The Many Faces

MareSmiles2.jpg

By Marit W., class of ‘22

It was November, and The Downtown School was this really scary thing—a new school in the middle of the city with fancy architectural renderings and an impossibly articulate head of school. I’d applied and gotten in, but it hadn’t gotten any easier.

I’d spent that February, chewing my nails. I’d always been in public schools with more students than square footage, where I’d gotten used to flailing legs and over-large binders. The Downtown School was terrifying compared to my public high school. It was small and new and shiny and different.

My middle school was this familiar place with its chipped bricks and irritable staff. The thing about it was that I wasn’t happy. I loved school, sure, loved the teachers I’d spent years talking with, but the wear and tear of ducking my head was something that I could’ve gone without.

I left the familiarity of my friends and all the walls that I could’ve mapped out and filled with faces for this school. Our head of school had all the goals lined out, hard hat tours lined up, interviews at the nearest hipster coffee shop carried out, all shiny and efficient. I was still scared, then. Scared that I’d left everything I knew on the off chance this school’d offer me a chance to nerd out and find some sort of family, I guess.

September came, and everyone was stiff with new-school jitters. By the end of September, the jitters fell away, mine included. I’d found some friends who I still eat lunch with now, still fall into stitches laughing with now. The funny thing about having forty-four kids in a school is that everything happens quickly. One person, one little group, could do something, and it’d affect everyone.

Familiarity spread like a wave through these kids and these teachers. Things didn’t seem so new and shiny. The giant bean-bags are broken in, smiles broken in.

It’s been three months. Three and I feel like I know these people more than I knew the smudge of faces I’d spent eight years with.

The Downtown School is a little shiny and new, sure, but I’m so glad I chose it. I can draw a map of our little school, maybe sketch one of Seattle Center too, and fill it with faces of people I get to know better every day.