Choosing the right fit for high school is a hard decision. The environment in which you learn trains you to deal with conflict, it provides comfort, and it can teach you to step out of your comfort zone. A school’s size can play a big role in those factors. For me, I wanted something different from my middle school, but I would later learn that the difference I was yearning for would not be what I expected.
All my life I have gone to only one school--a coed, PK-8 independent school with about 400 kids. This was truly my home because I was practically born there. Most of the teachers had known me since I was three. Comfort was not my problem. I can’t remember ever being the new kid or feeling like I didn’t belong. But by eighth grade, I started to grow tired of the over familiarity, and the school felt too small. So when it was time to look at high schools, my main goal was to reach as far away as I could from what my old school was like. This meant a big school with lots of new people.
During the high school admissions season, I applied to all of the core independent schools in Seattle. Ultimately I applied to only three schools, one of them being The Downtown School. When I first heard of DTS I didn’t have many thoughts because at the time the school was just ideas and a building, no students, no history. After applying I pushed it to the back of my mind and waited for the fateful date of acceptance letters. The day came and I received some good and bad news. The good: I got into The Downtown School. The bad: I was faced with choosing. “Go big or go home,” I said, by which I could either go big or go with what I have always known. Throughout the admission season I had been using my gut in picking schools since this was my first time ever choosing for myself where I wanted to go.
In February of last year, DTS held a newly admitted student night, and the minute I walked into the now-completed building I felt like this was it. I felt the energy buzzing through the room, and I knew that I needed to really take this school into account. That night, I came home and researched everything I could find out about The Downtown School. I probably memorized their whole website and any fact about the school. I was so conflicted because this school felt so right, yet it was not what I was “looking for.” I knew that I would feel comfortable in this environment, but that’s what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to feel comfortable; I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone. As I looked at my options I thought, Why do I need to feel uncomfortable? What would that do for me? Yes, it would cause me to change and evolve in new ways, but what if I could find change in myself but in a nurturing environment?
I made my decision and took the chance with The Downtown School. And for me, that was the best decision I have ever made. I took a different chance and decided that I could push myself by leaving my mark throughout The Downtown School’s inaugural years. This for me was more special and important then learning how to make friends out of 1,000+ kids or trying to fight for attention or help from the overly busy teachers. For me, the opportunities not every kid can say they get outweighed The Downtown School’s small size. Why spend your high school years fighting for someone to notice you and help you flourish when you can have others fighting for you and your future? That is what The Downtown School is giving me. True, it is nothing like what I was “looking for,” but it gave me what I didn’t know I needed. A love for learning, a sparkle in my eyes every day after school, a community of supportive individuals, a place where I can grow. A home. A home that I didn’t grow up in--no, a home that I am building.