The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Starting Over

Going to private school your whole life makes public high school scarier
Freshman Emma Wyckoff walks Aug. 30 in Hallway One. Photo by Braden Bazzel

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Knee-length khaki shorts, a bright pink collared shirt, and beat up Air force 1’s. I glanced down at the goosebumps already forming on my arms and legs. 

It was gonna be a long day. 


I went to private school my whole life.

Today was my first day of public high school. 

I was terrified. 

What would people think of me? 

What would they say about me? 

Would I make friends here? Would anyone even talk to me? 

For once in my life, I didn’t know every single person I went to school with. Now, I only knew a handful. Everything was so unfamiliar. Everything was different now. 

I’m not ready for this.

Just three months ago, I was sitting in class, listening to the deep monotonous voice of my favorite math teacher, Mr. Estes, talking about geometric proofs. 

I used to never hear a single curse word walking down the hallways. Everybody dressed neatly. No holes, no rips, or stomachs showing. And absolutely no cell phones allowed. The rules got harsher every year. It was too restricting. I couldn’t breathe. 

Now, I’m standing on the front porch smiling at my mom with my backpack weighing down my shoulders on my first day of freshman year. We get there, and I’m hesitant to get out. “You can do this, Emma,” my mom encouraged me. She’s right. I open my door and step out. 


Walking into the front doors was like falling down a rabbit hole and waking up in Wonderland. I tug on the handle to the glass door. 

The first thing I notice is the noise. It’s so loud. Tons of people bustle around me. Some rush past, their footfalls thudding against the floor, probably headed for class. Others hang around in groups, chatting with friends they missed over the summer. I frantically looked around, searching for a familiar face. Anyone. Just one person I knew. I could feel a pit forming in my stomach.

You can do this.


Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” 

Change is just a part of life. 

And it’s scary. Private school was like being covered in bubble wrap. I felt safe. I saw all my elementary teachers walking down the halls every day. There were no sports tryouts. They were lucky if enough people even went out for the team. School was hard and tedious. Everyday I came home with a 15 page reading assignment and dumb questions to answer. It sucked. But that’s what I was used to. 

I miss that safety net. 

I hate that I go to school every day feeling anxious. 

I hate that I can’t control my fingers nervously tapping on my thighs on the drive in the morning. 

I hate that I’m still waiting for it to go away. 

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