New shoes have it rough. They are added to a closet not knowing anyone; they can be a bit stiff, and how long they’ll be in favor is not clear. Yeah, maybe they are looked at with great optimism and perhaps they’ll remain shiny and exciting for awhile. But it’s difficult to mix in with the preferred running shoes, or the dress shoes for fancy occasions, or the last “hopefully cool” pair that now seems to have found a “permanent home” in the back corner. It’s a life that few would ever seek.
The first week back from winter break is always hectic as its the start of a new semester. With that comes students checking in while others are checking out. The first day back I was cruising through our counselor suite at lunch. This area is always hectic as our nine counselors work with kids while others may simply hang there as its their spot on campus. And I’m totally good with that. This past Monday I came across a big guy standing with his dad, and they both had that “new student look” to them.
“Hey, are y’all new? Welcome to Bellaire.”
“Yes, we are checking in today. This is my son Brandon,” said the dad.
“11th grade?” I asked
“No. I’m a senior,” said Brandon.
“Changing schools senior year. Thats a big challenge,” I said.
“I’m not worried. It’s gonna be great.”
After assuring them they were in the right place and letting them know to reach out if they needed something, I kept moving on my way.
As I cruised through the following day, I saw Brandon in the suite again, this time kind of hanging by a bookshelf. We exchanged pleasantries and he said he was doing well.
Two days later I came through again, and Brandon was fully exchanged with the boys. Laughs were being shared and a couple awkward high fives were also tossed in. As I injected myself in to the conversation, I asked the regular fellas how it was going with Brandon. They said it was going fine. Brandon then shared an incredibly insightful statement.
“Out of all the places where I’ve been the new person, this is the first school where I wasn’t made to feel bad because I wasn’t at the homecoming game sophomore year. Or whatever big event that they have deemed was a “must attend” in order to be relevant. I love it here because people have just accepted me.”
Wow! I was in awe of his awareness of potential high school mores. It was clear that Brandon had endured on multiple occasions being the new person. He had likely felt joy and had clearly felt the sting of not being able to quickly find his place. I want to think that his quick transition and the expedient manner in which he found “his place” was because of our school. Truthfully, it may have been a piece of it yet I have to believe this kind of warmth is in pockets of schools across the country. I felt it significant because of his awareness of what could be. He entered the first day with promise of this time being different and he was able to find his group – join his tribe.
Finding your place in this world can be tough. And in schools it can be emotional and draining and scary. While schools have transition plans for kids who enter in August/September, I needed this reminder of how critical it is that we not lose sight of those that enter later. And that when your group of “regular fellas” step up and embrace someone new, let’s be sure to recognize them as well.
How are you supporting your students as they all search for their spot?