As I serve out my last and final detention of my high school career, I’m sitting in the French room. I’ve only been in this room once before, and that was five years ago when I was an eighth-grader taking my high school entrance exam. As I sit here in detention, writing this article, I recognize certain posters and projects up on the wall. A Moulin Rouge reprint. A map of south France, an untouched Napoleon poster that couldn’t have been printed in this millennium. While the room hasn’t changed much, the people inside it have.
I’m bigger, smarter, my voice is deeper, and I’m more confident. All these major changes, and yet I still feel like I’m leaving a lot out about me that has transformed. I look back on my innocence at the time. What I didn’t know about high school parties, high school relationships, high school exams, and high school teachers. All I could do at the time was speculate, based on my short list of adult experiences and encounters. A blend of “Dazed and Confused” and “Saved by the Bell” is what I thought I’d be encountering for the next 48 months.
I remember the fears I held in this very room in eighth grade that I’ve overcome. I recognize the reprint of the French bridge painting because I spent a great deal of time staring at it, petrified of the impending start of high school. I blankly studied the photo as I played out all the paths I could take. Now I stare at the poster and I reflect down the path I did take.
I want to reach out to that middle school student who woke up early on a Saturday to head down to Cathedral High and take this four-hour exam. I want to let him or her know everything I screwed up on and missed out on, what I did and what I failed to do, easier paths and simpler resolutions. But I know that eighth-grader will be more than satisfied to see what he turns out to be, like I have been. In a week and a half I’ll never walk through the locker room as a football player, I’ll never walk through the hallways as a student. My teachers will become acquaintances and my fellow students will become their own persons, with us no longer being shaped by the same school.
The teacher in charge of this detention just walked by and I slid my phone into my sock. I’m going to miss those small things the most.
Ben Gotfredson is a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School. He had been writing a column from a teen’s perspective for this newspaper throughout the year.