First Day Back- How to Tell You Did it Right

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By: Danielle Matta

Going back to school after summer vacation always evokes that unwanted anxiety. Even though you go through it each and every year, and surprisingly survive, the doubts always return. And after that 3:47 p.m. bell rings, the pressure still isn’t off. You can’t help but re-analyze every minute of the day, from the moment your new shoes stepped onto the linoleum-tiled floor to when you pushed open the metal door back into freedom, wondering did I make the right impressions? Will I regret sitting next to the teacher’s desk? Should I not have cracked a “your mom” joke at the biggest and hairiest senior in Spanish? All these questions are reasonably valid, considering what you do your first day determines your fate for the next nine-and-a-half months.
So, how do you know if you did it right? Never fear, because after reading this article, you will finally know whether eating that tuna and onion sandwich during lunch will be the cause of your educational success, or your ultimate doom (It’s definitely failure for you, friend).
To start the day off, you should have arrived at school at exactly 8:43 a.m. This precise time will ensure that when you begin your fruitless journey to find friends in the hallways, you will have just enough time to go through each and every corridor without repeats at a leisurely pace. You do this because you know there is nothing more awkward than walking by the same group of kids three times. Because even though you hope they don’t notice you are friendless and walking aimlessly, they do.
While you wait for the first bell to ring, you avoid mirrors or reflective objects at all costs. Even though you dressed in clothing that allows movement (no one likes the kid who faints in the middle of the hallway because their skinny jeans are too tight), and wore shoes that will be suitable for running to your next class when you just can’t find it (unlike that girl in heels who will regret her choice of footwear in the next five minutes), you know far too well that just being in the school automatically reduces attractiveness, and anything that looked good in your mirror back home, looks hideous under a high school’s roof. Nothing puts one’s spirits down more than having to suppress a terrified scream at their own reflection.
Finally, the bell sounds and you begin to walk to your math class. You see the open doorway leading into the classroom but instead walk by it, casually peering into the room to see if there are any students already seated. It appears that you are the first to have arrive, so instead of going in, you walk a few feet from the door and pretend to be looking for something in your bag. You are waiting for another careless classmate to innocently walk in and discover —too late— that they are trapped in an awkward conversation with the teacher, giving both the teacher and the other students the impression that they literally have no place else they’d rather be than in class. You know that even if you have to circle back and walk down the same hallway twice, it’s worth it if only to avoid that situation.
During class, you manage to sneak a calculator underneath the desk so that you can be the first with your hand obnoxiously raised every time a “mental math” question comes up. Your teacher realizes that you are obviously eager to learn and incredibly intelligent. But when you do not know the answers, you instead appear to be busy, rummaging through your bag with exaggerated determination or having a coughing fit. That way you let another kid make of a fool of themselves and you can shake your head in disappointment when the teacher says they’re wrong.
When your math teacher hands out the “Get-to-Know-You” sheet, you crack out the list of basic facts about you and your preferences that you prepared from beforehand. You know this list will come in handy since you will need to fill out a bazillion more of these throughout the day.
When the bell rings, linger long enough to tell your teacher in private how much you enjoyed their class, and hope they will reward you with praise or a Husky Ticket. When they hand over the ticket, you suppress your excitement and save it for later, in private.
Then as you maneuver the halls, you avoid the open area by the 400 hallway no matter what. You realize that you are better off going around the long way, or rocketing to the moon and back, then risking getting caught in the suffocating currents of hot, smelly teenage bodies in your attempts to walk 10 feet from one end of the hallway to another. As you see friends on your way to class, demand a full report of all the classes and teachers they’ve had thus far, so that you can be aware of any teacher’s preferences, class expectations, or surprise first-day quizzes that may be coming your way. Your teachers will think you either super prepared, or psychic.
On your way to English class, you also realize that high school is all about every man for himself. Pick one side of the hall to walk on, and stick with it. If a kid gets in your way, keep pummeling forward. The best case scenario, he will get the message and move out of your way. Worst case, you will run him down. He moves, and you spare him (for today) of a trampling.
In English class, you make sure that you place the heaviest, thickest book you could find neatly at the edge of your desk with the spine facing you. When your teacher asks, you say it is a bit of light reading that you started the last week of summer, just something to hold you over until your first English lit book is assigned.
You are also cautious about flirting and making friends too quickly in class. You never really know what one friendly smile and cracked joke might get you into if the person you wrongly deemed “cute” or “nice” is in fact a borderline psychotic stalker who will never leave you alone until you change your name and move to Canada. Also, you cooperate with the repetitive ice breakers, because you know the more you participate, the faster they will go.
Next is science. When you first walk into the classroom, you ask your teacher where all the emergency equipment is located in the science room, and assure them that if an emergency were to happen, you would risk your life to save theirs. This shows that you are serious about science and safety, if not a little creepy. Also make sure you know the answer to “What is science?” since you are bound to be asked that.
Afterwards, during lunch, you make sure that you are not the loser standing in the middle of the cafeteria looking for friends. You keep moving and when you get desperate, sit with random kids at the end of the table and enthusiastically chew. You sit with a group that is not near upperclassmen, or a trash can, and avoid flying food and rowdy tables. To not appear to be friendless, you lean your head a little closer to the person sitting next to you, and appropriately laugh when the other kids laugh. To any normal bystander, you seem popular and loved. You also realize it is important to have a packed lunch for the first day, since you have to gradually ease into buying lunch at school. Your stomach is a fragile organ, and delving too suddenly into cafeteria “food” may cause hemorrhaging or prolonged visits to the bathroom.
After lunch, you go to your history class. You write your name at the top of your notes in a dead language. History teachers love dead languages.
Finally, it is the end of the day. You make sure to not trust your investigative bus-finding skills, so you don’t linger too long outside the school with friends. Chances are, those investigative skills are non-existent and you very well could miss your bus. Which, for sure, would be a bad omen for the rest of your year. Happy that your impressions left upon both students and teachers were good, and that you have yet to be punched by a sassy upperclassman that you accidentally bumped into, you deem the day successful. But please, don’t pack the tuna and onion sandwich again.