With all our might

Yoo Young Chun, Head Photo/Art Editor, Features Editor, Features Columnist

All hail our school, NCHS! We’ll sing your… crazes? Phases? Dazes?

I don’t know the lyrics to the school song. Every school assembly, when it’s time to stand up from the bleachers and sing the song at the top of our lungs, I get ready to feign interest while mouthing the words and swaying with the rest of my classmates. I apply the same amount of dedication in singing the school song as I do to participating in spirit weeks. The only time I’ve dressed up was my sophomore year and it was on accident. It was Denim Day, and it fell during a period in my life when I would wear double denim every single day.

I still picked up a free shirt for it though, and that was part of the issue: I was only willing to join in on a school effort if there was something in it for me.

I’ve always considered school as an individual experience. For the last four years, I’ve walked through the halls with my head down and earbuds in. Even after I became an upperclassmen, I remained disinterested.

Looking back, I can see that eventually that disinterest turned into detachment. I never went to one football game in my entire high school career. The school was school and I was me. We were going our separate ways and I was okay with that. Now I realize that the sole reason I was okay with that was because I just did not like my school.

Maybe dislike is too strong of a word, but I was definitely getting sick of Naperville Central. I was sick of the yellow walls, the red lockers, the boring tiling of the hallway floors. I was sick of how big and crowded the school always was, and I thought that the many different kinds of stairsets we had in the building were unnecessary and at times annoying. As I approached senior year, while my friends were getting Senioritis and becoming allergic to doing work, I was becoming allergic to my own school.

But after four years of slow, stirring, school loathing, it only took one day at a different school to cure me.

I didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to go on an exchange day to a school in a rural area of Illinois. I definitely wasn’t expecting that I would immediately begin to miss the hallways and the stairs I was once so tired of seeing every day within the first hour of being there. And it wasn’t just about the interior architecture. The air was different at this school. Walking through the narrow, dark hallways, I noticed barely any life in the students that walked past me.

The most obvious difference I could see was that students at this school constantly had their ID tag with them and were not allowed to have their backpacks with them. I started a small commotion when I told the people around me that at our school, we were allowed to bring our backpacks to class and weren’t required to wear our IDs.

“The adults just trust you like that?” they asked me, their eyes wide with jealousy. Yeah, they do, I realized. I didn’t realize how much the freedom and trust that our school gives to students made such a big difference until I saw the lives of students that are not given these rights. For us, there’s always existed a general level of respect for each other.  For them, it was just them against the adults. As the students showed me the hall passes included in their assignment notebooks, I could clearly see that the confidence level was significantly lower in this school than at Naperville Central.

How could students believe in themselves when their school doesn’t even believe in them? As a student at Naperville Central, I never even had to think about this question.

My whole time at this new school, I knew there was definitely something missing. It wasn’t until I asked students about their school clubs and was met with blank stares that I realized.

There were no club posters or announcements anywhere. There were definitely clubs, but no one cared about them enough to talk about them. Meanwhile at Central, the hallways that I was once so sick of are always plastered with posters about every possible club in the world, with passionate and ambitious students behind each of them.

Standing in this completely different school, I started feeling something I’ve never felt before, which was pride for my own school.

I went to Central with my head down, not realizing that once I would lift it, there were amazing opportunities in place for me here. And not just for me, but for every student here.

The adapted services at our school are structured to be integrated both inside and outside the classroom, ensuring the involvement of the whole school body. Programs like Adapted Art and Adapted PE are just a few examples of how our school makes sure all students have the opportunity to reach out, try new things and meet new people.

And for that, Central, I’ll sing your praises.