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How do you know if you’re making the right decision? At the young age of thirteen, I was facing a decision that would affect the rest of my academic life and my future. It was the end of eighth grade, and I was attending a private school, which I had attended since kindergarten. I had the opportunity to apply for an arts school in my area; however, I would have to enroll in my local public high school in order to attend. It was a monumental decision. Could I possibly leave everything behind?

As a kid I was very creative. I was always drawing, painting, or creating things. As I got older, I took lots of classes and clubs to try new media and art forms. When I heard about the art school from one of my art teachers, I automatically wanted to attend. However, I wasn’t sure about meeting new people. While battling this decision, I kept asking myself the same questions: Was I ready to leave my life-long friends? Was I ready to leave this safety blanket of familiarity that I had clung to my whole life? Would the workload be different? Would I make new friends? Would it be worth it?

Despite all of my concerns, I was getting tired of the familiarity. At my private school, in each of my classes, I knew my peers’ first names, last names, if they had any siblings or pets, what sports they played, and so on. We had all grown up together, with the exception of a few new students. Knowing all about someone makes conversation difficult. I wanted something new. I began to look forward to making new friends, meeting new kinds of people, and having new experiences.

After convincing my parents, they decided to enroll me in my new public school and apply for the art school. All of my friends were sad to see me go but happy that I was taking on new opportunities and experiences. However, the next month, I found out that I had been waitlisted for the art program.

We never heard back from the program, and I was devastated. I thought that I wasn’t good enough at art, and even stopped painting and drawing all together. To make matters even worse, I got my application results from the art school back too late to re-enroll at my private school. Even though we were just a few days late to re-enroll, and I had been attending that school my whole life, they still denied my admission. Although I was ready for something different, it was troubling to be forced into change.

Going into my first year of high school in a completely different school was terrifying. But, within my first week at Granby High School, my worries quickly dissolved. I met so many people who looked different than me, spoke differently than me, and thought differently from me. I was exposed to so much diversity, so many new ideas, and learned so much. Every year there are hundreds of new students, and in every class there are students that I don’t know.

Granby has offered me countless electives, classes, and activities that I would not have chosen to participate in at my private school. Being involved in these activities has enabled me to meet and interact with tons of diverse and unique students, as well as discover new ideas, concepts, and beliefs.

While it was one of the most significant changes I’ve had to go through, every day at Granby I am faced with unfamiliar experiences that help shape the person I am, as well as affect my interests, opinions, and choices. I would not this person if I had not transferred schools. While I no longer draw or paint like I used to, I’ve grown and learned so much more about myself. I am graduating this year, and I am so excited for what the future holds and so thankful for all of the doors my high school has opened for me and for others.

© Elliot Hess. 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.