The muse hit me again! Hope this one is OK? It has been a while since we heard from Hill Street High so I decided to start slowly with the more "obvious" changes and let the School work its magic and begin to heal some hurting spirits. My thanks to JennC who got to see the preview. I will be continuing work on "The Revenenant" so please don't worry about that. As Jenn told me, "The Muse strikes when she strikes".
Hill Street High School was built in the early 1990’s in response to the town’s recent growth. Too, the old school was a remnant of the 1920’s, and looked it. The town had eventually given in to the inevitable and voted in a new school.
The new building had everything. As befitted area weather, it was totally enclosed (except for the athletic fields, of course). Yet its public areas never felt claustrophobic, for it relied a great deal on glass. The cafeteria was large and clean, the library well-stocked even with fiction, and the gymnasium included an indoor pool.
Perhaps the most unusual change from old to new concerned the lockers. The architect had visited the old school and had been shocked at the students crowding into too-narrow hallways made even worse by the lockers lining each wall. They were nearly impassable, and the man vowed not to carry that over. Instead he placed larger lockers in the gym’s changing rooms, and the rooms themselves were much expanded. There was a second, smaller changing room for each gender in case of overflow. Each student would use a single locker there, accessible at any time. In return the hallways would be clearer, quieter, with plenty of room on the walls for announcements, art, or displays. The architect felt the extra space needed for the expanded changing rooms was more than justified, and the students more or less agreed.
The architect put his heart and soul into the school, this community building for the good of all. The workers who built it were the same way. After all, they were a local firm; it’d be their kids going there.
All that care, all that attention, can have an effect. At Hill Street High School, it did. The place gained something of a soul of its own. It took care of the students -- the computer lab had almost no technical problems and the cafeteria food was unusually tasty. It took care of the teachers -- school supplies such as pencils and books were never in short supply and everyone’s drink of choice was available in the lounge. And it took care of itself. Litter was infrequent and disappeared quickly. The same could be said of graffiti. Each of the three janitors thought another had taken care of it. Sometimes they were even right. Everything was perfect.
And the school was happy.
But nothing lasts forever. Eventually the growth stopped, then reversed. Families moved away, and the changing rooms were not as full. As chance would have it, far more girls ended up moving away than boys. The secondary girls’ changing room became entirely empty. Other families moved in, but again more boys than girls enrolled. The boys’ secondary changing room approached capacity. And then, one day, passed it.
And the school was not happy.
But the school learned how to fix things, how to mould the students and faculty, as well as parents that came onto the school grounds for conferences and events. The school craved order and adjusted the student population; the adjusted families seemed happier and the school gained in confidence. Then the school learned that simple adjustment wasn’t always the answer; the case of two students, Danny Halding and Bree Miller, convinced the school that one person’s happiness couldn’t be at the expense of another’s. The love that grew between those two students filled the hallways with happiness. And the school learned. Sometimes, happiness is more important than order. And, when people are happy, things tend to be put into order without much effort. It learned from the episode with the McMahons that happiness and love produce order so much more effectively.
The students were happy, the teachers were happy, the parents were happy, and the school was happy.
“Mom, why do I have to go to school so quickly here?” Andrew asked with that characteristic whine of the teenage boy who already knows the argument is lost but form requires at least a semblance of resistance.
“Honey, we had to move to the States for my job and I couldn’t afford to place you in a boarding school. This way you can still live at home and you will make lots of new friends. The Americans are very friendly people but you’ve seen more of the world than many of them, that’s not a criticism but many do not leave their own State. Now Hill Street High is just ahead and we have our meeting with the Principal, Mr Harris.” Andrew’s mother Julia was a Consultant with a multi-national company and had been offered a better paid job but it involved moving from England and all they knew to the New World and a new life. That it also happened after they were still getting over the death of his father, killed by a drunk driver barely a year earlier allowed them to make a new start.
“Good Morning Mrs Stevens, I am Principal Harris, welcome to Hill Street High.” Giving a firm handshake, Mr Harris continued, “please have a seat. I’ve taken a look at Andrew’s academic records from his previous school, he appears to be a responsible, hard working person. I don’t think we should have too many difficulties finding classes in which he will excel although some classes are already oversubscribed and with Andrew arriving part way through the year we may not be able to cover all his first choices.”
“That’s understandable at the moment I don’t know if the job I have here is permanent. The good thing is that holding dual nationality has made moving back to the States easier for me and I hope it will help Andrew make a fresh start. He took his father’s death quite hard but I think he will do well here.”
“There is something that I need to discuss immediately with Andrew and there’s no reason not to mention it while you are here. Andrew, I’m afraid the only lockers available are in the Overflow Locker Room and we do have two sisters, Teresa and Patty McMahon using the room at the moment. Now, your gym classes will never coincide so there’s no danger of anything untoward and in fact you will have, in effect, your own private facilities for changing. I can assure you many boys would be happy with that!”
