When I was in the sixth grade I came home from a typical day at school and was certainly expecting the same for my evening at home. As I walked through the door I immediately noticed that something was different. My mother was ecstatic and stood in the living room clutching a piece of mail. She told me that I had received a scholarship to attend Catholic school the following fall. This was not exactly good news for me; I always thought Catholic school children were like robots without personalities. I had no interest in changing schools, making new friends or commuting. The public school that I had attended since kindergarten was directly across the street from where we lived and I had grown comfortable with this arrangement over the years. Just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse my mother informed me that she would be picking me up after school so we could go shopping for the school uniform. Wearing a uniform was alien to me; I enjoyed my evening task of picking out my own school clothes. I had no idea what I was being forced into; a school that told their students what to wear must not grasp the concept of individuality. There was no chance of putting a damper on my mother’s great mood.
The next day was a mortifying experience. The school uniform consisted of a yellow shirt, a green vest, a green sweater and an absolutely hideous green plaid skirt. My mother tried to tell me that I looked like a beautiful young lady, but the mirror in front of me told a different story. I looked like a tan leprechaun and I could not grasp why the school would force its students to dress this way. Was it possible to have a uniform that was a bit fashionable? Before I knew it I was standing in front of my new school, Holy Spirit Catholic School, and I was being ushered into the school gymnasium to start off the first day of the school year. Although everyone else was in the same ridiculous uniform I couldn’t help but feel completely out of place. It got even worse when we started off with the Morning Prayer, both of my parents are Hindu and I had no idea what everyone was saying in unison. I wanted more than anything to run out of the gymnasium and go back to my public school where saying prayers wasn’t even allowed.
Once I entered the classroom I was taken aback by how friendly everyone was. The other students were all talking to me at once and asking question after question. If there would have been a new student at my old public school it probably would have taken a few days to notice they existed because the school was so large. This was not the case at Holy Spirit, there was only one class of each grade and I was the only new student in my seventh grade class. Although my public school friends had warned me to be cautious with the snobby Catholic school children I was having a hard time finding the snobs. Everyone was trying to help me become familiar with the tiny school and warning me about which nuns and priests to be on my best behavior with.
One girl even wrote down the Our Father and Hail Mary so that I could memorize it and be prepared for Morning Prayer the next day. In the end I still thought I looked ridiculous in the uniform, but I embraced my new school and new friends as they went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable at Holy Spirit. They had apparently heard some stories about public school children and were glad to see that I didn’t fit the stereotype. My new friends had no idea that I was secretly relieved to find that they didn’t fit the stereotype either. There wasn’t a robot in sight.