Being at the Top of the Food Chain

Daniel Raimer, Staff Writer

My last first day of middle school – at last! There I stood at the crossroads of excited anticipation and an unexpected melancholy. I was happy to finally be at the “top of the food chain,” even if it is just an imaginary authority. I walked into school with my head held high, feeling self assured in the comfort of the familiar and ready to face the challenges ahead. That confidence was a bit shattered when a teacher mistook me for a 6th Grader by gently asking me if I needed directions to my advisory. It was an understandable error partly because we are still wearing masks, and partly because I am undeniably vertically challenged. Yes, there are 6th Graders taller than me, but I thought my confidence would exude the maturity of my years. However, I refused to let that mistake dampen my spirit! While I knew this year was the end of fun and games and the year to get serious, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for what was in store.

Every first day of school is different. Some are exciting and some are nerve racking, but this one was special. I felt something new: a feeling as if I were floating on Cloud Nine. Seventh grade was undoubtedly one of the best years of my life, but if it is at all possible, I am eager to match it, if not, top it. 

On that first day, there was certainly a gaping hole in my heart as I walked past the rooms of my favorite teachers that have moved on; however, I continue to be grateful for the confidence they gave me to approach this school year with a new attitude. I remember silently saying to myself, “You got this!” as I strode into my advisory and  introduced myself to my awesome advisor, Dr. Chestnut. I was excited to hear the happy chatter among old and new students. I thought, “This year is going to be amazing! Nothing can stop me now!” Except, this was all somewhat untrue. Like presumably every other middle school student on their first day, I was nervous, sweaty, and even a little bit scared. Those emotions were assuaged when I was greeted by close friends and reminded that this was my last year in middle school. I thought to myself that I might as well make the best of it. 

I am so overjoyed to be an 8th Grader for many reasons: I was excited to meet the new students on the first day and make new friends, excited to try out different sports and club opportunities, and excited to possibly participate in student government. I am thrilled that some of the COVID-19 precautions restricting social interaction have been removed. For instance, the plexiglass around each desk last year made it hard to communicate at times. Now, I can finally do a group project without feeling so isolated. 

Even though I was looking forward to this year, I was still rather skeptical and nervous about what the year would be like. Will my workload be too much? How will I be able to balance school activities and my extracurriculars? Fortunately, I am constantly reminded of the positive changes this year brings despite the continued impact of the pandemic on my academic career. As the “top of the food chain,” I am hopeful for more positive change, and maybe one day, I will even be able to return to a simple, maskless smile.