To Be Known

Enjoying Creative Life with Wes
Overwhelmed. Full of fear. Defenses up. Lonely.

This is the reality for all too many students as they walk the halls of their high-school. In the hustle and bustle of over 2000 students in the hallways, it is easy to feel lost and feel like just another face in the crowd. Many of the students that I encounter feel like they are fighting for survival in this place, longing for friendship, companionship and connection. They long for someone to notice when they are feeling down, someone to talk to about that hobby they love that everyone else thinks is weird, and someone that will bring their favourite candy and want to hangout with them for the lunch break. They just want someone to know them.

In every highschool there is usually at least one room that seems to be filled with students instantly the second the bell goes for the lunch break. These rooms all have two things in common; couches and free food. The smell of popcorn being popped and bagels being toasted brings swarms of hungry and tired teens to one of the only places they feel safe and comfortable in the whole school. It is in this room at Walnut Grove Secondary that I like to spend the majority of my lunch periods and where I met “Rebecca”, a grade 11 student. In just a short while, I learned that she loves starbucks, hates math, lives to play softball and her and her bestfriend are basically inseparable. However in the weeks to follow, I got to know her a little more as she shared with me the highs of her birthday weekend and the lows of her recent breakup with her boyfriend.

One day, after school, “Rebecca” and I were at Starbucks and I asked her the question “what has been something in your life that has defined who you are today?”. She gave some vague answer about how things had been rough at home in her teen years and I knew there was a piece of her story that I had been missing. She finally looked me in the eye and said “My dad died in an accident when I was 10 and I got in an accident shortly after and lost all of my childhood memories, including a lot of my memories with him”. After this, I was able to make a little more sense of the comments she had made about her home life and the way she avoided talking about her childhood at all cost. She is not just another face in the crowd, she is known.

There are so many students like “Rebecca” walking the hallways, rushing in to toast their bagel before the lunch break ends, or sitting quietly by their locker. Students that simply want someone to listen. That want someone to ask them the deeper questions and to notice them. Students that want to be known.

Thank you for making it possible for me to have the opportunity to get to know the students at Walnut Grove Secondary School.

- Philippa Chapman


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