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Column: The shepherd sent me packing

'By the time I hit eighth grade, I had a bit of a reputation as a rebel.'

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"Little did I know messing up getting into Catholic high school would turn out to be the best mistake I’ve ever made."

Photo by Evelyn Burkett

Photo by Evelyn Burkett

"Little did I know messing up getting into Catholic high school would turn out to be the best mistake I’ve ever made."

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Mistakes. We all make them at some point in life. Some of us make them more frequently than others, and I am definitely in the more frequent party. Throughout the years I’ve probably made every mistake imaginable. I’ve licked sidewalks, intentionally failed assignments, walked home in pouring rain (three times if we count snow as rain), the list goes on. But one mistake stands above the rest as both the best and worst mistake I’ve ever made: junior high.

For most of my life, I went to a Catholic school in Farmers Branch where fairly strict rules were implemented. Boys’ hair couldn’t touch their collars or their ears, jackets without the school logo couldn’t be worn and boys could not wear earrings. Throughout the course of my education, I violated most of these rules in some form. By the time I hit eighth grade, I had a bit of a reputation as a rebel.

At the beginning of the year, everything was fine. I did my work and was generally a C+ student. Then, in November, we started reading “Across Five Aprils.” We were given assignments for each chapter and I refused to do any of them. This accounted for a month’s worth of assignments and about 20 percent of our final grade. This rebellious behavior severely hurt my average and brought me down from a C+ to a D.

Around this time, we also started applying to various Catholic high schools in the area, namely Bishop Lynch, Jesuit & Ursuline, and John Paul II. My sister was at Lynch at the time and was hoping I would follow in her footsteps, but I also wanted to go to Jesuit, like all the men on my dad’s side of the family, except my dad, had. My below average grades and poor work ethic meant that on the Test for Admission into Catholic High School I had to be phenomenal and put on a perfect student persona for each interview. Naturally, all of this pressure built up and ended with me doing none of the above. I was, as usual, below average with my score. And thus, I was, in my mind, condemned to public school.

I watched as my friends got to choose between a Catholic or public high school, while I was the only one with no choice. Little did I know messing up getting into Catholic high school would turn out to be the best mistake I’ve ever made.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t dislike the Catholic school system. The system and I just were not compatible. Some can handle the strict order of the private school life; I just am not one of those people. I am more of a free-spirited person, more of a rebel than a socialite. I prepared for my journey through the public school system.

My first week at Lewisville was rough. I had been at one school my entire life and had never once had to be social or make new friends. It didn’t help that I had been told horror stories of jocks and bullies and filthy hallways, none of which turned out to be true. Instead I was greeted by kind staff and students accompanied with a rather clean high school. The rush of it all pressured me to stay quiet for a while but once I adjusted I fell in love with public school.

Many factors brought about this love, the two predominant being I no longer had to wear a uniform and I could choose my schedule.

While some people would love to not have to pick what they wear every day, most of the people I’ve talked to have never had to wear a uniform and don’t fully realize how lucky they are. No longer were the days of khakis, polo shirts and the most ugly black New Balance shoes. I could wear what I wanted including Fitbit’s and Apple Watches. I could even style my hair within much larger restraints; it could finally touch my ears, be put into a mohawk or cascade down my back.

The ability to pick what level of course I wanted to take and full freedom of elective choices was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I could take whatever language credit I wanted and build my schedule to fit me. This was a spark contrast to the two elective choices and nine years of forced Spanish I had before. This freedom led to me joining influential programs including AVID, academic decathlon and theater. Even this column is the result of having the option to take newspaper.

In eighth grade, I was asked the question “Why do you want to go to Jesuit?” I answered “For the freedom and the choices they will give me.” Little did I know how wrong I was. While Jesuit would have provided me some unique opportunities, I believe public school has given me so much more.

When it comes to regrets, I have quite a few. While most of them stem from my poor choices, the one decision I will never regret is going to public school.

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Column: The shepherd sent me packing