This I Believe

James - Georgetown, Texas
Entered on October 12, 2007

I believe in just saying no to lockers and yes to candy.

My senior year of high school, due to the growth of our student body, I was not awarded a locker. I made do for the first week of school, but at some point I was going to need somewhere to store my books. Luckily for me, Mrs. Seymour, who is the head secretary for the secondary office and who was also my service learning sponsor, cleaned out a little shelf in her office for me. Mrs. Seymour had a candy jar that she keeps on her desk, but it always ends up empty because so many kids come by to get candy. I decided to get her some candy so she would always have some. I bought her a large bag of hard candies and gave them to her, and at the after Halloween sale I purchased a cart-full of candy and put it in my locker, actually my shelf. I let all my friends come by and get candy whenever they wanted, and often when is aw a sad person in the hall I would throw them a hard candy or some chocolate. It always seemed to brighten their day.

Having my locker in the office also had other unforeseen blessings. We had a new student come to my school that year. We’ll say he was a 6th grader named “Michael.” I used to see him in the halls and would always say hi and smile at him. I try to get a hello or a high-five from everyone younger than I am. “Michael” was having some difficulty fitting into class. He had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADHD. I used to see him all the time in the office and realized it was because he was always in detention. I transferred to my high school in the 5th grade and I received my first and last detention in 6th grade. I cried that day and I realized how hard it must be for Michael to get multiple detentions. One day I learned that he had gotten suspended for actually fighting with another student. While at home, he told his mother that he wanted to switch schools and the he had no friends at our school. His mother told him he had to name one person who was his friend. After some moments of silence, he told her, “Thomas, from the office. He is always nice to me and talks to me.” His mom told me all of this when she brought him back to school after his suspension was up, and she thanked me profusely. Since that day I made an extra effort to say hi to him every time I saw him and make sure that his classmates saw that I thought “Michael” was cool. He started fitting in a lot better after that. He has not been by the office since then, except to get candy of his own volition.

Most students saw service learning as a blow-off class. You got an A in it unless you were flat-out rebellious. I saw it as a “service learning” class and as something I took with me and intend to implement for the rest of my life. This was beyond a college prep course, but rather a life course. Sometimes things do not end up how you want them, but it will often work out for the best. Just say no to lockers and yes to candy, in this I believe.