I'm sure everyone in the world has had the feeling that they are the one person who doesn't quite belong. Being a proud band geek, theater enthusiast (quoting musicals much?) and choir member, I had just such a feeling every auto class period.
Being one of only three girls in Auto Tech 2, I felt like somewhat of an outcast as I walked into seventh period every B day. The other two girls and I never really spoke, and were rarely paired together on projects, so it was a little lonely at first. Still, I learned a lot, had fun and even managed to make a few friends by the end of third term. I could hardly wait for Auto 3.
I walked into the counselor's office last year to plan out my schedule for senior year, and my counselor couldn't believe that with all of the music classes I was taking that I would even WANT to take auto class. She finally did put me in the class, for which I was duly grateful. I was thrilled and excited to be working with cars even more, and I even considered going to the Davis Applied Technology College to study diesel mechanics.
A few weeks later, the news about the school budget cuts in my district started trickling in, and Facebook pages were made to save teachers' jobs. I felt bad, but the problem didn't really concern me as I didn't know any of the teachers. So I just "liked" the groups on Facebook and moved on with my life.
But then, during my auto class, our principal came down to the classroom and pulled our teacher into the hall to talk. Our auto tech teacher was told that he was going to be cut to half time for the next year, meaning that he'll only teach the first level of auto. I was furious.
When I heard about the walkout my fellow students had planned in protest of cutting jobs and restricting our education, I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn't disrespectful enough to just leave class. As soon as I could after class, I ran to where the walkout was, but there were only a few people left. I was crushed, but I still held up some signs and helped move the protest along as much as I could.
Still, as much as we hoped a protest would work, it didn't seem to do anything, and we were still losing teachers and programs. It seemed there was nothing we could do to change anything, which kind of crushed everything we've learned since elementary school -- helped along by Dr. Seuss -- about "anything's possible." What we felt from the walkout was mostly a slap in the face, where all the grown-ups told us children that we really didn't matter to them, and that our opinions were worthless.
WHAT? It kind of makes me wonder if they ever read Dr. Seuss, because if they did, they missed a few crucial lessons. "A person's a person no matter how small," and no matter how young for that matter. The education system has failed us if we're told we are wrong when we test something we've learned in the real world, right? And yet we still have to go to school.
I was looking at my senior year, my final year in high school, with a sort of weary optimism, deciding finally that if I couldn't take auto at my school, I'd take it somewhere else. Miracle of miracles, when I asked a secretary this summer about taking auto class at Clearfield High, she said that auto was back to full time at my school.
So I went from not really excited for this new year to shopping for my back-to-school supplies a month early. Had auto classes been canceled, it would have been a very dry, boring year, and in the end, I'm glad to be the somewhat outcast girl in auto class than not have it at all.
Dezarae Beaman is a senior at Syracuse High School. E-mail her at email@example.com.