By Mariel Gousios

photo taken by Mariel Gousios

Oftentimes when we go through a school system with nothing else to compare it to, the experiences can get blurred. Many of the everyday things become boring when we get used to them. This happened to me before I switched from a charter school in New Hampshire to Williamsville East High School this summer. However, with a fresh set of eyes, I’ve been able to see some of the unique and interesting aspects of Williamsville East that makes us all lucky just for being able to attend. Yes, even though we have been forced to pursue online schooling, I still feel that the experience at East is special and noteworthy.

Even as someone who had no walls at their previous school(I know, shocking, another school with no walls)I find the lack of them helpful in this instance. My first instinct when seeing all the classrooms was not to complain about the noise from fellow classes that could’ve been drowned out with a fourth wall, but it was to appreciate the existing structure of the classroom. I truly feel that with only three walls for most rooms, it connects the school. Instead of sitting through class waiting for it to be over, you’re reminded that everyones there to learn or to help others learn. It prevents feelings of claustrophobia and, somehow, I feel as if it encourages me to work harder. At the school that I came from, having mostly office dividers instead of walls was an accident and was viewed as a fault. You could always hear the other classrooms and many students wanted more funding in order to box up the school and give each classroom four perfect walls. At East, having no walls was part of the original design and was one of the first things I found I liked about the school. Instead of finding issues with it, I value it as one of the things that make East great. Admittingly, this is one of the features that none of us have been able to appreciate in the recent past. 

One of the aspects that we can appreciate, though, is the quality of education at East. At my previous school, the teachers came from all different backgrounds. While this was beneficial in many aspects, this meant that more teachers than you would expect didn’t have any education degrees. There were a lot of teachers who had their doctorates in the subject they taught, but they were used to teaching college students. It’s hard to explain, but at East, there’s a sense of fit when walking into the classrooms. I’ve been surprised by how supporting and helpful the teachers are here. I feel that a common theme is that they’ve all been focused on one goal: doing well in the course and the exams. That’s especially important to keep students goal-oriented and successful. Instead of feeling thrown into a new school district, I’ve been reassured by faculty that I could come to them with questions or help if needed. It’s something that I’ve greatly appreciated, as well as the experiences I’ve had with everyone else.

One of the first things that I noticed about East was how friendly and open everyone was. It’s been the most impactful aspect of the school, making my time as a new student easier. Even though I’ve only had two days of in-person school, I still felt how welcoming and kind other students were. Surprisingly, I already have a growing appreciation for the school and the people involved. East has fulfilled any previous expectations I possibly could have had. All I have is an immense thanks to everyone who contributed to this experience. It took a little while to get used to my different surroundings, so I’m glad that the school has only made this easier. Even though this year seems much different than any others, I’m hopeful and optimistic that this is just the beginning of the good that’s yet to come. 

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