We are not numbers!

Location

Leesville Road High School
United States

Cold cinder blocks covered in thick, distorted white paint that tries to hide the sharp, rough edge of the bare blocks.

Dirty, gritty floors, made of hardened, unfriendly linoleum, a pathway through the cruelly structured hallways students walk through in a mindless monotonous cycle.

The sterile cold penetrates their clothes into their skin and bones, pulling a grey haze across their eyes with only the desperate fluorescent lights to provide a shaky light in the dimming building they are forced into day after day.

As children, the colors filled each classroom creating an invitation to come learn; now each classroom is decorated in practicality and colored with productivity.

Where is the joy of learning?

Where is the enthusiasm flowing from child to child via the educators?

Where is the color that should fill such a public place?

How can we learn like this?

Who thought this might work; this plan of crushing individuality and brilliance?

all of us a number, like Jean Val Jean in les miserable, hearing numbers spat at us, “2-4-6-0-1!” by so many Javerts as though a red hot brand of our number is branded onto our very soul. 

Our souls, lying undiscovered and in disrepair; no one there to help it grow strong and work with our mind in tandem.

“2-4-6-0-1!”

Forced to work past the breaking point, because our future depends on it and society expects it.

“2-4-6-0-1!”

Our underdeveloped brains are expected to spend 6 hours a day in this prison-like, soul-draining, brick building, and then are expected to work overtime, bringing work home with us so that extra-curriculars drain us and there is no desire to learn anything else, and no desire to follow curious tendencies of our own.

Where is the inspiration that leads to the creation of the minds of our future?

Occasionally there is a teacher who can truly inspire a class, who can instill in them the desire to pursue musings and passive questions that appear in the banner of their thoughts. A teacher who can create an atmosphere of warmth and family, of a community in one classroom, a place of safety and serenity, a place where the timid and shy can become confident, where those lacking motivation can find something that motivates them, where there is understanding and sincerity, where each child can take off their self-made armor and relax without its weight tensing their muscles.

“2-4-6-0-1!”

We are not numbers!

We are hundreds of independent creatures running on our own brand of fuel.

Every child is so different, so unique, and unable to be categorized!

Their feelings are different, what is seen on the surface may not be what is underneath their mask of complacency and contentment that they created to enjoy the privacy of their own thoughts. 

Because a curriculum requires certain things, certain goals, certain scores, children learn to forget their own queries, to focus on the information fed to us in a constant stream like the constant pace of an assembly line, and to follow a system that will lead to scores rather than knowledge.

“2-4-6-0-1!”

Unapproachable teachers do the bare minimum and nothing more, too much paperwork floods their already full desks so that they find no time to expand our minds as well as our test scores.

An unhappy, cold, unapproachable demeanor scares away the children who need someone to turn to, someone they know and see every day; a rock in the unsteady life they live.

The kid that sleeps in class? He works 2 jobs so he can help pay for his little brothers medical care and the rest of his siblings as well; he works till 4 in the morning and then does homework.

The joker of the class? His parents were never home and he just craves the love of someone

The girl who never joins the conversations? She has severe anxiety.

The girl with a bad attitude? She has never heard a kind word from anyone, she has had to fight all her life to just survive.

The kid that comes to class in the same clothes every day, looking a mess? He is living out of a car with his family.

The fighter? His father has beat him and his brother his whole life, the only thing he knows is to fight.

The drug addict? His mom got him hooked when he was a little boy.

The girl who breaks dress code? She’s hiding the scares and bruises on her body.

The girl everyone calls a slut? She is sexually abused by her parents and is trying to fill the painful void in her life.

The nerd that sits alone? He has no friends and that’s why he is always picked last for group work.

The kid that skips school? No one knows his mother is dying of cancer.

The girl that sometimes comes in looking as though she has been crying? She hates the way she looks and was just in the bathroom trying to get rid of the breakfast inside of her.

The boy that comes in, never having done his work? He doesn’t have time to do his homework; he’s too busy trying to raise his little brother and sister on his own.

Every face in a classroom has a story, a history, a life that makes them a unique case, that makes a rigid black and white, right and wrong, smart or dumb system ineffective.

No one takes the time to see that, not teachers or peers, they suffer in silence, falling behind in school because the expectations for the child who lives in a completely healthy family are the same for one of the ones that struggle with inner and outer demons every day.

From one hell to the next, how can the grammar in their paper be important to them when they have to worry about bigger problems?

How can a school expect the same things from them? The ones who struggle in silence?

Who is there for them to talk to?

Why should they come to a place with so many demands of them?

Their life is a bigger complicated picture, their story is an intricately colored clothe, the color of their spirit, their soul is sucked away by the coldness the world shows them and their dreams r leeched away by the system that gives them a number and moves on.

“2-4-6-0-1!”

no! No! nO! NO! NO!! Noo!!!

They are not numbers!

They are our future!

Troy, Mia, Darnell, Sarah, Lukas, Gunner, Jessica, Danni, Jared, Zach, George, Jada, Rachel, Meredith, Chris, Beverly, Maleek, Alex, Marley, Ga’Vintay, Jonathon, Paige, Kylie, Michal, Robert, Sophia, Christopher, Amy!

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