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When I first entered Grade 8, high school didn’t seem like much of a big deal - just a far away illusion until ... our teachers started bombarding us with high school talk and eventually scaring the living daylights out of each and every Grade 8 student. It got worse during the school year. Month after month I started to feel the pressure piling up higher and higher like the untouched math worksheets on my desk. That was when I realized that high school was no joke. I couldn’t imagine what the high school students were going through - the sleepless nights filled with overdue, unfinished essays, culminating tasks, news reports, organizing cheats notes for midterm exams. All jokes aside, being a high school student looked to be mentally and physically exhausting. By this time in the school year, I was so ready to just drop out and start my own recycled newspaper clothing line. You can tell that I was not looking forward to being in high school. It took a lot of convincing and bribing from my parents. I finally gave in and continued my journey, mind filled with positivity and pockets filled with my parents’ money.


After a few more months in Grade 8, my spontaneously positive self got a nudge of reality, by reality I mean course selection. What was I going to do? What was I going to choose? How would these choices affect my recycled newspaper clothing line? I was a mess, a cloud of confusion. I tossed and turned the night that I handed in Grade 9 course selections - thinking I had made all the wrong choices, should I bother Ms Felicia tomorrow or next week? My friends were in the same boat. It felt amazing when I discovered I wasn’t the only one who was paranoid and nervous about this. After that discovery, I wasn’t as concerned. That wonderful feeling lasted only a few moments but it gave me a boost from where I was standing, and only had to bother Ms Felicia once! Fast forward to today and here we are. I am still worrying what will become of me in high school and whether I will be able to graduate. The truth is no one can really not feel nervous about high school, except the geniuses that read dictionaries for fun. High school is a gigantic leap but you just have to imagine it as riding a rollercoaster: you don’t know what to expect in the waiting line; you don’t know if you’re gonna like it or not; you hate the riders that are on your ride especially that kid who is wailing in the waiting line, and you feel like you wanna puke. But what do you do when you’re riding roller coasters ? You hang on to the safety straps. It might be difficult to do that in Vietnam since our safety equipment isn’t excellent, but ... you continue and hand on for dear life and the longer you hang on, the easier it gets. You might scream, accidentally slap the attractive person next to you, eat some bugs on the way but before you know it, the ride is over. The ride that you were so afraid of and so reluctantly joined has ended, and you didn’t fly off along the way and you might have even made some new friends. So next time someone complains about school, just tell them to hold on tight. The year still hasn’t ended yet.

I haven’t completed my training. I haven’t evolved to my final form yet. So I can’t properly say this is my high school preparation journey, it’s just what I’ve experienced so far but it is a chance for me to say good luck to the Grade 7s because they’ve got rough roads ahead. This is also another opportunity for me to say how much respect I have for the high school students of the CISS system: you all are incredible humans, not a lot of people could deal with it the same way you guys do, I also wish you guys the best of luck cause you still have postsecondary waiting. I hope that by reading this article, I have given you sense of the chaos that has been surrounding me and I apologize for possibly scaring the future high school students of CIS.

Dong Dao - Grade 8, CIS