High school seen from a different perspective

Jake Lunsford, Staff Reporter

I felt a bit like Lindsay Lohan’s character from Mean Girls on my first day at FHS. I came to Fauquier my junior year, three weeks after moving to Warrenton from the exotic land of San Francisco. I had been homeschooled all my life; walking into hallways filled with over 1,200 kids with backpacks, hustling to class, was rather intimidating. I also am legally blind. While I can see, my vision is very limited, and as I walked into school I got lost somewhere in the bowels of the annex until somebody told me how to get to my homeroom.
Homeschooling had worked well for me. There was no chalkboard I had to see because my classes were online. It didn’t matter that I took twice as long to read as other people because deadlines were more flexible. I also have a severe case of ADD that makes getting schoolwork done a challenge. I have spent entire days trying to complete one assignment and barely getting anything done because my mind refuses to tune in on the task. Though it was frustrating, I was able to work with it because, again, deadlines were more flexible.
When I moved to Warrenton, however, I wanted to get plugged in with a new community right away, so I decided to go to FHS. The school made a lot of accommodations for me, and I harbor much gratitude to the staff of FCPS for making everything work for me. One way the school helped me was to get me an iPad. This has allowed me to take pictures of the board and zoom in the photo to see what the teacher is writing. It allows me to get powerpoints, worksheets, books, and textbooks on my device where I can make the text in a font size I can see. I do most of my homework on my iPad and turn it in through Dropbox. Without this technology, school would be 10 times more difficult. Thanks Apple.
The public school system also provides amazing services because of my disability. The vision specialist for the county, Bethany Martin, has helped me be successful with a visual impairment in other aspects of my life, like learning how to cross streets, though I can’t see the walk sign, how to navigate stores and office buildings, and how to overcome many other obstacles that arise. She also put me in touch with a girl from Kettle Run who has the same eye condition as I do. This was the first time I had ever met someone my age with vision like mine. I am proud that the school system provides these kinds of services.
There were still some complications. In the cafeteria I can’t see where anybody is, so once I get my food, I have no idea where to sit. But eventually I found a good place. Many people say hi to me in the hallway, and I have no idea who they are because I can’t see their face. I just say hi back because it takes too much time to ask who it is every time. Occasionally I have made embarrassing mistakes such as sitting in someone else’s seat in class without realizing it, running into people, or calling people another name because I think they are somebody else. I used to get embarrassed, but I’ve learned that nobody really cares. I can just laugh it off now.
My ADD has not been as great an issue as I expected. The school gives me extended time to work on homework, projects, and tests because of my vision. I have taken advantage of this extra time because of my ADD, even more than because of my vision. I’ve also found that learning in a classroom is a more productive learning environment than doing schoolwork in my bedroom by myself. In the classroom there are people to keep me engaged, whereas in my bedroom there is nothing to stop my mind from wandering.
My favorite experience at FHS has been writing for The Falconer. Though it was work, it got me involved in a fun community right away that I certainly wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, especially because I can’t play sports. During third block every day, I met all kinds of cool people when I went on interviews, and some of my favorite memories at FHS were staying hours after school to work on the newspaper.
One of the lessons I have learned since being at FHS is not to judge people. I was disappointed at how people constantly gossiped about other people behind their backs, and I hate the labels people use for other people, such as ratchet, basic, and especially the term patio kid. Coming from the urban, hipster culture in San Francisco to suburban Virginia, I realized that I was judgmental, as well. I would judge people for reasons as foolish as their taste in music or the way they dress. There were many people that I judged at first, but when I heard about their home life or background, it completely explained why they act the way they do. I learned that the people who aren’t the popular kids are often the ones that will be the best friends. Once I accepted and enjoyed people for who they are, and I stopped caring as much about other people’s perceptions of me, I enjoyed high school a lot more.
My high school experience has been very unconventional, but overall, it was definitely a good choice to come here. I met some amazing people, learned a lot about life, and I feel much more prepared for the future. I want to thank God who organized every detail of my high school career and who got me through the hard times and the good times. I want to thank my mom who put in countless hours to teach me until I came to FHS. I want to thank my teachers for working with me and making other accommodations for me, and I want to thank the students of FHS for your friendships and support. I could not have made it without you.