On Wednesday January 19 in the early morning, the students of Cascades Montessori Middle School loaded down with bags, camping pads, and sleeping bags, climbed into a fat, unwieldily bus to be driven by Mike, and a small, white van to be driven by Elise.
We where setting off on an overnight adventure to Seattle, and everyone boarded the vehicles with smiles, and some butterflies in our stomachs, for, along the way, we where to visit Lakeside Middle School, where tuition is $25,250 a year, and the entire 7th grade holds a whopping 80 students. Compared to our school, Lakeside seemed pretty darn different!
All the same, we made our way down the freeway, signing and dancing to Pop Music, and discussing all matter of “teenage girl things”, much to the annoyance of the five boys huddled in the back of the bus who were trying their best to ignore us.
We got to Lakeside in a flash, and, armed with notebook and pencil, timidly climbed out of the bus and onto the fancy Lakeside campus, and after a brief introduction from their own security guard and on of the teachers there, we headed inside where we were each paired with a seventh grade buddy.
Our buddies were to show us around the school, and take us along with them to each class in their day, so we could experience a different school, and way of learning. Along the way, I also met many kids and teachers, who all immediately welcomed me, though were very surprised when I told them that our entire school was made up of about 21 students, and that we where staying the night on their gym floor of all places!
Our first stop was, of course the cafeteria, and since we hadn’t eaten since the early morning, the salad and falafel we were served tasted very good. We ate briefly, and then, after cleaning up our trays, headed out for a tour of the school from our buddies.
As we cruised the halls, my buddy introduced pretty much every person we saw to me and even took me to the gym and pointed out every trophy the students of Lakeside had won, and explained to me about the sports offered such as Track and Field, Basketball, Lacrosse, and a few others I cannot quite remember. Also, from what he told me about the language classes like Chinese, Spanish, and Latin, it seems like most students at Lakeside are fluent in one if not two of the prior. Yet another thing my buddy informed me of during my tour, was that each student has his/her own laptop, and all homework must be emailed in.
After our tour was done, and the lunch bell had rung, we all headed off to orchestra, where I got the rare chance of picking up an extra cello, and sight-reading the music that was set in front of me, and playing with the Lakeside Orchestra. It amazed me how dedicated the students were, how they paid attention to each little note, and how critical the teacher seemed. I was even further surprised when my buddy informed me that Lakeside has a lot of competition in Oregon.
Our next class was Social Studies, where we learned about the Electoral College, and the three branches of government. In this class, I noticed every student focussed, taking notes as they were asked, and asking very valid questions, as the teacher used a chalkboard, and a color coded map of the United States, showing what political party each state chose in different elections, to explain.
Next was Biology, where we continued an experiment where a peeled, raw chicken egg was immersed in corn syrup for a couple days, taken out and weighed, and then immersed in another solution made up of water and mouthwash. In this class, I was also introduced to the daughter of the owner of the Space Needle.
My last class of the day was math, and my brain was already hurting after the first fifteen minutes because of the exercise the students do at the beginning of the period called Mental Math. In this exercise, students are given several problems verbally, and have to solve them in their heads as fast and efficient as possible. The rest of the period was spent returning assignments and copying down the current homework.
When the bell rang, signaling the end of the day, all of the students of Cascades Montessori Middle School grouped up by the door for a group photo, and discussed our experiences, receiving almost all positive feedback.
Overall, I am so glad that I was able to visit Lakeside, and, if given the chance, i would definitely return.
My experience just shows me that we can have many stereotypes in our heads, but in the end, things usually don’t turn out the way we think they will, and most of those stereotypes end up being false.
I believe we should try to avoid judging people we haven’t even met.