One of the goals I made this summer was to visit my elementary school in Whittier after 10 years. I don’t know how the interest came about, but all of a sudden, I just wanted to hop into the car and drive to Whittier by myself. The entire course of this summer, I’ve been adding friends from Orange Grove Elementary School through facebook and catching up with them. It’s funny how a decade has passed and yet there’s still that closeness between us. That’s because the environment I grew up in back then was completely different from the one here in Diamond Bar. For example, while there was competition, it was friendly, and the emphasis of the city was family and friends rather than grades and prestige.
I know that I may be biased because when I resided there I was quite young. And yet, even being eight years old, I still noticed a lifestyle change when moving from Whittier to Diamond Bar. After the move, there were less smiles and more insults. There were less walks in the afternoon and causal chats with neighbors and more work and expectations. Believe it or not, I never heard or knew about a single curse word until I started 4th grade in Diamond Bar.
But don’t get me wrong. I have come to love Diamond Bar because although it didn’t have the openness that Whittier had, it contained a sheltered lifestyle. While some can debate whether this is a good or bad thing, I can say that Diamond Bar didn’t have many disappointments. I mean, I do lead a great life with great friends and wonderful people.
Just, the reason we left everything behind – the good job, the great house, the lovely neighborhood, was because of us. My parents wanted my sister and I to have the best education and they didn’t think that the current district would provide it. So we shifted to a district that produced academically-acclaimed schools.
But seeing what all my old friends have achieved and how wonderful their lifestyles are, it makes me wonder, was the move worth it? As I started driving on familiar streets, a pull from memory lane was already beginning. I walked down the steps to the front office, uncertain of how I’d find my old classrooms, etc. Before I came to Orange Grove today, I had checked up on its website and had found out that my third grade teacher had become principal. I just didn’t know if she would recognize me.
I signed in and a vaguely familiar secretary asked me what I needed. I told her directly that it had been 10 years since I attended the school but that I just wanted to visit. She asked me what my name was and when I told her she just looked at me and told me she remembered me. Apparently the principal heard, because she came out rushing to greet and hug me. Mrs. Gasporra, the best third grade teacher and now the principal. We talked a bit in her office before she asked me what other teachers I came to visit. Although my Kindergarten teacher and 2nd grade teacher had left, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Winans, was still there. Now, I had no idea whether Mrs. Winans would remember me, because honestly, I was a shy kid at the age of 6. And yet, I really wanted to tell her that I still had that little apple where we wrote what we wanted to be when we grew up, and tell her that I still wanted to be a pediatrician.
Luckily, when Mrs. Gasporra opened the door and told Mrs. Winans I was here, she said that she still remembered. Apparently, my class was a famous one for the people. She then told me about one of my old classmates. Apparently, not only did he graduate as valedictorian at Whittier High School, but he was accepted into Princeton. However, he declined the college because he wanted to play ice hockey in Canada for a year. And yet, Princeton dubbed him so valuable that they told him they were willing to wait a year for him.
Who would have known, that my 8 year old classmate who wanted to be an actor, would wind up to be an ice hockey god going to an ivy league school? Which gets me thinking again, was it worth the move? Obviously, from others’ successes, I could have done just as well educationally in Whittier, so why did I leave the environment I loved so much? It just goes to show that a certain aspect may not include the whole package. Regardless, the move occurred, and there’s no point in thinking about the past because I don’t have any regrets. However, it doesn’t stop me from having my nostalgic moments.