The first day I got into secondary school (high school), I was overwhelmed by the crowd. I had come from a private primary school with few students in each class and you knew all of your classmates and teachers firsthand. My new school was a shocker for me because each class had different arms with over 50 students each. Like in my first year, Junior Secondary 1 (JS1) had arms A to G and some of the arms had as much as 70 students. Now imagine the rest classes, JS 2 to SS3, that's a lot of people.
My first day of school I felt so awkward because I'm naturally socially awkward. I had to wear mufti because I hadn't gotten my uniforms which made me feel more awkward because it seemed everyone else wore uniforms. Everyone seemed to know one another and I was just there, like a lone pea in a pod. I was alone until a girl called out my name. I didn't know her but she moved like she knew me and went on to introduce herself. Apparently, she had met my mum at the bank while paying fees before resumption. My mum had told her about me and she had been on the lookout for me. That's how we became friends till this day.
I made other friends in my class (arm) and going to school each day was fun for me because home was boring being the only child (my older brother was in the university). I had a friend that I would go to her house every morning and we'd walk to school together. While in class, we were mostly with our other friends and were barely together, sometimes we go get food at break time and then we also walked home together. We knew what was happening in each other's lives, we'd gossip about our classmates to and from school, but you'd rarely see us in class together. It was always exciting to be in each other's company at the start and end of the day.
TEEN STRUGGLE YEARS
School for me was great in my junior years, by the time I got to senior school, I began hating school. My grades were dropping, I was one of the top students in my arm in junior school but senior school took a different turn. I was struggling to make As and even Bs sometimes, it seemed like my life became tougher. My grades weren't bad at all but so much decline from what it used to be. I doubted myself, compared and struggled.
Home was often times a dreaded place to be in, I felt misunderstood and picked on most of the time, I'd rather be in school instead. I had a lot of emotions running through, had crushes, friendship heartbreaks and so on. I'd remember birthdays and even get gifts but mine wouldn't even be remembered (shoutout to the three or four friends who ever gifted me stuff).
My favorite subjects were always English Language and Agricultural Science. I liked Biology and Chemistry a bit too. It never really dawned on me that these years were a determinant of my future, I was just going to school and reading hard for exams because my parents said to.
My favorite teachers were the language teachers, English and French, I guess it's because I loved the subjects. The Agricultural science teachers were always a bore and they were mostly men which is funny because male teachers are usually fun. My Physics teacher literally told jokes and played the whole period and at the term's end we all had empty notebooks. My Chemistry teacher looked like Batista the wrestler so we called him that behind his back.
Batista had a policy when it came to grades. If you scored less than 15/20 in a test you'd get flogged with his big long cane. It's normal to use canes on kids around here if you're wondering. So if you scored 14, you'd get 1 strokes, score 13, you'd get 2 strokes and so on. He usually stood at the front of the class and held the marked test sheets. He'd call each out like a judge giving a verdict. I remember in SS2 he called my name and I almost peed in my pants. I was in the front seat but it was such a long walk at that moment to the front of the class. I was shaking as he had his usual wicked smile on his face while holding his long cane.
I concluded it was all over for me, I was going to get whooped bad bad. I was almost crying. He handed me my sheet and I had scored 13/20. I felt a huge relief but I still was going to get flogged twice. "Stretch out your hand!" he said. My flogging session was taking too long for just 2 strokes and when the cane landed on my palm, I could feel that he actually didn't use so much force but it was damn painful. My friend on the other hand had way more strokes to receive but she cried dramatically all the way to the front of the class like a big baby and Batista had a fill day laughing. He gave her her sheet and let her go off without flogging her. At that point, I wished I dramatically cried too.
When in JS1, my French teacher found a banana in my desk. I had written my name on the banana absentmindedly. She saw it and made me stand up in front of everyone. She asked the class why they were so wicked to let this poor girl write her name on her banana. She said if they didn't steal so much, I wouldn't need to put an identification on my banana. It was both funny and embarrassing, I became banana girl.
THE OTHER THINGS
There weren't prom nights in my school but the students usually hosted parties at hotels and bars, sometimes at a rich kid's house. I never went for these parties because I had strict parents. So it felt like everyone else had a social life but me. The activities close to a social life for me were the social club end of year parties, although they were only functional for about two years. Another were the plays we saw a few times at the College that owned my secondary school. I remember seeing Sizwe Bansi Is Dead and The Gods Must Be Crazy. I loved how real it was and the actors brought the story to life, I enjoyed watching them just as much as I enjoyed reading the plays.
Another fun social activity was the inter-house sports held yearly. It was always anticipated because one month before the competition, we had half school days and spent the rest of the day 'practicing'. Ofcourse, I was part of the lazy group that didn't practice. Teachers would come running after us, driving us out of the classes to the field but we always just moved to another empty class when they weren't watching. It was a time to play, eat, gossip, boyfriends and girlfriends kissing and stuff we found interesting. The competition day is usually rowdy, other schools show up including cultists from these schools and they bully my school students. Fights usually erupt, sexual assaults, beatings and stealing. At a point we had the police guarding the school grounds on inter-house sports day.
There was career day where we dressed up as what we wanted to be in future for picture sake. We all wore labcoats as per 'doctor'.
I think I should stop now, it was fun reminiscing and I forgot I don't do long posts. Basically, I enjoyed my school days more than I dreaded them and I'm glad for the people I met, the curriculum and the environment. It wasn't the best but it was good education.
How was school for you?