“Well Mr Harris, it’s OK I just want to fit in and get by.” Andrew replied, not especially worried by the room. He just wanted to get through the School Experience, hopefully without the bullying and name calling he had to put up with in the past.
“So when will Andrew know his timetable?” his mother asked, knowing that her work would leave Andrew isolated occasionally and if he could get engrossed in his work he should soon make friends. With an inner sigh Julia wondered how life would have had Andrew been her daughter but loved her son anyway. He had a wonderful generous heart but his father’s death had torn something out of him.
“We can have Andrew’s timetable and locker assignment ready Monday morning. Andrew will need to spend the first period just settling in and he can start lessons from the second period. I know the US Education System may appear a little strange but I have no doubt that Andrew will be able to cope.”
“Indeed, Andrew’s grades to date have been quite impressive and I am sure he will fit in easily here at Hill Street High” his mother smiled.
Andrew gave a weak smile, his mother meant well but as he had thrown himself at education to shield the pain of his father’s death, his mother had thrown herself into her work. He was not a sporting enthusiast, by no means unfit and a reasonable distance runner but happier with his books and had had a nagging feeling throughout his life that he didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the school at home. He wondered what Hill Street High had to offer him having no real experience of the new environment but wise enough to realise that TV was as useful as Dickens as a guide to what may happen when he went to school properly.
The School pondered upon its newest student, it felt the pain of Andrew’s loss and gently sent feelings of comfort towards him. Hmmm…another boy in the girl’s locker room. Before learning the lesson of Danny Halding, it may have rushed into ensuring balance but with the recent death of Assistant Coach McMahon it was possible that his two daughters could be just what Andrew needed to move towards healing for all of them? No need to rush into things, time to watch and to wait…
Andrew filled his locker with the books he needed for his days classes. A reasonably bright student but never the most athletic of people he was worried about his preference for literature and reading. He couldn’t stand to travel without a book to read, on occasion any book. “Andrew Mitchell, please report to Student Services, Andrew Mitchell, please report to Student Services” the loudspeaker blared its instruction.
“Great, now what?” Andrew mumbled as he walked out of the locker room and straight into the chest of a very large well-built young man… “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you.” Andrew mumbled. Great, just absolutely peachy I’ve just put myself on Jock Radar, he thought dejectedly and the day will no doubt get better… NOT!
“Hey, no hassles, that’s me, “No Hassle Castle” He held out a large hand, “you must be new here, welcome to Hill Street High” He gave a warm open smile.
“Thanks, I had a horrible thought that I had just appeared to be the nerd on Jock Radar” Andrew mumbled.
“No way, I guarantee that we don’t have that sort of thing at Hill Street High. Anyone that dumb would be off the team even before the Coach found out and definitely after he did. Look you get anything like that happening look me up and we’ll take care of things OK?”
“Sure, thanks. It’s kind of strange a new school and new country thrown in.”
“What, really? Sounds interesting, look want to join me for lunch and tell me more about yourself?”
“OK, looks like everybody has the same lunch times here. Not like back home where lunch could be at almost any time. Oh, I suppose here is home really, I’d best get used to that now my mom has moved here with her work. Still, thanks for the invite, I’ve got to get to Student Services…”
“No hassle, up the corridor and take the stairs to the right. See Ya!”
“You want me to take WHAT!” Andrew explained in shock.
“Look I’m sorry, but your grades are more than good enough for our Diploma and with respect Aerobics and Modern Dance Techniques will give you the flexibility and fitness to develop and I don’t think we can offer the sports you are more normally used to.” Miss Hunter smiled amiably at Andrew, she didn’t want to hurt his feelings and reading his record Andrew would not really fit in with the “Jock Crowd” as he was a rock climber and runner according to his file notes. Thank the stars he didn’t see the Home Ec and Office Skills courses but he is bright enough and still had his Physics and Chemistry options, I was able to fit those at least although he may be bored by Pol Sci.
The School felt Andrew’s frustration and sent more calming messages to the new student. Meeting “No Hassle Castle” had been a good move and should help Andrew to settle. No need to rush any changes, instead see how Andrew reacted to his new environment and he could meet Patty and Teresa later in the week… Yes, patience was the best option for now.
Tuesday had been little better than his first day for Andrew. Aerobics and Dance had not been anything like as bad as he thought. A number of the girls had given him warm smiles as he joined the group. Being a rock climber back home Andrew had enjoyed free climbing or bouldering, he had never had the upper body strength and relied upon his balance and agility for his technique. Perhaps these classes would help him?
Joining Jack for lunch, Andrew found him a friendly outgoing character and quite the reverse from the “Stereotypical Jock” that he had encountered in the past (on, if he were honest, TV). “Hey I bet that some climbing is pretty much like dance so it could be just what you need?” He reassured him.
