When I came home this afternoon, this was in my inbox:
I miss you at school so much, Mrs. Chili. Ms. Danielli is apparently our English substitute this week and I’m about to pull my hair out. She screamed at Elizabeth this morning during class, and the sad part is that though Liz said some bold things; it was what everyone was thinking. The gist of it was that Ms. Danielli was being very unfair and micro-managing our class when Mr. Lannen specifically said we could handle making decisions for ourselves, and Liz spoke out saying something along the lines of, “I thought this school was supposed to be about freedom.” Liz makes me nervous when she says things like this, but instead of just her feeling this way, this year she’s the only one not afraid to speak about the elephant in the room.
There’s a different mood to the school this year. It’s quieter between classes, cliques are really tightly-knit, there are noticeably less positive shares in the morning, no one has very much enthusiasm about anything, and for the most part, people are absolutely miserable. I can’t speak for all of the teachers, but Mr. Wayne took our sophomore advisory aside and talked about it as a group with the door closed last week and everyone agrees, including him. It’s just a really sad place to be, and it’s been made clear that it’s not just the students who have noticed this.
I don’t want to be another Sarah (ed. note; Sarah was a girl who attended the school last year. She was generally miserable and felt that her misery deserved everyone else’s company; as a consequence, most of her energy was spent spreading malcontent) and I don’t want to cause trouble, but I’m upset, nervous, conflicted, and angry. I’ve wanted to talk to you about things for a while, not because it could possibly fix things, but because it might make me feel a little bit better. I don’t want to ever give up fighting for this school, because CHS has always picked me up when I was down, and I want to do the same for it. But I feel like power has been taken away from the students, and this hurts me most because you said you’d always be my advocate for these things last year when I felt powerless. I know you were an advocate to a lot of students this way. I think a lot of kids have lost hope this year.
I don’t know how much more I can say, because I’m sitting in advisory and I’m close to tears. Sometimes when I get really upset, I try to read and hear your voice in my head like I used to when we read The Book Thief. Maybe I’m just hormonal and having a hard time, but I’m really upset and I guess I just really needed to let it all out. Consider this a morning write
I love you and I miss you so much, Mrs. Chili.
Oh, Lord. WHAT do I do with THAT?! I wrote Amayah back and told her that, while there really isn’t anything I can do to change the conditions at CHS, I AM available to meet with her (and anyone else who wants to see me). I can be a sounding board, I can help them think critically about the situation and work through possible solutions, and I will do everything I can to empower their voices.
This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen after I left. I knew that leaving the way I
was forced to did would result in at least some of the kids feeling abandoned and that, more than anything else, kills me.
I hate this.