Rachel arrived at her new school a half-hour early for the new September term. She was so filled with excitement to be embarking on this new period of her life.
Campion Junior High school! One of the most respected schools in the country! She could hardly contain herself.
She had to wake up extra early to take two buses to get to this new location, but she didn’t mind. It was worth it to leave that elementary school of horrors. She felt like the Hansel and Gretel of lore, having outwitted and escaped the proverbial witch from her former school.
Last January Rachel and 50,000 other 11 to 12 year old sat the entrance examination to enter Junior High School/High School. Truth is, there were only spaces for about 6,000 children to enter Junior High each year. The remaining children who were not successful would have to either retake them the following year, if they were young enough, or leave their elementary schools and join the vast number of children in the underfunded and overcrowded Secondary Schools. The distinction was always clear. Children who attended Junior High were far better expected to continue on to university and experience more successes in life than their Secondary School counterparts. These High Schools had better paid teachers, higher budgets, smaller class size, and a proper working curriculum. Conversely, rare was the child who graduated from Secondary School who would continue on to university and climb the ladder of career success.
But for Rachel, it was more than just her future. At her age, she was unaware of such statistics.
She was always expected to succeed. Throughout elementary school, she was never less than first or second in her class. She was always self-motivated. By the time she had turned 9 years old and discovered she would one day leave the school, that had been her one focus: to get out quickly. She had skipped the previous grade, ended up in the examination class at the age of 10, and stayed there for two years until she was old enough to sit the actual exam.
Rachel’s drive to leave school was fueled by one person only: Kerry-Anne Simpson.
Kerry-Anne was the school bully. She was two years older than Rachel and had started bothering her when Rachel was in the fourth grade and she in the fifth grade. Kerry-Anne would steal Rachel’s lunch, call her names, and make her life miserable on the playground. Rachel’s torment increased when she skipped the fifth grade and landed in the same 6th grade classroom as her tormentor. To make matters worse, the two years she spent in this final grade was in tandem with Kerry-Anne. Not known for her academic prowess, the older girl had repeated the sixth grade because she had failed the exam the first time. For two years she was kicked, pinched, teased, and had her lunch money stolen on several occasions, by the dreaded, older Kerry-Anne.
But this was soon to change.
The results for the Common Entrance Examinations for Elementary Schools revealed that Kerry was successful and had been accepted into a top-notch Junior High school due her high grades.
Kerry-Anne was not successful. This was her second chance and she blew it. She would be attending a Secondary School in the new school year.
Rachel would finally be free of her elementary school bully.
Now, as she surveyed the classroom in her new school, she felt a sense of relief because she knew she was miles away from the bully who made her life difficult for the last 3 years.
More children started filing in to the classroom now. Rachel looked at their faces, all full of hope, just as she was.
Later on, years after Rachel had graduated, she would draw upon this childhood memory as one of the best she would ever have.
A large smile played upon her face as feelings of security and belonging started to envelop her. She would make new friends and foster long-lasting relationships, free of her former tormentor.