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Audrey Lukecart

Greendale Middle School, Greendale, Wisconsin

I love school, I always have. That never changed while growing up. I still loved school even when it got harder. My only problem was when I didn’t understand something: I was so used to just understanding things right away that I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t feel safe asking for help even when I loved my teachers. Well, fast forward to 6th grade and I had figured out a system: I would ask a parent and if they didn’t know how to do the thing I was confused on, I would look up examples and try to figure out something that all the examples had in common or a rule that they all followed. It worked pretty well, and I was still able to keep up with everything. Then, we went virtual. When we went virtual I didn’t think it was going to be very hard…but it was: Google meets everyday, all day, no one to talk to, assignment instructions that contradicted the teachers’ instructions. I was having a really hard time, but of course I had to be ok. I felt like if I wasn’t fine, I would let everyone down. I was always the calm, cool, collected one in my family and friend group so I was worried that people would be disappointed in me. My head screamed at me that I needed to ask for help, but my pride and my mouth didn’t know how to form the words. I cried myself to sleep many nights and was constantly frustrated or angry.

Finally, someone noticed that I was acting a little differently. That person was my English teacher, Mrs. Mutranowski. She asked me to join a separate meet after school. At first I was confused, why would she want to talk to me after school? My grades were solid, and I had all my work done. Then when I joined and she explained why she brought me there I understood. She told me that she had noticed that I was a little under the weather and referred me to Mrs. Koplitz, the school counselor. Mrs. Koplitz made a meet for kids that weren’t feeling their best, just like me. I found that I used this meet as a security blanket and I relied on it for a while to vent and share my frustrations. This was the turning point for me. I knew that what was shared in the meet stayed in the meet, so I let everything out. There was no judgment, no teasing. It felt like I had a completely safe space for the first time in my life. I found that it wasn’t only easier to share in the meet, but once I started sharing it was easier to share with people outside that meet. I found I could tell my parents about it, I knew how to approach it and shared more of how I was feeling with my friends when we went back to in-person school. I used to shut them out, but Mrs. Koplitz’s sessions made it a lot easier to share my feelings.

Today I still think about the kindness and support I felt at that time and try to make everyone else feel that way too. I don’t know what everyone is going through, maybe there are problems at home or they are just having a bad day, but I always try to make them feel supported and cared for.  When I notice that someone is acting differently, I try to make an effort to ask what’s wrong and try to make them better. In the end, we’re all fighting battles all the time, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. We are all just trying to do our best to find our place and feel like we belong. You never know what battle someone is going through at the moment, so we all just need to give a little more kindness to make the world a better place.

© Audrey Lukecart. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.