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Corona del Mar is an anomaly, one incongruity of epos proportion. Nestled in a protected pocket of Newport Beach, the ar is an alternative world the spins on its own axis: privilege, tough work, glamour, drama, and really, really an excellent kids. I should know. I simply spent my an initial full year of teaching at Corona del Mar High School. Room 504 to be exact—the nether regions of campus, otherwise recognized as the arts department, one unlikely location for one English teacher, however hey, it was the just room obtainable and first-year teachers do not complain, castle comply and also are happy to carry out so.
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Having spent my year of student teaching in ~ Laguna Hills complied with by a long-term stint as a substitute in ~ Mission Viejo, 2 high schools where socioeconomic status ranged indigenous upper-middle course to struggling, single-parent families, I had actually no idea what to intend from CdM or its decisively different demographic. These experiences, coupled with my own modest elevator attending institution in Bellflower, do me leery that rubbing shoulders with youngsters who had rarely, if ever, challenged financial adversity. Ns was simply thankful because that a job. That cares what ZIP password it’s in?
Kids space kids, right?
This to be what ns told myself together I ready my curriculum and met with other teachers, what I focused on during my first staff conference in the little Theater and also the development of our new principal—a smart, no-nonsense woman v a Texas drawl. Ns was excited. Ns was prepared. I was ready.
This, the course, was prior to the cheating scandal, the fugitive guardian (apprehended in October by Newport beach police), the audited grades, the controversial prom draft, the practically weekly platoon that TV news vans parked simply off campus at 7 a.m. This was prior to I interpreted the cockeyed axis, that most tilted that utopias. This was prior to I truly taken what it expected to be part of the CdM fold.
Let me back up. Allow me begin from the beginning. Let me begin with the anomaly.
The student body in ~ Corona del Mar is, for lack of a better word, enviable. Only 2,516 students comprise our whole student body this institution year, and also they have tendency to it is in smart, cultured, attractive, athletic, ambitious, and drive nice sweet cars. The first things that captured me turn off guard, though, were the thank-yous. I noticed lock the very first week the school. As soon as the bell signaled the finish of class, ns was met v a torrent of simple, sincere many thanks for the lesson together students filtered out. Odd, ns thought, yet really, yes, really nice. At an initial I figured student were simply trying to make me feel welcome. I was new; they can probably smell my fear. Yet the thank-yous continued, and also even grew more frequent as the year go on.
The following thing that struck me to be the students’ almost adultlike dedication. For anyone who has ever taught second school, you understand homework is a challenge. It’s almost unheard that to receive 100 percent that a class’s homework on any type of given day. However there ns was, stamping 38 the end of 38 assignments top top a regular basis. In fact, nearly every day in ~ CdM, i was pleasantly surprised by quiet plot of kindness, unabashed engagement, steadfast perfectionism, and a desire to get it right. Some even performed research at residence simply due to the fact that they to be interested in miscellaneous we debated in class.
Even after ~ the grade-cheating scandal which brought about the expulsion that 11 students and the suspension the a handful much more during the 2013-14 college year, the continuing to be students surprised me through their communal show of dismay, disappointment, and need come prove their naysayers wrong. In the mainly after that story broke, ns stood by as students led whole-class discussions top top the nature of integrity, honesty, and the push to obtain ahead. We discussed Lance Armstrong, significant League Baseball, Bernie Madoff, and that part of human nature in every of united state that would certainly cheat if guarantee we wouldn’t be caught.
I played devil’s advocate and also asked an overwhelming questions, however mostly i listened together 16-year-olds struggled because that the words come accurately explain their plight. The concerns they raised were universal: just how does one live a noble life in an ignoble world? Is it possible to execute what’s right and also still it is in the “success” their parents expect? What specifically is success?
As i listened to mine students comment on pressures (grades, colleges, jobs) and also stresses (homework, exams, CIF Playoff games, divorce parents, absence of sleep), i was reminded of the biblical adage, “From those to whom lot is given, much is expected.” ns was filled through a mixture the concern and pride because that the students the came v my door every day. Blessed v parents who noted academic support and also lavish vacations, this kids additionally were cursed with the expectations and demands the came through their upbringing.
Still, the vast majority were hopeful, innovative, eager advocates for change, ready to take it their location in the world. Inundated v individual and social pressures to succeed, my students to be happy, positive, excited around their futures. Work after day, they involved class prepared to engage, keen to please, ready to put in the occupational … and also I was rewarded not v a scowl, yet with a thank-you.
As seniors trickled past me to their seats at graduation last spring, ns swelled v pride—for them, because that what they will do accomplished, and for the human being they’d become. Each face glowed, beamed. Lock waved boldly to their families in the crowd. These children knew who they were and were making no apologies because that it.
Halfway v the ceremony, throughout an impassioned a cappella rendition the Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” the entire course of 2014 join in through the girls on stage, clapping, to sing the chorus, and dancing in your seats. I overheard who tell his friend, “This is the best graduation ever!” and mean it. Ns smiled then, recognizing how loaded his comment was with a collective pride—for the school, the administrators, and also a an elderly class that had actually stuck together v all the media coverage and also accusations, earning admission right into colleges and also universities in ~ 114 campuses roughly the people (including 5 Ivy Leagues and also eight UCs), while accruing thousands of dollars in strong and scholastic scholarships. For a moment, ns forgot about the drama and also basked in the bright of teenage pride and also accomplishment, genuinely proud come be part of the fold.
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Essentially, youngsters are kids. The youngsters of Corona del Mar just take place to be tinted with something special—hope and also pride in the tilt the their very own imperfect axis.