An Ode to my Hometown: A Toe in the Water

Back again!

For those new to this series, it is meant to tell my story through the places that shaped me. I wanted to show some love to my hometown as I prepare for a cross country journey and potential move.

Today, high school is the topic of discussion. For those of you not in the Louisville area, high school is a big deal here. It’s one of the qualities of the city that I always disliked. Essentially, in a big Catholic city, if you didn’t go to one of the big all-boy or all-girl high schools here, you were judged, at least by the upper to middle classes. I’ve seen this ease up in recent years, so maybe it’s getting better. Then again, I’ve also seen middle-class families struggle to make ends meet just to send their kid to one of these schools.

So, in case it wasn’t clear, I didn’t go to one of those schools. All of my friends from grade school did, but I was the only one from my class that went to Seneca. Which meant I was transitioning from a small Catholic school of around 250 total, grades K-8, to over 2000 in a public high school, 750 just in my freshman class. But the drastic differences didn’t stop there.

The cultural change was huge. There were a small handful of black and Asian kids in my grade school. Again, spread over 9 grades. And being that it was a Catholic school, there wasn’t much in the way of religious diversity either. Jump ahead to high school, where there were people of all races, sexes, religious backgrounds, and cultures, and my world scope was opened up massively.

It made for a rough freshman year, adjusting to a totally new way of life, but I made it through and made a few friends along the way. And that was…about it. For four years, I barely recall much. There were definitely moments.

I remember some of my teachers, who I learned a lot from. One math teacher, Mr. Adams, who actually taught math in a way that made sense to me and that I enjoyed. Mr. Cooksey, who taught English, but fundamentally changed the way I watch movies. He taught us about symbolism and the intentionality of everything that a director chooses to put in the background of scenes.

But high school was largely uneventful. I hung out with my grade school friends a lot, I got mediocre grades and I made it to graduation. It was fine. The main things I took from high school was how sheltered I had been in grade school, and how being the small quiet kid doesn’t pay off.

I still got picked on a lot, but with fewer allies than grade school provided. It taught me about my own independence and possibly fed some of the isolation issues I experienced once I got older. But at that moment, high school was fine. A slightly bigger bubble of protection. It wasn’t until later that I started to experience what life would really have in store for me.

Thank you again to everyone who is following this series. Most don’t have much context for these posts, but they’ve been fun to write and interesting to dive into.

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