First Impressions by Lauren Ainslie

High School is scary, everyone knows that. My experience was no exception.

It’s the 26th of August, and I’m about ready to wet myself. The school is huge, the hallways make no sense, and I think I spotted someone with tiger face-paint. Welcome to Sota. But the thing that scares me most is my department. Will they be nice? Will they think I suck? Will I somehow manage to trip in the doorway? Millions of questions and scenarios are running through my head, because I have no idea what to expect. I walk in, (managing not to trip) and all of my expectations are shattered.

The room is very grey, which surprised me because I thought it would be full of color. There are black tables arranged in a square surrounding the rug, and they are filled with smiling faces, the faces of the rest of my department. There is a door leading out to a balcony overlooking the field and the wall on my right is entirely covered by whiteboards. A clock that has all the numerals replaced by various birds chimes softly. I nervously sit down. This was the part of Creative Writing I was most curious about, the part where I figure out what we actually do. The only thing I’ve heard from other students is that they think we sit in a dark room all day, write sad, angsty poetry, and hiss at sunlight. So far everything else I had suspected about CW was wrong, so hoped this was too. Thankfully, it was. The windows were open, there was no hissing as far as I could tell, and our summer requirements didn’t specify any sad poetry. My nervousness was starting to wear off, and I’m glad it did, because that moment was the beginning to one of the best months I’ve ever had.

There were writing prompts, poetry assignments, and an endless amount of name games. The first week went by in a blur of excitement, revelations, and frequent field trips. The reality of SotA Creative Writing was better than any fantasy I could have dreamed up. The other freshman in my department are amazing friends, my older writing-buddy showed me the ropes of this school, and my writing has improved immensely in the past five weeks. I can tell that everyone in the department deserves and wants to be there, and that active atmosphere is what makes my creativity blossom. I am so lucky to be involved in such a forgiving and cultivating group of artists. We are a family. If you give the assignments your all and print on time, anything is possible.

High School isn’t that scary anymore.

Lauren Ainslie, class of 2021

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