Transitioning from Public to Private School

I remember the day my teachers from Wister Elementary School announced to me and two other students that we were selected for a scholarship. I was overjoyed until they continued to say that all of us wouldn’t be going. We were all selected, but only one of us would be chosen. At that point I knew I was facing a competition. As quickly as I got excited, I also felt scared and not very confident, not only because I was competing against my peers, but because of the “transition from public to private school.” I have always been a hard worker, but from that day on I knew I would have to work harder, and so I did. I used to think to myself, “Do my peers want this as bad as I do?” I wanted to feel like I earned something. I wanted to make my mom proud.

As a Key student (a student who wears a yellow key to show that they have received an award and would get more opportunities), I was always dedicated, known to be honest and hard working. Maintaining good grades and showing up to school and completing tasks on time were the easy parts. The hardest part was knowing that everything was being judged or looked at. I knew how badly I wanted the scholarship so I had to think, “Were my peers working as hard as me, or harder than me?” Even if I was not chosen for the scholarship, this opportunity and competition pushed me to be a better student. I showed myself that I could rise to any challenge as long as I was focused and determined. After what felt like the longest six months ever, the day of announcing the selected student came. I was nervous and excited, and I knew I had gained confidence. After all, I committed myself to my full potential.

I was selected. They called my name to receive the full scholarship to Greene Street Friends School. As the feelings of excitement washed over me, I began to realize my peers who also worked hard were not selected. Instead of showing off and bragging about my win, I quickly humbled myself and silently accepted my scholarship. I congratulated my peers on a job well done.

Approaching the first day at Greene Street Friends, I was excited to meet new people but fearful of what to expect. Making friends, being in a new environment, and learning the curriculum felt like a fresh start for me. I didn’t know how hard it would be, but I knew I wanted badly to succeed. In the beginning things were rough; adapting to change wasn’t easy. I was so unsure of how people would view me knowing that I did not pay for school but had gotten a free scholarship. I didn’t want to feel like “the poor kid from public school” so I rarely talked about it.

Over the next few weeks I made some friends. They helped me feel comfortable and at ease enough for me to tell them about how I felt, and about my transition from public school. They accepted me. I would say that this school has a strict rule about equality. The Quaker SPICES played a part in everybody treating me equally. My experience at Greene Street Friends has made me look at competition differently because there isn’t really much competition here since everybody is treated equally. This makes me feel comfortable that I can be myself and that I don’t have to try to stand out in any way.

It has been a long journey, but I am learning and understanding more. I appreciate the opportunity, and I’ll always be grateful that I was selected.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2019

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