Twenty years ago, in 1997, I started elementary school. Around that time, I was kind of rowdy and mischievous, and I find that experience hilarious. It’s as if we’re still in a kindergarten class, but we’re on our way to serious learning. The next few years turn out to be a turning point as I was starting to behave properly, but it was during fourth grade when I start experiencing rejections from my peers.
So this two-part article covers my experiences in elementary and high school, as well as my thoughts about going to school, and the importance of education. I’m sure some of these experiences are covered in previous posts, but this is the compiled version of my student life.
Elementary. That’s the time when the more difficult math problems (like the three/four digit problem solving and fractions) become my biggest headache. Math is one of my two weakest subjects in school, the other one being science. Meanwhile, I enjoy literary and language based subjects the best.
As a first grade student, I tend to get into trouble just like any other kid in class. I tend to get noisy during class and I rarely do my homework. I did get into trouble for crawling under my female classmates’ skirts, and it was kind of perverted. I had no idea what made me do it.
The most hilarious thing I did that time was mimicking a school teacher (with my classmates as students) on a toothpaste commercial that was airing on TV that time. Yes, it was a teacher asking kindergartners asking what is the color of the teacher’s sweater, and the color of her teeth (if I recall correctly). Of course, one of my teachers doesn’t seem to be amused by what I did and we rushed back to our seats as soon as she comes in. It was kind of funny.
I also remember that time when I actually begged my Filipino teacher to let me join my classmates for the Linggo Ng Wika presentation, partly because my best friend is among my classmates who are selected to represent our class. Of course, she let me join my classmates for the presentation. Later that year, I was Mr. Israel for the United Nation Day, although my costume looked like an Arab’s. Yup, it’s the same for the following year’s United Nation Day at our school.
During third grade, we did a field demo for the UN Day at our school, and this time our class will represent Mexico, with the song “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin. It was raining that time, but of course, the show must go on.
On the first half of elementary, I managed to take home some awards. These include the award for being “Most Friendly” (first grade), “Best in Reading” (second grade), and “3rd Honor[able Mention]” (third grade). By the way, there’s the Top 5 (or the cream of the crop) at the end of each school quarter to honor the students with excellent grades.
Fourth grade comes, and we finally have our Home Economics and Livelihood Education classes. This is where we learn how to sew, cook, and work in the school garden. I had a hard time with the sewing activity, but I managed to do it. With some assistance, that is. Also, that’s the time where we get to have Computer class, focusing on BASIC programming. You know, the PRINT “Hi!” = Hi! thing.
For that year’s Linggo Ng Wika, we are grouped according to what region (in the country) where we came from. We represent our group by dressing up in our specific traditional (and religious) costumes, as well as to make an introduction in our dialect. For our group, two of us are in religious costumes, the two others are in traditional costumes.
In November that year, I wrote an essay about computers for the Computer Month. I won third place for that.
And guess what, I was chosen as a candidate (along with the female transfer student, who became my best friend until the end of that school year) to represent our class for Mr. & Ms. [name of school], as part of the school’s Foundation Day. To be honest, I was quite uncomfortable being selected to represent our class, but I went on with it… only I didn’t tell my parents about it until the school trip. There’s the competition for formal wear, casual wear and sportswear, and of course the talent portion. On the presentation of the candidates, however, my female partner didn’t show up since she wasn’t feeling well. The winners are determined by the number of tickets sold, and I didn’t mind winning the title at all. Regardless, I become popular with my female classmates for a while, and that was that.
It was during that time when my classmates started ignoring me and they didn’t let me join in their games. So I’m stuck with two of my classmates, and I don’t know if they’re really fun to be with. But one thing is for sure, it was a depressing school year for me.
Fifth grade comes, and I feel weirder and weirder each day. I’m starting to become a misfit, but at least I made some new friends, the ones from the main campus. Yes, I’m from the satellite campus (along with some of my classmates), but the satellite campus can only accommodate classes up to fourth grade so we were transferred to the main campus the moment we finished fourth grade. Anyway, we are a large class comprising two sections, the main campus’ section A and satellite campus’ section B. Of course, not all of them are friendly to me in the end.
Our school is also competing in the Palarong Pinoy, held at the Nayong Pilipino in Pasay City. I’m competing in Sungka’s mixed junior division, but I never made it to the finals.