“You could be right, I’m a technique climber rather than BFI” Andrew smiled, reassured by Jack’s impressive size and wondered how it would feel in his arms….What? Buddy bonding is one thing but no way am I like that? He thought.
“BFI?” Jack looked confused.
“Brute Force and Ignorance”, Andrew grinned back “I knew a few climbers who were able to handle climbs that I had trouble with because they were simply stronger than I was. I was more flexible but couldn’t handle the longer pitches because I always ran out of strength half way through.”
The School watched Andrew as he fought the feeling but oddly not as strongly as it expected… But not gay… almost as if... This one should be watched closely, no need to push. Interesting that he did not mind too much about the Aerobics and Dance classes and it can observe how well Andrew settles into place.
“Office Skills?” Andrew all but wailed at the news. “I thought I was taking Maths to keep up with the Science courses.”
“Well again Andrew, your results show that you’ve already met our diploma criteria and this course will help you with the day to day things you will find helpful in fitting in here. It isn’t that bad a course you know and I daresay your mother took something not dissimilar when she was a student.” Miss Hunter looked sympathetically at the increasingly confused Andrew.
”I’m not saying the course is bad or anything like that it’s just… well so unexpected.”
“I understand, but do please try to remember that the curriculum here is radically different from your own. Essentially, you started education earlier so in some respects are a little more advanced in terms of the subjects you’ve covered so It really isn’t anything to worry about.”
“OK ma’am, I get the picture, I suppose I could just go with the flow so to speak”
“Provided you keep your grades up Andrew I don’t think you will have any difficulties. So how are you settling in then?”
“Well it isn’t like back home, I’ve found people here to be really friendly and to be honest I quite like that.”
“I know, Hill Street High is such a friendly school. I think you are going to blossom here Andrew.”
“Well the classes seem strange but I suppose that coming from another country that’s just natural. I think I should fit in fine although I really don’t know much about the sports so taking Dance etc may have saved me from some potential embarrassment. That said I think I was a little impolite about the whole thing and I’m sorry about that Miss Hunter.”
“Not to worry, it could have been worse and it was rather a surprise for you I think your reaction was simply natural and it says far more about you that you apologised to me.” Miss Hunter smiled thinking how polite Andrew was he should fit in very well.
After Aerobics and Dance, Andrew went back to his room to change. He still hadn’t seen the two girls who were meant to share with him but wasn’t too worried. Jack was becoming a good friend accompanying him to meals and occasional classes. Odd, Andrew thought, he actually liked walking with Jack to lunch and classes. For some reason he could not put his finger on it felt right as though he wanted Jack to wrap his arm about his shoulders and hug him! Opening his locker the shower gel and shampoo he had kept there was missing.
Peachy, just peachy he thought. So somebody knows the combination and can get at my stuff. But why take my shower gel and stuff? Looking closer, Andrew realised that the bottles were under a bag but not where he left them. With a grimace at the thought somebody could get into his locker he unthinkingly grabbed the two bottles and went into the shower…
The floral aroma of the gel almost caused Andrew to run back out of the shower but he’d obviously been pranked and as the “new guy” he thought it was probably inevitable. Sighing Andrew rushed through the shower cleaning up and washing his hair. He’d find out who got him when they started laughing in class or the corridor. The floral scent was nice though…
A slower start indeed thought the School. Something gentler than in the past perhaps Andrew should meet the McMahons soon?
Drying off, Andrew quickly changed. I wonder if Jack is waiting? he thought. Now why did I think that he wondered. By now the scent from the shower gel and shampoo had, to Andrew at least, disappeared.
“Hi Andy, how’s it goin’?” Jack was waiting nearby. He smelt the scent on Andrew and thought it actually quite nice.
“Hi Jack, about these lockers…” Andrew looked embarrassed as he thought he would just ‘fess up about the prank.
“What about them Andrew?”
“Can anybody get hold of other people’s combinations?”
“What? No the school changes them each year to stop that and the combinations are kept secure when they do get changed. Why?”
Andrew blushed, “I think somebody pranked me and changed my shower gel and stuff.”
“Really there have been rumours for years about a “prankster” who operates in that room but I don’t believe a word of it. You probably didn’t notice the brand when you were shopping and just grabbed the one that you thought was normally there. Don’t worry about it nobody will say anything and I’ll be with you for a while too and you can tell me more about England.”
“Sure, but it’s Great Britain! I know most of the world thinks we’re just England or even London but that’s like thinking the US is just New York and California.” He smiled back at Jack already feeling more at ease as they walked to their shared class.
Excellent the School thought. The developing friendship between Jack and Andrew would help things develop further. The reaction to changing the shower gel and shampoo was encouraging there was no need to rush any changes…
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.