Validation

This is where I went to school from first to twelfth grade.

Maimonides

Classes were small.Really small. There were 28 in my graduating class.

I was pretty miserable for most of my time there. I was often bullied or picked on. I spent most of my time there on full alert.

 

I have mostly not kept in touch with my classmates. I reluctantly went to my 30th reunion. It took me that long to not feel completely freaked out about going back.

 

Last night I attended an event for New York area alums. I had gone last year and had reconnected with one of my older sister’s friends…one of those people who makes you feel safe just by her warm hello.  She called me a few days ago so we could attend  together.

 

Last night a few of us were sitting together. Amy, who graduated two years behind me suddenly remarked,

“ Sarah, your class was just the worst. People were so awful in your class. Your class was just terrible!.”

 

I felt like Amy had given me a gift. Listening to some of the other alums talk about their golden experiences at the school made me feel a little like I was in the movie Gaslight.

 

A couple of years ago I contacted one of my classmates on Facebook. When we were in 8th grade, he and four other boys in my class attacked me in the elementary school yard in full view of the all of the floor to ceiling windows in the elementary school, while classes were in session. I was knocked to the ground and was punched and kicked by the group of boys from my class.  The attack felt like it took about 15 minutes, I can’t tell you for sure.  I don’t know why they finally stopped.

 

The classmate who I contacted was someone who I had thought was my friend. The other boys, not so much. When I wrote to him about the incident, he had no memory of it.

 

The day after the attack, my father and asked the principal to meet with me. He did. He asked me what had happened. I told him. He asked some clarifying questions. I answered them. The principal patted my hand sympathetically and sent me back to class.

I’m guessing that my former friend’s lack of memory about the attack means that my attackers suffered no consequence from their actions.

 

My conversation with him left me feeling like maybe I couldn’t fully trust my own memories.

 

Amy’s comments about my class were a tremendous comfort. Yup, my class was awful. People were cruel to one another.  My feelings are not just the overwrought emotions of a kid. Thank you Amy.

Comments

  1. I do know what you mean. an accent from a different state and the aroma of someone who hand milked 2 cows before school and had no running water or electricity meaning any water for washing had to be heated hours ahead on the wood stove.
    they did a survey of our class(under age students) and found only 3 had never drank alcohol and only 5 had never done drugs. People rolled joints in class - at least 2 teachers had close family members who were known dealers. This was the back woods of Maine! Just 8 years later when my youngest sister was there and the whole emphasis was completely changed...all about academics. I dealt with it by doing extra English classes so I didn't have to be in study hall. This worked to my advantage when I had more than enough credits to finish 1/2 way through the senior year. I took my half term exams a week early and was in a small theology school the next week. I went to the graduation for my diploma and was quite amazed to see how childish they all still were.
    I am glad you found out from others what their opinion of that year group was. I have never been to a reunion...I don't even know if they have had one!
    Sandy

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  2. oh! looks like you broke the grip of G**gle plus! Hurrah!
    Sandy

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  3. Dear Sarah,
    I really applaud you for writing this. I remember when our boys were in middle school and you shared this with me, and I know how painful it was for you. I am relieved that you have received this validation from your friend Amy. What happened to you was awful, just awful and was not handled well at all by the adults involved. It's no wonder that you are such a powerful woman and strong advocate for children everywhere. You are amazing, and I love you so much. Always I love you so much!

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  4. You brought back memories Sarah. I was bullied on the school bus and never fit in with the other kids. I was on the set crew for the senior class play and when I returned from being out sick for 2 days I was told there was nothing there for me to do. Yeah right, set crews always have enough help... NOT. My hubby went through similar experiences (same school) but it made us who we are today. You could say since then we have both become the head and not the tail. It's refreshing to get the last laugh. PS: I don't always comment but I enjoy reading all your posts.

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  5. Sarah, I too went to a co-ed religious school. only mine was boarding. To make it worse my father was a school govenor, and both my older brothers were there with me. In Gr 13 they were both "Head Boy". School was small; 215 pupils altogether, and not super selective, but we did turn out folk who went on to Oxford, Cambridge, and other good English Uni's. My down fall was that I was very different, shy, introspective, not like my brothers and a duffer at sports; they both played EVERYTHING for the 'State' teams. I also loved music, lousy violinist but I loved it. The greatest bane in my life however was the headmistress who, for some perverse reason, decided I was the devil incarnate. Every opportunity she'd degrade me, harass me, and put me down; from my marks being lowered in all subjects to giving me the assigned chore of dealing with the bathroom mini incinerators. For long enough, even after I'd left school, gone on to college and succeeded, I still had the sense of looking over my shoulder in case she was spying on me, claws out ready to pounce and always finding a way to foil my ambitions. Maybe 5 years after I'd left school my father was talking with the Senior Master; who he'd known since his days as a pupil. The subject of "Gwen" came up; she'd just retired, and dad asked "Tosh" if he'd ever noticed her having a thing against me. "Tosh" said he'd commented on it to "Gwen" but she'd always denied it all, saying that I was a mixed up adolescent, a bad influence on others, and all round devious character. Amazing how I could have so much influence over my class-mates since they rarely spoke to me! BTW the school was a Quaker Foundation ()Religious Society of Friends) and very ordinary, not at all like the fancy ones in the USA where the fees are so high.. Liz

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