January the following year, our school had the annual Intramurals. The intermediate students and the high school students are the ones participating in the school’s yearly sports fest, and we are divided into four groups, namely the green team, red team, yellow team, and blue team. I belong to the green team, and I’m on the team’s cheering squad. I was immensely bored throughout the event, and I can’t recall if our team had [actually] won anything.
Sixth grade comes and it gets even more interesting. At least, since I met a cool guy wearing glasses and I started enjoying watching anime shows and playing games on the newly-bought surplus PC. About the guy, he was actually not in my class yet we somehow managed to hang out on occasion. He was a very nice person.
For that year’s Linggo Ng Wika, we are to re-enact the scenes from the 1986 People Power Revolution, as well as perform the patriotic theme song “Magkaisa”. I play the role of a cameraman, with a video camera made of styrofoam. We did well in our presentation, I think.
It’s the school’s Intramurals once again. Previously, all games are held inside the school’s parking (that doubles as the playground and basketball/volleyball court) and the school quadrangle. However, for this year’s Intramurals, some of the games had to transfer to the basketball court inside the private subdivision, a walking distance from the school’s satellite campus. Anyway, I’m now on the yellow team, and they’re asking me to compete in the sports event. I give in, and I’ll compete in Sungka for the second time. I won the competition, but then it will take a while before the sports event ends. I didn’t bother to go watch the other sports events, which took place on my favorite day, Saturday.
So here comes the graduation, but I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, it’s my female classmates who keep telling me that I will never graduate and that I don’t deserve the “Loyalty Award” for staying at school for six years. Of course, I got mad but I couldn’t control my emotions too.
Six years at [name of school]… it’s a mix of fun, remarkable, and lonely moments of being an elementary student. Without a proper farewell, I decided to move on and move to a public school the following school year. I doubt I’m gonna miss my soon-to-be former classmates (and I don’t think they’ll miss me anyway).
High school life sure is fun, but I didn’t get to enjoy every part of it.
Well, I’ve had enough of my troubled past in my former school, maybe this will change by the time I transfer to another school, the one where my brother finished high school. Besides, I had a feeling that I’m gonna meet a lot of nice people in my new school, some of them become my closest friends.
So I’m a high school freshman who is still acting like an elementary student? It’s a challenging transition, but that’s something I can live with. To begin with, my new school is in Lagro, Quezon City, about more or less 8 kilometers (calculated using Google Maps) from my house. And since I’m no longer in private school, I think it’s a good idea for me to experience how to commute, having used to being taken to and from school on a tricycle as a school service (though I did it with my classmate a few times back in elementary). I still find it scary to cross the street (thanks to the overspeeding vehicles on the highway), but at least it’s safe to cross the street near my school.
And here comes algebra, biology, geometry, chemistry, trigonometry, physics, economics, Asian and world history, and technology and livelihood education (TLE). In addition, we also study four notable literary works from Filipino authors: Ibong Adarna, Francisco Baltazar’s Florante At Laura, and Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as well as watching their stage play adaptations at the UP Theater.
We were introduced to different school clubs, but I don’t know if any of us are really interested in joining one. There’s the math club, the English club, the science club… all of the school clubs are dedicated to a particular school subject.
The school cafeteria is impressive and had wider choices than my former school. At the time, the cafeteria implemented the chit system wherein I had to fall in line just to exchange my cash for the plastic stub of equivalent value so I can buy something in the cafeteria. It was eventually scrapped more than a year later, replaced by cash register specifically for cafeteria meals. During the first few weeks, I bought some chocolates and candies at the cafeteria and ate it inside the classroom during breaks. Of course, some of my classmates ask for a portion of a chocolate bar when they saw me eating one. In addition to the cafeteria, there’s also the co-op store where we bought pieces of pad paper, ball pens, notebooks… even our PE uniform, workbooks, and other knick knacks.
And yeah, I started wearing my glasses a few weeks before I start high school, so they thought that I was a genius. One of my teachers refers to me affectionately as Boy Genius. But at least I’m not alone since one of my female classmates also wear glasses as well.
During this time, I was actively copying what is written on the board, but at times I had a hard time catching up since I tend to make some mistakes and my hands are tired from all the writing. Also, some of the activities, particularly the ones on the TLE class, proved to be challenging as I need to make a lampshade, a letter holder (something I managed to finish myself), a gel candle (probably the easiest one to make myself), and a few others.
