Better Days

A descriptive essay for English lab class.


I was neither a stand out student nor one of those students who would fail or always get sanctioned in high school. Probably the only thing that really set me apart from the other ordinary students was that I was a member of the swimming team. I would be in school shortly before 7:30 a.m. everyday and by that time, most of the students would have already arrived in school and would have settled down already. Classical music would be playing through the PA and this would always be accompanied by the little voices of the little children running around the school grounds, getting themselves smelling as if lunch break had just ended even before the start of first period.

The cleanliness of the school was always noticeable and a very pleasant sight that greeted the students every morning. I would meet friends on the way to my classroom, exchanging high fives with each one. It would still be very early in the morning, thus there was no getting used to the burning sensation in my legs and thighs after going up four floors. As I would walk in the classroom, my classmates greeted me with either a high five or by shouting one of the many nicknames given to me in high school from across the room. As soon as I got to my seat, I would put down my bags, get settled for a bit, then put out a sandwich and eat while I either bothered those who were studying or asked them to teach me a thing or two. Sooner or later the bell would ring to signal the students to get settled and prepare for first period, go down for the flag ceremony (we called it morning assembly), or for some, to hide somewhere so as not to suffer under the heat of the sun during the flag ceremony. The morning assemblies were held every Monday and this was something we students never liked because for one thing we had to go down four floors to be in the scorching heat of the sun then go back up four floors again. Everyone would be sweaty by the time we got back to the classrooms but to me it was not so much the smell of each one, it was more the discomfort of the stickiness of the sweat that dried on my shirt.

The only part of the morning worth sharing in this essay is recess because morning classes were boring anyway. We sat through three subjects waiting for recess, then through two more waiting for lunchtime. During these boring classes, we would make fun of the teacher or any other teacher, play tic-tac-toe in our seats, do assignments for the next class, or simply sleep. Of course it was a very different story when teachers did not show up. During recess, the halls would be filled with students visiting their friends in other classrooms but most of the time, their purpose of going to other classrooms was to buy food from either my classmate who sold all sorts of junk food or from students from the other section who followed suit and started selling ice candy. The way the students moved around and shouted from the across the hall just to be heard made the fourth floor seem like a wet market, minus the stench of the meats and fish. In that ten-minute recess, our young entrepreneur batch mates would have their stock completely wiped out. This is about the time that the cleanliness of the classroom as I got in begins to deteriorate. Crumbs and wrappers of chocolate bars and potato chips were all over the place—literally—inside the tables, on the floor, and on the shelves. Probably every place possible except the trash can. Upon stepping on the floor, the soles of the shoes would get stuck momentarily because of the spilled ice candy that dried up on the marble flooring. On a side note, I personally liked that feeling.

After recess, there were two classes before lunch break, where the fun really began. As soon as the last teacher dismissed us for lunch, laptops were brought out to play Counter Strike, DotA, FIFA, or NBA Live. There was also another laptop that was hooked to the LCD projector for us to watch Gossip Girl, a TV series that was pretty popular at the time. Aside from the laptops, several decks of cards would also be brought out for pusoy dos, tong its, or poker—complete with chips but without involving money. What was originally a classroom, a space for learning, was now a computer shop, movie theatre, and casino. Upon entering the room, the violent reactions of the losers and the trash talking between players was very audible and sometimes it sounded so harsh that it made me cringe when I would hear it. When on the laptop, players always felt the pressure of winning because their peers were there watching therefore they did not want to get teased and at the same time, they did not want to get replaced by the ones waiting in line.

One thing I will never forget in high school is my sideline job during lunch break. In Southridge, taking food out of the cafeteria was disallowed in an attempt to minimize the litter. Fortunately for me, I had a lunch box. I would take out all the contents of my lunch box and buy food for my classmates. I charged 20 pesos for my regular customers on the first trip and as much as 50 to 100 pesos on succeeding trips, especially if I did not want to go down anymore. It was also convenient for them because the canteen would always be packed with people during lunchtime. There would be long lines, it would be hot, and you could smell the food being cooked, mixed with the sweat of the people around. The one-hour lunch break never seemed like a full hour. It was either too short or seemed very long as we were either watching the show, playing video games, or playing cards. However, all fun comes to an end at some point and for us, it was as soon as the teacher entered the classroom for the first class of the afternoon. Seats would still be empty as students still made their way back from the canteen or from other classrooms, and the hangover from lunch break was evident as the class would still be “hyper” going into the class. Now that I think of it, it was pretty useful because it woke us up at the time we were used to devoting to siesta. But eventually, the hangover got really bad. Lucky for us, our teacher was cool with us playing on the laptop or playing cards. When he got in the classroom, he would tell us to put the laptops and the cards away but it got to a point where we would reply “sir, last game”.

Leaving was very different from arriving in school. Though I passed the same way, the same halls and the same stairs, it was still very different. For one thing, it was not hot anymore because the sun began to set and it got windy already. The classical music was turned off but hearing the little voices of the little children always got me wondering what they were on. They were like wind up toys that never stop. The driveway would be filled with cars and the traffic within the school would get really brutal. Luckily, our driveway was not much of a driveway. It was just a small road for cars to really just come in, pick up the students and leave. Sometimes I would have to wait long, and sometimes our car would have to wait long for me but as soon as I got there, we left and headed for training.

Grade school was the good days, but we do not really remember much about it. High school is different. It is better than grade school and it is true that the friends you make here are the friends you will keep forever. However, as stated earlier, all good things must come to an end. But only because we move on to arguably the best days of our lives, our college lives.


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