Monday, February 4, 2008

My High School Years

I spent my high school years at three different schools. I started my 9th grade year at Groton High school and I made some friends, but nothing like my previous schools. The thing that shocked me most was that I was placed in a 10th grade French class. I was more advanced than the 9th grade students there because I had started the foreign language classes before them. I was in a restricted gym class which is where I met my best friend from that school. She was in there because of her CP. We became attached to each other and I spent a lot of time at her house with her Mom, Stepdad, and two brothers. I think that this is the only friend/family from Groton that I still have contact with. I go to her parent's house kind of frequently even though they live 90 minutes from me. I spent New Years with them this year. Anyway, towards the middle of my 9th grade year, we moved for some reason that I can't remember and I was then in Cortland school. I absolutely hated that school and don't have much to say about it. I met some good friends, even dated one person (also met him in a restricted gym class), and there was one person who was there from a previous school that I went to. She and I talked a little, but not much. I continued to be in band at this school but felt that I didn't really belong no matter how hard I tried. The band teacher tried failing me for not marching/playing my flute in the Memorial Day parade. Um hello....I have Cystic Fibrosis which is a lung problem!!!! I couldn't play my flute and march at the same time. I got a doctor's note and he passed me.

I guess that I did okay grade wise in Cortland, but as I mentioned it just didn't feel like home. Toward the end of the school year, there was a murder on school grounds and I told my Mom that I no longer wanted to attend this school. She listened and we moved when she found another job. I started my 10th grade year nice and fresh at Homer High School. I fit in rather quickly and absolutely loved this school. It was easy to explain my medical condition my friends and I even laughed at some of the stuff that happened to me. Not too far into my first year at this school, I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. I got so many get well wishes from friends and people who I didn't even know. I got better rather quickly and was right back into my new school. Another thing that I liked was that I was again advanced in French and was in an 11th grade French class. Also, some of the teachers that I had, I had more than once. All three years of French, I had the same teacher, Mrs. Agate. She is an absolutely wonderful person!! You'll hear more about her later. I had Mr. Valentine for Global Studies and then again for Economics. I had Mr. Cortese for American History and then again for Government. I had Mrs. Nobel for Proof (Math) and Pre-Calculus I and II. It was nice to have the same teachers because I didn't have to explain my Cystic Fibrosis all over again.

My gym classes were not as they were in the other schools because Homer did not have one like that. My 10th grade year was spent in a regular gym class, not doing everything that they did. Toward the middle of the year, I just started walking the track or whatever I could so that I was still in a gym class. We moved within the school district and I ended up living just down the road from a girl who was a year behind me. Beth and I became friends really fast although we are complete opposites. I used her for her indoor pool and she used me for my trampoline (ongoing joke that we have). We were inseperable. That is also the year that I turned 16. My friends decided that it would be great to send me some balloons and flowers to the school and to post my picture up all over the place saying that it was my Sweet 16. I had people telling me happy birthday for the rest of the year (my birthday is in the beginning of June). In 11th grade I started being hospitalized more. I had to drop a few courses because I was taken out of school for 3 months due to a really bad case of pneumonia. I had a new band teacher (the old one had left) and I did not like him at all. I dropped one of my best subjects and the one that I enjoyed the most, band. I did continue playing my flute though. I also had to drop Chemistry because I couldn't do the labs at home. Of course, I was also taken out of gym. First, I couldn't do it because I was not there and second, I couldn't do it because of my compromised lungs and swollen spleen. The doctors were afraid that I would get hit in the abdomen and it would rupture my spleen. Other kids were complaining that I didn't have to take gym class. All I heard for the rest of the year was "You can't graduate without a gym class." My response was, "You can if you have a medical condition that won't permit you to be in one."

