April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As I type this, I am sitting on the school bus riding to my first day as a junior at Ramaz Upper School. (Keep in mind that I write this column in advance, so by the time you read this I’ll be a week or so into school. Just to clarify in case you were thinking I had an extra-long vacation and started school in mid-September. I’m going to work on lobbying for that for next year, but until then…) Right now, what’s the biggest thing on my mind? The worst fear?

Well, fear #1 would have to be… that the bus is going to hit a bump, we’ll all fly into the air, and my laptop’s screen will detach itself from the keyboard. I have one of those “newfangled” convertible tablets, actually, so it might still work if it broke like that, but I’d rather not take any chances. And these school buses were never built to be smooth, really. (I can just imagine the conversation they had while building them. “Is it safe for kids?” “Yes, but it’s going to be cold, uncomfortable, and quite bumpy; we should take more time–” “Sorry, we just ran out of funding; this’ll be good enough!”)

Fear #2–and right now I’m grateful that it’s second place, but it’s still pretty nerve-wracking–is junior year. Junior year brings with it all of the legends of how tough it is, how massive the workload gets, how late you’ll be staying up finishing projects, how chaotic your schedule gets, and how it hurts when they imprison you in the school dungeon. Okay, I made up that last part, but it does fit with the general tone of what I’ve heard about junior year. But heard is the key word here. I’ve only “heard” about it. And while I don’t think all of the opinions I’ve heard are wrong, of course, I haven’t actually experienced the year for myself.

It wasn’t that sophomore year was so easy. I’ve referred to that year, as excellent as it was, as one massive scheduling conflict–tests loaded on projects loaded on events loaded on stress. And it was worth pushing through in the end, but occasionally it felt like just too much. I’m not scared to admit that. But that means I’ve been through a rough-and-tumble year before, and succeeded. Junior year is just the next level, like in a video game (albeit with much higher stakes)–it’s harder, but I’m definitely equipped to take it on!

Fear #3 must be–and this is going to sound really strange–is seeing all my friends again. I’m scared that they’ve all turned into flesh-eating aliens over the summer. Okay, not really, but it’s still a bit nerve-wracking to see people you haven’t seen in over a month. They’ve all been going on their different summer programs and camps and whatnot, and I’m irrationally a bit nervous that they’ve changed, that people will be different and maybe not as friendly. I’m nervous that people who went to the same camps and stuff will be cliquey and I’ll feel out of it. But honestly, out of all of my fears today, fear #3 must be the most unfounded. I have no real reason to believe that my friends this year, when I come in, won’t be my friends or something like that. I’m very excited to see them again, and I’m sure they feel the same way towards me. The greater, more rational worry is if I’ll be put in classes with them–last year, I didn’t have classes with a few of my close friends, which stung–but only time will tell!

So! Junior year! Here we go, diving into another school year of excitement and apprehension and a whirlwind of emotion. It’s time for a new beginning. (Just as soon as I steady my laptop screen on this bump.)

Oren Oppenheim, age 16, lives in Fair Lawn, New Jersey and attends Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan. He spends his free time writing and reading, and hopes to become a published novelist. You can email him at [email protected].

By Oren Oppenheim

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