School year starts pretty well
What Alexandre had predicted about himself had indeed occurred but instead of happening the next morning it was almost a week later, as classes started once again after a long and hot summer break. He had left the sheets of paper lying around on his wooden desk, planning to turn them into a notebook later, as he rushing to get prepared for his first day of school, trying not to be late.
“Have a nice day dad, see you tonight!” He exclaimed as he put down his bowl of cereals in the sink before grabbing his bag and running outside, shutting the front door behind him and jumping over the stairs of the porch.
“Mmmhmm…” Replied the forty years old man, still half asleep as he sat in front of his plate of honey-covered pancakes, as his son had already crossed the street and rushed past the bus stop. David Parson, Alexandre’s father, was an IT consultant and worked mostly for local companies that needed his expertise. That meant his meetings could take place at any hour of the day or night, which explained the fact that he was very rarely synchronized with his son’s schedule. Some times he went a whole day or two with barely any sleep as he had to respond to different emergencies or client demands in a row. He had been raising Alexandre alone since he and his wife had divorced a few years back and, from what the young man said, he was doing a great job doing it despite his job. Alexandre couldn’t say that he didn’t miss his mother, he did, sometimes a lot, but he had learned to live without her presence in the house over the time. David raised his hand and directed a small sign to his son whom was already long gone before resuming his contemplation of the liquid honey on his pancakes that was slowly dripping onto the plate. Alexandre was already halfway to the school when he noticed his best friend coming from a nearby street on his bike.
“Ha! Might you be late my dear sir?!” Exclaimed Bryan with a mocking smile as he caught up with his friend.
“Talk about yourself man!” Replied the brown-haired teen to his dark-haired companion. “You’re not much more early than I am I see…” Bryan seemed to take a moment to think before replying.
“True, but I am on a bike my friend!” He said before speeding up and leaving Alexandre running alone along the sidewalk.
“Hey!” He shouted as he saw his best friend getting farther away. He accelerated into a full sprint, praying to the gods to be able to make it in time and to compensate for the time he had lost day dreaming earlier. After almost five minutes of running he finally arrived in front of the school gates and was reassured to find out he wasn’t the last person to arrive. He noticed his best friend standing near the bike garage, smirking, and walked towards him as he breathed deeply to get some oxygen back in his body.
“Not too tired I hope…?” Asked the brunette, his smirk getting bigger as he saw his friend’s difficulty to breathe.
“I…hate…you!” Replied Alexandre between each deep breath. His best friend laughed and had to step aside to evade the punch the brown-haired teenager threw at him before going off towards the main building without waiting.
“You missed!” he exclaimed as he walked away from Alexandre as the teenager was still trying to catch his breath. “You still have much to learn young one if you hope to hit me one day…”
“One day I will get you, and that day you will beg for mercy.” He threatened as he still struggled to catch his breath. He then proceeded to follow his friend into the large brick building, they climbed the two flights of stairs leading them to their classroom and noticed they weren’t late as there were a dozen of students waiting by the door and discussing their respective holidays.
“No need to rush, the teacher’s still no here.” Explained Jasmine, a tall brunette from Oceania with a slightly darker complexion than Bryan, as she turned towards them. She was already their classmate the year before and even though they had never been very close the two boys greeted her with a smile before thanking her for the info.
“By the way…” She added. “Apparently he’s a cool teacher, or at least that’s what Simon told me…”
“Nice!” Exclaimed Bryan as he leaned against the wall a few meters away from the door.
Simon was Jasmine’s older brother, he had already graduated two years before from the same school and was now studying at the Oural University of Sacrajevo, a few hundred kilometers north of Echo Valley. The two teenagers exchanged a few polite words with Jasmine about her vacations, learning that she had gone to visit her brother and apparently he was about to get engaged during the next summer. The young woman than spotted a blond girl who Alexandre recalled as being called Claire, coming from the stairs and walked over to her, dismissing herself as she left.