So, what did I do to get my school work done? No tutor for me. I had an excellent teacher who brought my classwork, homework, and tests to me and when I was finished, she took them all back to the school. Who was this??? Mrs. Agate, my French teacher of course. She lived right up the road from me and we had a pretty close relationship since this was the second year that I was in her class. She was not able to help with much of my work other than the French so I pretty did everything on my own, self-taught. I was in Course III Math that year, which I believe was Algebra and Trig. The teacher that I had for that course told me that I wouldn't pass the regents exam because I missed too much school. I told him that I had done fine on my work and tests while I was out so I still wanted to take it. I did well in all of my courses that year. I had been out from December to the end of March (I think) and although I did well on my own, I was glad to be back in my classes and around my friends. I caught up in all of my classes and took all of the final exams and regents on time. So, how did I do on the Course III Regents Exam? I got an 86! I admit that I would have done better had I not been out for 3 months, but come 86 is well above passing. I had been told that I would have to repeat the 11th grade, but no way was I going to let that happen. Oh, I never went back to a single gym class that year either. I had study hall instead. Prom time came around and I wasn't sure if i was going to go because although I had a lot of guy friends, I had no boyfriend and didn't know if I would ask any of my guy friends. My friends asked on of my guy friends for me. His name is Kellen and he was in the 9th grade at the time. I know that it's kind of odd to take a Freshman but he was a friend and my friends thought that it would be fun. He went with me and it was a blast!! I have a lot of great pictures from that night! I passed everything and was on to my Senior Year!!!

That summer (1998) was a summer that I will remember forever. That is when I met Nate. I already knew his family, in fact, his Uncle is married to my Aunt. Even before they were married, I knew his brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. I'm not really sure when I met his parents but I already knew them too. He had finished school out in Cleveland and was in the area when his family was throwing their yearly bonfire at his Grandparents house. I was there like I always was. I normally spent a little bit of time at my Aunts house during the summer. Nate was there this time and he was working on a truck. I was outside and started asking him if he knew what he was doing. He got a kick out of it. I am 3 years younger than him. We saw each other that night at the bonfire and kind of hit things off. We stayed up talking until 4AM. I thought that would be it since he lived about 90 minutes away from me. That wasn't it though. He called my Aunt and asked for my number. She called me to make sure that it was okay and I told her yes. We talked all the time since then and he came down to see me on the weekends.

During my Senior year, I continued to get sick but I don't think it was anything like the year before. I had a really full course load because I wanted to stay busy. That year I took, PreCalc I and II, Health, French V, Driver's Ed, English, Government, Economics, and Microsoft Office. Believe it or not, I still had time for Study Hall in there somewhere. It was nice because I had Study Hall with my little sister who was in 9th grade at the time. Most people would hate being in a class with a younger sibling, but I liked it. It gave me someone to talk to.

November of that year, my Mom and I were not seeing eye to eye so I moved in with Beth and her parents. Nate helped me move my things and I lived with them for about 7 months. They had a nice big house and Beth was the only child left living at home. I had to follow their rules and I also paid them rent out of my SSI check that I got every month. Whatever I wanted that they normally wouldn't buy, I bought myself. I spent Christmas with them and got a few gifts from them. Nate was the winner with getting me my first set of gold and diamond earings. He also stuck some silk red roses in my stocking. It was a great Christmas. I was also learning to drive that year, that's why I took Driver's Ed. I wanted to learn more than was being taught to me at home. I had bought a car from Craig and Rhonda (Beth's parents) and got my own insurance. I did really well in Driver's Ed and took my road test after I finished the class. I passed the road test on my first try!!!! Since I took the Driver's Ed class, I got a reduction in my insurance and I was able to drive after dusk before I was 18!

The Prom was shortly after I passed my test. Of course, I already knew who was going with me, Nate. He rented a tux and he bought me a nice dress. He got me a wrist corsage that I still have because they are silk flowers. That's when we had our first "professional" pictures taken together. That night was really fun. Kellen, the guy who went with me to my Junior Prom, was also there again. He went with one of my friends this time. This was all ending my Sennior year that the teachers thought would be my Junior year again. I'm so glad that I don't listen to people sometimes. I had my graduation party at Craig and Rhonda's before I even graduated because I knew that I was graduating. Classes and tests ended and even though it's great to graduate, it's sad to leave friends behind. We had our graduation rehearsal where we got our caps and gowns and ropes for Honor Society, Graduating with honors, and whatever else. They were calling names for the gold ropes (graduating with honors) and I heard "Patricia Caulkins." I was completely shocked. My grades had fallen a little so I didn't think that it was even possible that I graduated with honors but I did. My overall high school average was like a 93. Boy was that a defining moment in proving some of my teachers wrong!!

Graduation day was awesome!!! All of my classmates dressed in our caps and gowns, listening to the speaches, and waiting to walk across the stage. I was so awe struck, that I didn't even hear that I had received two scholarships! It was advised that I wait to go to college because of the problems that I was having but knowing that I got 2 scholarships, it was a sign to me that I had to go now. I went on to Tompkins Cortland Community College in the fall of 1999. I was the first, and eventually the only, child out of me and my siblings to even graduate high school and I was going on to college!!!

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