During my first year in high school, we only have our classes three whole days a week, from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM, with flag ceremonies held on Mondays. That changed during my second year in high school and with a new school principal and some changes, classes are now divided into two shifts. So it’s five half-days a week instead of the three whole days a week classes, which is quite a relief for some of us. For the rest of my high school years, I’m always placed in the afternoon classes.
I also recall back in first-year when I had to buy a recorder flute for our music class. It was an ivory Hohner recorder flute, which I really liked, yet I’m not good at playing that kind of instrument. It was an effort trying to play a few notes, what more for an entire piece of music? At times, we’re practicing a few songs our MAPEH teacher taught us. In the end, the flute was stored in the study table for a long time and I rarely played that thing.
I used to bring packed lunch during my freshman year but since it’s gonna be a half-day the following school year, I decided to eat lunch at home and just ask for the same allowance as last year. At least, 20 percent of my allowance goes to transportation, the rest goes to various expenses from snacks to school supplies. Of course, my allowance is larger than some of my classmates, and I don’t spend it all on snacks alone. Sometimes, I need to save some for myself.
I didn’t get to attend the school’s founding anniversary during my freshman year. It was during my sophomore year that I get to attend and have fun in the annual event, and I always look forward to it until my senior year. Around this time, I also attended some notable events, such as the “Pasikat Ni Sir At Mam” and a couple of stage plays inside the covered court.
It’s sophomore year and I’m in the afternoon class. But since some of my friends are in the morning classes, I ended up going home by myself. Well, I’m getting used to it since I’m starting to feel like a loner again, aside from being excluded by my seatmates. In addition to that, I experienced bullying from my two classmates, and I was extorted money by another. My sophomore year is sort of okay, but not really that okay.
The following school year (junior year), I’m having a great time with some of my classmates. I was elected as the president of the Handicrafts class (one of TLE’s electives) and I’m doing well in Geometry. I started hanging out with some of my friends again, and I was bending the rules a bit by wearing rubber shoes instead of my black shoes.
And here comes senior year, where I’m about to experience a great deal of trouble. At first, my classmates are very nice but that changed in the next few months. They tend to annoy me a lot of times and did something terrible to me. That aside, I was often nominated as a class officer for each of the subjects, some of which I did become a class officer. I’m not comfortable with being nominated, but… there’s nothing I can do about it. They’re being nice to me that time so I can’t tell them that.
I’m in the Computer class as part of the elective, it’s all about the internet with some MS Office activities in between. We are to create our own website as a project, and we made a video slideshow using our baby pictures (transferred to the computer by means of a scanner). Well, in our class, we (IV-Chromium) were down to just four as some of our classmates had transferred to other electives due to the monthly fee. I made friends with some of the students from IV-Gold and the lone student from IV-Lead.
We had our National Achievement Test, as well as our National Career Assessment Examination during our senior year. I think I did well in these tests. Regarding the National Career Assessment Examination, I think that helped me figure out my occupational field of interest… that is, the artistic field (or simply the arts).
There are a few more events I never attended. First is the Christmas party, the other one is the senior prom. I don’t care if I didn’t attend the Christmas party and have fun with some of my annoying classmates, but I don’t know if I feel the same with not attending the prom. Something tells me that I should have attended the latter, but I didn’t. Not only I didn’t get to see my friends and classmates in their formal attire, but I’m missing a part of my life as well. Oh, but that didn’t matter now.
And here comes the emotional high school graduation ceremony. As usual (and just like any other high school graduations), students use this as a chance to spend the last hours of their high school life with picture taking, sharing stories of their high school memories, and wishing each other luck in their chosen field of interest. While some of my classmates are teary eyed by this memorable high school graduation, I didn’t feel emotional about it. Why some of them are hugging me and wishing me luck, I don’t know. They are planning a post-graduation outing and they’re inviting me, but I declined.
For some reason, I never got my high school yearbook and I didn’t bother to get my class picture. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever ask for a soft copy of the class picture, as I already severed ties with most of them.
High school officially ends, and I decided to take a year off from studying before heading for college as an English major student. And after ten years of finishing primary and secondary education, I only had very little achievements and I managed to pass my grades. Of course, I feel disappointed and guilty with myself for failing to keep up with my studies and I never got to my dream university, but that doesn’t matter now. Anyway, there’s the second part of this article featuring my thoughts about school and the importance of education.