On Campus

Friends are like bullet-proof vests

After four years of high school most students, even the oblivious ones (like me), eventually figure out the intricate survival system involved in making it through high school alive. Like the basic fact (that’s subconsciously known by all grade nine survivors) that having a large, dense group of friends is even better than wearing a standard military-issue bullet proof vest. Not just because there’s safety in numbers, but also because of statistics. If you’re standing in a group of ten kids, you’re not wearing anything particularly goofy, and the predator in question doesn’t smell your fear, there’s a 90% chance that you’re gonna make it. Or the fact that human beings aged 13-17 are the slowest living creatures on Earth, so if you don’t make it out of the classroom within 3.2 seconds of the bell, you will be late for your next class. Guaranteed.

And then there are the school-specific survival guidelines. Like avoiding the left staircase, because there’s always some doofus who thinks its funny to spit over the railing on the people below (with bonus points for phlegminess and splash damage).

Meaning, if forced at gunpoint to recognize a positive side about highschool by the hypothetical serial killer who apparently gets some sort of pleasure out of forcing people into tough decisions, I’d say that it’s familiarity. I’ve been in the same high school setting for my entire highschool life. And I only have three credits left.

So my parents, of course, have decided to move.

And not just across to the other side of the city of Cornwall, either. My new school, which I’ll be starting at in another two weeks, is over 500km away and is almost three times as big as my current school.

I knew it wasn’t a good sign when my parents called to schedule an interview with the new school and the secretary made it with the vice principal, “who handles students with last names beginning with D through G.” My current school, Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School, has one vice principal. My new school, Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute, apparently has an entire battalion devoted to welcoming new students (one for every four letters of the alphabet), one who handles extracurricular activities and student services, and one who is charge of punishing students that threw a paper airplane in the middle of a science class between 1:00 and 3:00 pm between November and February.

Going to a new school means having to start all over again. Being 500km away from my old school means I’ll miss my bullet proof vest, and I’ll know absolutely no one except for my sister. And for some weird reason, I feel like it wouldn’t look too good if I cling to my sister’s arm, making high-pitched whimpering noises as we make our way down the new school’s hallways.

According to the school’s website, Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute has an art club, an environment club, and not one but two chess clubs. Meaning, one for nerds who only have glasses, the other for nerds with sinus irritations and asthmatic conditions. Of course, there’s also an even bigger football team than at my old school.

Which, come to think of it, means a breeding ground for people that can crush my skull with just a good, solid blink.

BIO: Sixteen-year-old Scott Dobson-Mitchell lives with his three annoying younger brothers, and less annoying 17-year-old sister in Cornwall, Ontario. For the past three years he’s been writing a weekly newspaper column for the Seaway News, “Scott’s View,” which makes him Canada’s youngest newspaper columnist. Scott welcomes reader comments and invitations from major newspaper editors for future work at: scott.dobson.mitchell@gmail.com

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