“So, how was your last week-end of freedom?” Asked Bryan as he looked at his friend.
“Not so bad, I’ve had time to test Conquest Paradisia Saturday and yesterday. It’s a really good game in solo, I’m loving the campaigns so far and I heard it’s even better when you get to play online so I’m really excited for you to join me!” Exclaimed Alexandre.
“Yeah I know, but I need to think about it a bit before I decide to take it or not…” Replied the dark-haired teen.
“Hey, I gave you the whole summer to think about that, you should already be playing with me right now!” Alexandre accused his friend before sighing lightly. “Anyways, I also went to that party at the docks Saturday, it wasn’t bad…”
“What do you mean it wasn’t bad?!” Exclaimed Bryan. “Come on, give explain!”
“Well, I sort of met that girl there…” Alexandre looked at his friend with small mocking smile.
“What?! Come on man, tell me about it! Don’t make me ask!” Exclaimed the tanned teenager as he noticed his friend was stalling on purpose.
“Okay, okay. I met a cute blonde there, she was funny and apparently very interested I what I had to say. We talked the whole evening about things and others. She even gave me her number and told me she’d be happy to see me again. Apart from that it went well but I’ve seen better…”
“Dude…” Replied Bryan with an indignant expression. “You’ve “seen better”? Man, you went to a great party and met a cute girl who’s apparently into you, you spent great time with her and you still find room to complain? I can’t believe you…” He paused with a falsely pissed off sigh.
“You do know I had to spend the whole week-end helping my parents to set the dojo up for the new year? So try to be, at least in front of me, more happy about it!” He then added.
“Okay, okay. I’ll try to be happy about it, for you my friend.” Replied Alexandre with a wide smile as he put his hand on his best friend’s shoulder.
“You better do that yeah.” Bryan said with a scowl. “So, what’s her name?” He the asked, brushing the hand off of his shoulder nonchalantly.
“Chloe, she’s a first year at Sevanne High apparently. I’m thinking of asking her to a movie or something soon.”
“Good idea, but please, try to be a bit more ingenious than that. Movies are not as romantic as you think… Plus the weather will surely be good so you might want to take advantage of that.” Said Bryan as he straightened up. “Oh, here’s our teacher I think.”
He pointed towards the other end of the corridor with his head. Alexandre turned around in the direction his friend was looking and noticed a man in his fifties, tall and with graying hair, coming their way. He was wearing a black leather jacket and whistled, playing with his set of keys at the same time, as he walked towards them. A large bag was hanging on his left shoulder.
“Hello everyone!” He greeted the students with a smile as he made his way to the door. “My name is Dorian Rochen, I’ll be your history and geography teacher this year, you can call me Mr. Rochen, I don’t really appreciate over-informality.” He entered the classroom and immediately went towards his desk and put down his bag beside it.
“Go on, you can get settled. I’ll leave you the choice of the spots you want but be quick or else I’ll choose for you. He added with a wave of the hand towards the rest of the room. He then turned towards his bag and opened the top pocket to take out his stuff.
The students still in the hallway hurried in the room that would become their classroom for the rest of the year to get the best spots available. Alexandre and Bryan were lucky enough not to have arrived too late and were in the first part of the group to enter, they chose their usual spot : the tables between the ones in the middle and those in the corner on the far right side of the room. They knew that the teachers tended to focus more on the closest and farthest spots as well as the extremities so they had developed the TSET. The teacher’s sight evasion technique. This method theoretically allowed them to be as unnoticeable as possible if they chose the table in-between those hot spots and so far it had worked quite well. One had of course to be careful not to be too noisy or distracted during class, but if all went well it allowed them to pass unnoticed from the teacher almost all the time. Alexandre had chosen the spot on the fifth column (out of six) and the third line (out of four), Bryan had chosen the table on his immediate left. Once the other students had settled down only two tables remained vacant, the one behind Jasmine, the second table of the column on the left side of the room, and the one in the top right corner. That meant that they were only twenty-two in their group.
