I switched schools last year, leaving behind my public high school and venturing into the unknown land of home schooling. I joined an online school, Veritas Press Scholars Academy, and since the day I transferred, I’ve found myself caught in a world of in-betweens. I am part of both worlds, the conservative home school crowd and the liberal public school scene, but I find myself caught so precariously between the two, so divided, that I cease to belong to either group. I am caught in the middle, a no-man’s land, neither homeschooled enough to be a true VPSAer, nor a public schooler any longer.
I haven’t been a part of VPSA from day one, since it’s only been a little over a year since I joined their ranks. I wasn’t raised with the Classical Christian curriculum all my classmates have been using since middle school. My incompetence reveals itself in many ways. I haven’t struggled through six years of Omnibus and I haven’t taken a single class in logic or rhetoric. I’m a senior taking Latin II with eighth graders; I studied Russian for two years, not Greek. I can’t talk about my favorite theologian and I’ve never read City of God. When I’m asked what my favorite Jane Austen novel is, I tell people its Northanger Abbey, but I don’t admit it’s my favorite because it’s the only Austen novel I’ve read. I hadn’t even heard the word Arminianism before this summer and I hadn’t ever compared it’s five points to those of Calvinism. I won’t be handed a diploma from VPSA in May, and I won’t be graduating with all my friends. I’m not highest honors, because only diploma students can be invited to the honors programs.
My VPSA friends aren’t struggling to apply to college in the same ways as me. They have a guidance counselor to handle their paperwork. They have a real, official transcript to send in the mall. I spend hours trying to create documentation of my schooling, and I’m juggling the roles of student, teacher, and guidance counselor. No one will be calculating my GPA on a five point scale, and no one will be reporting the highest level classes offered to me.
I go to VPSA, kind of, I’m a VPSAer, sort of, but, in reality, I’m not included in VPSA anymore than I was before I had ever even heard the words Veritas Press.
Worst still, when I’m with friends from my old public high school, there’s always one person who feels it their duty to remind me Staten Island Tech isn’t my school. Someone always points out I don’t belong in the group. Someone makes the joke that I “don’t even go here,” even though I’ve heard it nearly a hundred times and it stopped being funny by the fifth reiteration. I laugh when people make comments about me dropping out of high school, and I smile when they joke that I was too good for Tech. But really, they’re just reminding me that I gave up my friends, that I left the security every high schooler expects from freshman to senior year. They couldn’t imagine a world without the friends they’ve made over the past four years, but they don’t have a problem reminding me that I had to give up those friendships. They don’t think its an issue to call me their friend while simultaneously excluding me from their group. So I laugh when they make the same old jokes, but it makes me miserable, because, after all, they’re right. I don’t even go there. I’m not part of their friendships, and when I mention Tech, I’m not allowed to call it my school.
Both groups exclude me, and though I don’t blame anyone, as it was simply a natural result of my own decisions, I can’t help but miss the opportunities I should’ve had, the chances I could’ve had. I’m not part of a school anymore, because as hard as I work in VPSA, I won’t ever be a part of VPSA, and regardless of how long I spent at Tech, I became an outsider the day I chose to leave.
And sure, I have amazing friends, and sure, I’m happy with the decision I made to leave Tech. But I also never wanted to have to pretend to find it funny when someone reminds me that I don’t belong at a Tech sporting event because it isn’t my school, and I never wanted to have to be okay with being excluded from graduation just because I didn’t pay enough money or take enough rhetoric classes to be handed a real diploma.