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First Day of School Blues


YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia , News Feature, Vanessa Vega Posted: Sep 19, 2008

Editor's Note: As young people across the country head back to school, Vanessa Vega, 17, writes about the many challenges she must face on her first day back at Baden High, a continuation school for at-risk San Francisco youth. Vanessa is a contributor to YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first day of school started like any other at Baden, with the smell of new books in the air and with students dressed to impress. The halls echoed with the sound of the first bell. This would be my second year at Baden continuation high school in South San Francisco, and I was eager to get started.

My first period was math/science. I was the only one participating as usual, while my peers drifted off into their own world, chatting on their phones, going in and out of the class, or just talking to each other.

Someone passed me a love letter from a boy I met last year. He had written me while he was in juvenile hall a few months ago. He poured out his heart on paper, saying what he felt for me was unreal and that he hoped I felt the same about him. I wouldn't say we were together as a couple. It was more like a love-hate relationship, Bonnie and Clyde minus the crime.

This year is supposed to be my year to shine. My year to graduate. My year to prove wrong everyone who ever doubted me and said I would never make it. I mean, yeah, I messed up in the past BIG time, but I've grown to realize it's time for a change. The past is behind me, and it's time to progress and proceed.

But the first day back in school also became one of the worst days in my life. It started when I got called into the principal's office. I stay with my grandma and her address is what keeps me enrolled at Baden. The school district was saying that it wanted to see legal court papers stating my grandma was my temporary guardian.

My heart dropped to my stomach hearing my principal tell me, "This is the end of your journey." I could no longer attend Baden because I was staying with my mom over the summer to work, but the school thought I still lived with her. I was almost finished in high school and now I was being dropped. It's like everything and anything that could was bringing me down. It was all just a misunderstanding.

While I was in the office dealing with this, I was getting AIMS (AOL instant messenger) like crazy from a friend about how I need to stop talking about his friend, Yasenia, and how I need to get over myself. Yasenia was a girl I didn't even know, someone who didn't matter to me. I came to school this year as a senior with the mentality of "f--- friends," because I was the only one who was going to make sure I graduated and got farther in life. And now my seriousness was getting mistaken for cockiness. I was already upset and this was just another slap in the face.

I was on my way to say good-bye to my favorite teacher when I felt someone burning holes in the back of my head, staring at me with a mean look. Everyone who knows me knows I have a bad temper. I turned around and it was Yasenia. I laughed in disbelief. My first instinct was to just hit her one good time, but I couldn't. I had come too far to let it all go because of some girl, and I knew I would regret it later.

The long lectures from my mom and dad about keeping the violence to a minimum and becoming a woman replayed in my head. I had to bite down on my pride. I'm a changed person. I have a whole different outlook on life now. I speak my mind, and she wasn't going to keep me from doing that. So I went off after she called out my name. It got verbal, but hey, it was only words. I'm proud that I didn't hit her while I had the chance. The old me would've gotten down to business and probably ended up in juvenile hall. I know I could've handled this situation better, but my anger was raging and I slipped. This was exactly why I chose not to have friends.

As for my school situation, my grandma and my mom are fighting it. Hopefully, after we meet with one of the school district members I'll be back in Baden. They have no reason to give me the boot, especially while I'm residing in South City.

As for my high school love, well, the day after I got dropped from Baden High he came to school with hickeys all over his neck. I guess he didn't love me like he seemed to think he did. Later on that day, he got caught up with the law once again, this time for a dirty pee test and possession of a firearm. As usual I lost another one to the streets. All I ever tried to do was push him to do good. But I can't see for him. I just wish him the best and, hopefully, while he's locked up he'll write to The Beat Within because after reading the "love letter/poem" in class I realized he has skills in writing poetry.

I'm writing this to clear my mind and to build up my determination to not let people get the best of me. I just want to get back in school. I know it's not always going to be peachy keen. Friends aren't always the people we think they are. As for me, I plan on finishing high school no matter what it takes. I know I'll make it. I have too much faith and determination to give up now.

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