“Has everyone settled down? Good.” Said the history teacher as he took a pen and started writing on the board. “Let’s start then. As I said earlier I’m Mr. Rochen and I will be your teacher in history and geography, I teach to the first and third years. If you do well, which I am sure you will, we should therefore meet again two years from now. During this first hour with you I’ll talk about how this year is going to play out, I’ll give you your timetables for the first trimester and the program of this class. Then we’ll see if you have any questions and I’ll answer them. But first we will start by the usual roll call, please reply when I call your name.” The man in his fifties took out a file containing the groups photos of all the groups he taught and searched for the 1-B.
“I’ll call you in alphabetical order by surnames, tell me if you are here and if I pronounced it correctly. Also try to remember who you are after, it might be useful in some classes. So, Misha Abben?” He started.
A young man with short but curled blonde hair sitting on the second row slowly raised his arm.
“Here. And your pronouncing it correctly.” He replied before lowering his arm and getting back to taking out his stuff. Dorian Rochen then proceeded to call the rest of the students in the room, each one raising a hand to signal their presence and only a few correcting him on his pronunciation. Alexandre and Bryan were part of the last names to be called out as they were respectively a P and a V. Only one person seemed to be missing, Misha’s brother Karl who was apparently too sick to come in that day.
“Okay, I’m writing down that he’s absent. You’ll have to tell him to come in with a justification as soon as he gets back alright?” Misha replied by simply nodding at the teacher. The history and geography teacher then put his file in his bag and took off his leather jacket, he then walked in front of his desk and sat on it, facing his students.
“So, now we can start.” He paused. “Some of you were perhaps already here in the past years, but today you are all entering as high school students and this is a whole different experience. Don’t worry though, if you are a bit lost during these first few days it is normal and we are here to help you. If you would please take out the notebooks that have been given to you after your enrollment, there are a few details I have to explain to you.” The students who hadn’t already taken it out then proceeded to do so.
“Alright.” Started the teacher again when a phone vibrated loudly in the room. “Ah, yes, the mobile phones… This is the first and the last time that I will say this : each and every mobile phone must be in discreet mode, if not turned off completely, and stored inside your bags during class. Anyone who disobeys this simple rule will find his phone confiscated for a variable duration. Go on miss Cruz, you can turn it off and put it in your bag.” He added with a polite smile as he looked at a girl with short reddish hair in the back of the classroom who’s cheeks reddened at his comment.
“As I was saying,” He started again as she straightened up in her seat again. “your notebook will be extremely important during your year here, it will not only allow us teachers to communicate with your parents but for us and them to check your work load and your possible lateness and absences. But do not worry, it is not just a tool that will be used to control you, it will help you get more familiar with the buildings and the teachers’ names as well as with your timetables which you will be able to fill at the end. If ever you need to contact any of the staff for an emergency remember to look through the last two pages, the important information is regrouped there.”
Alexandre turned the pages as Mr. Rochen described their content and noticed it was very similar to the notebook he had received during the last years of secondary school. He indeed saw the school map and the contact information of the staff of the school. There also was a page to fill with his own information in case of an emergency, which he started filling up as he listened to the explanations of the man with graying hair.
“What do you think we have after this?” Asked Bryan in a whisper as he too was completing the same section.
“No idea…” Replied the brown haired teen. “I just hope its not sport, I really don’t want to run this early in the morning…”
“Wait, we could have math or even worse, English, and you are worried about doing some exercise?!” Silently exclaimed the dark haired teen. “Man, you are always full of surprises…” He added with a small mocking laugh before focusing again on the teacher who was no giving them the contents of their timetable. Alexandre simply shrugged as an answer, he really didn’t enjoy doing sport when he was tired and the previous night he had not gotten enough sleep. He didn’t have much problem staying awake but exercise would surely kill him for the rest of the day. He looked at the board and was relieved to find out that sport was on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the end of the day. His moral was even raised a bit when he noticed that just after the two hours of history and geography of the Monday mornings they had foreign language. He had started learning Japanese since his first year of secondary school and really appreciated the lessons. After that single hour they were apparently free until the afternoon classes, which gave them a good two hours and a half to eat. Nice! He thought, I won’t have to hurry on Mondays!
