My four-year experience in an 8 min speech
If anyone told me I'd attended three different schools throughout my four-year high school career I'd probably look at them like they were crazy. High school is hard. Being a black person and leaving my community to get better education was hard. Being a black girl in a private high school in CT was hard. In the next couple of minutes, I will walk you through some of the good and bad I've experienced in 4 years and leave you with advice. Advice that I wish I knew before becoming a senior. If you don't know me, let me introduce myself.
My name is Niomi Brown, but I go by my middle name Bella. I'm from NYC, was born in Manhattan, and live in the Bronx. Before high school, I attended a middle school in Harlem, which introduced me to the sport of lacrosse in 7th grade. I played lacrosse and found that I was good at it. The next year, I received a text message from my Coach saying: "before the end of the day come to my office". I peeked my head through the glass window to see if she was there. I walked in and she looked at me and said "you're not in any trouble I just need to talk with you". She was smiling and she yelled with excitement "you received a scholarship to play lacrosse in a Boarding school!". At the time I didn't realize what boarding school was. I assumed boarding school was where bad kids go and I was always a good kid. I expressed to coach that I didn't want to but I appreciated the offer. That didn't stop my coach though. She reached out to my mom saying that she believed boarding school would be beneficial for me. My mom unfortunately agreed. I expressed to my mom and coach how I wasn't ready to leave home yet so, I was able to go to Frederick Douglas Academy, a public school where most of my friends went. FDA was the only high school that had lacrosse with my friends on the team.
Attending FDA was a pretty smooth transition from middle school because it is a very diverse school. It was a bigger school than I was used to but I knew a lot of people, which helped me to assimilate. But my high school coach, middle school coach, and mom wanted better for me. So we toured boarding schools. It was a long process, but once I saw the school facilities and saw how nice everything was, I was ready to leave FDA. Fast forward I got accepted into Springdale Preparatory School in New Windsor, MD. I got to meet the lax coach, the head of school, and was even able to have lunch with some of the students. I loved it. Until I got there...
Attending Springdale Prep was a big transition for me because I left all my friends and family behind. It was a smaller school than FDA. I was forced to room with people I didn't know. When I arrived at Springdale the staff briefly mentioned how the lax coach received his dream job at IMG and how they did not plan on offering lacrosse until I graduate. That was the worst news I could have gotten. I was recruited to a school to play lacrosse that didn't have lacrosse. However, I made the best out of my situation, made a lot of friends, and became close with the staff. They helped me build a lacrosse club which I believe is still running today. We provided all the equipment and gear and made it available for girls and boys in middle school and high school. Also, student life at the SPS was nonexistent so I created the Social Committee Club. We started the tradition of pep rallies, homecoming, dances, etc. Because SPS was such a small school, (65 kids from 6-12th), our events were made available to other private schools in the area. Then Covid happened and I realized that I could not stay at Springdale. I wanted to continue playing lacrosse and actually have a coach. I attended virtual meetings with other private schools and narrowed it down to two schools. I toured Wooster first and was sold.
Attending Wooster was probably THE hardest transition I had out of my 3 high schools. Because of COVID, I forgot how to socialize with others, and coming in as a junior made it much more difficult to make friends. Everyone in my grade had already had their "click". I showed up at Wooster 2 weeks late on a Thursday in leggings and a bright orange, Ocean City Maryland Sweatshirt. It was Convocation Day and everyone was in event dress. Not to mention this was the biggest culture shock in MY LIFE. Looking over the student population, I barely saw anyone like me. I can honestly say that in my junior year I lost myself. I've never been so shy, quiet, or scared in my life. Springdale was a boarding school, but it was diverse and FDA was diverse. In neither school was I a minority. I struggled for a long time especially because I barely took any classes with juniors. However, I eventually found my "group", which made my junior year so much more bearable! Upon joining lacrosse, I remember feeling anxious, scared, and worried. But being back on the field helped me get out of my comfort zone and I started to feel like myself again.
Attending Wooster for my senior year was THE best transition I had. Staying at the same school for another year, I wasn't worried about feeling like an outcast. I found that being a senior, only one year older, I cared less about what people thought of me, and more about what I thought about myself. In my senior year, I had a lot of good and bad times. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything. I've been racially profiled. I've cried multiple times about the college process and felt I wasn't at the academic level of everyone in my class. Several times, I was close to failing a class before the trimester ended.
But all in all, I've grown from this experience. Now I'm off to college in a few months and what I've learned through this experience is to not compare myself to others. We all have our own paths to take and I bring something unique to the table. I've also learned that it's okay to be different. Different is good, not odd. We all don't need to look or act alike, because if you think about it, the world admires people who stand out. My advice to you all is to form relationships and bonds with your teachers because they will become great mentors that will guide you through these high school years and help you figure out who you are to become. Go to class, and manage your time wisely. These probably sound cliche, but when you're a senior, it's easy to slack off, but don't. You're not done yet. In lacrosse we say, play all the way to the buzzer, stick with it, and finish strong. Good luck!!