Durbin, teacher of College Prep Algebra. Right now, we're going to take attendance and then I'm gonna give you guys your assigned seats." A few kids groan at the thought of possibly not having a seat next to their friends.
After role call, he goes through each row and calls off a name when pointing to each desk. I end up having very first seat in the third column from the door. Front row center, I think. Great.
I sit down with a sigh. Another freshman sits down in his assigned seat, which is right next to mine. After a moment, I break the ice. "Hey," I murmur.
"Hey," he says awkwardly. It's plain to see that he's not exactly comfortable in the front, either. I tell him my name and he replies with his. "It's Kayne." I nod.
Well, seems like I've found a new friend.