Another First Day of School?

By Madison B.

     As a student returning for my tenth consecutive year at LCDS—a “lifer,” if you will—the first day of school has become like a ritual to me. I know to expect new faces, or that I will be asked for directions to this or that
classroom or the nearest bathroom. And, the best of all: “Where is the fieldhouse?” On the first day, the fieldhouse is the place to be.The migration of the entire school to the space is a sort of controlled chaos, but chaos
nonetheless. From the littlest preschoolers to the class of 2014, an entire student body moves as one in a united direction. The gym floors are tacky with wax, not yet scuffed by PE classes or games of HORSE, and this only adds to the difficulty of the shuffling parade. I’m an upper schooler now, so I’ve finally graduated from the right hand bleachers to the left with the US community; I look back at the upperclassmen ready to consecrate the
upcoming year, and I smooth down my new Cougar Casual clothes. And speaking of clothes, I’ve already had my more-or-less literal uniform burning ceremony. Goodbye khaki pants, farewell to white polos, to kilts
and maroon socks and shiny Mary Janes. Nothing says “rite of passage” like a whole new wardrobe, right?

     The entire school huddles in that one fieldhouse, on two bleachers with some kids on the ground. Teachers are sitting with their grade levels or standing along the walls. It’s hot and humid, like the air before a storm, the front of a fresh hurricane of bodies and books and backpacks. I have new classes, new teachers (as new as they can be after seeing them in the halls for a decade), new responsibilities. The fieldhouse is sticky and packed tight. The rain outside is torrential. The upperclassmen have already gotten a head start on making fun of the freshmen, and yet– I’ve never felt more at home. Over there, that’s where the figure of the maroon cougar was painted on the wall– it used to scare me when I was little. There’s where I did countless performances, where I watched the inauguration for so many new teachers and even a new headmaster. The school isn’t just a facility of learning, it is a lesson in and of itself, a legend of history.After the formalities, we’re moving: filing,walking, lining the halls; the student body becomes an actual body, transforming into a vein, a string of muscle, a dendrite pulsing synapses. Kindergarteners and their senior friends hold hands as they promenade—for one it is the first, for the other the last. Every grade level folds in on itself, and we watch the progression of first to second grade, from lower to middle school, and then the upper school, and then me.

     And suddenly, even though I’m a freshman, I feel embryonic, still a child in my own right, once a little girl with a gingerbread man name tag and now exponentially different yet inexplicably the same. I am as I was nine years ago when I entered school—brand new.The crowd begins to disperse. Someone stops me and asks where the geometry classroom is. The first day may be over, but it’s never really over—there will always be the worn path of our feet, the warmth where we lingered, and the piece of myself that I’ve been building just to leave behind.

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