The teacher then gave them a few minutes to write down and study their timetables before carrying on with the program of his own class for the year.
“Good, now, time to get serious. We still have about an hour and twenty minutes together, that gives me plenty of time to talk explain the program this year, but don’t worry, I’ll try to be quick so as to give you time to ask questions afterward.” He took out a pile of paper from his bag and distributed them to each student before sitting back on his desk. “Here is a summary of the program of what we will study this year and a small link with what you will see next year. Don’t worry, we’ll have time to see everything, I make sure of that each year. Turn to page 3, today we’ll see what we’re going to talk about this trimester, I’ll let you read the rest at home.”
During the next half hour he gave them a detailed explanation of the themes they were going to study and the way they were going to study them with the help of diagrams drawn on the board. From the start of the 19th century up to the middle of the 20th, the program regrouped the most important moments on a global scale. He also explained what the links would be between the history lessons and the geography parts of the class, which would then give way to a geopolitical analysis of the world today.
“This trimester thought we will start by focusing on the start of the 19th century, I’ll ask you to bring your history books for the next few weeks if you please. I’ll give you a heads up when we switch to geography. Now, that’s all for the moment, any questions?” He asked, rubbing his hands as he looked around at the whole group. Rebecca Cruz, the red-haired girl who was reprimanded earlier for her not turning off her phone, was the first one to raise her hand.
“Yes, miss Cruz?”
“About the books, I wanted to know if we have to buy them or if some will be distributed to us?”
“They will be distributed to you this afternoon, I believe it was specified in your registration form. You will be summoned to the main hall of the building after lunch. Anything else?” He asked, a small smile spreading on his face. Alexandre saw his friend raise his hand.
“Yes mister Vogt?” Inquired the teacher.
“Uhm, I wanted to know how we should do for lunch today?”
“Ah yes, good question! Thank you for reminding me!” Exclaimed the man in his fifties.
Alexandre couldn’t help but smile at his friend’s question, of course it would be about food. The teacher took out another pile of paper from his bag and distributing it.
“Here is a document that you must complete and return as soon as possible to the secretary’s office to inform us if you decide to eat here regularly or not. We need that information to prepare the food in consequence. Now, as for the payment, you will be awarded badges this afternoon, with your books, but lunch today is already covered by the school. It will be debited from your cards when you put money on them. You will have to fill out a paper though, to inform us that you have indeed been eating here today on your way to the cafeteria. For those who don’t eat here, then the problem is much smaller, will just have to come in the school before the gate closes this afternoon as your cards also act as badges that allow access to the school grounds. So you better not lose it.” He looked at his watch, they still had a good half hour. “Anything else?”
Alexandre counted another half a dozen questions more or less useful before letting his mid wander off, he thought about the ways he planned to continue the story of Conquest Paradisia. After the ambush of the previous day during his daily mission he would have to make several changes. He only realized the bell had rung when his classmates started to get up and exit the room. He grabbed his bag just before Bryan succeeded in stealing it and running of with it.
“No touching!” He exclaimed as he followed his smiling friend out of the room. They wished a good day to the teacher before turning right and following the hallway towards the stairs. Their classroom was in the most recent building of the school, it had been built on a similar model as the others, a modern 70s appearance, in order not to clash too much with the style of the establishment. It had been furnished with modern rooms and equipment. This renovation was soon followed by the other building’s, they were all well in the process of being modernized. But it had been necessary to build another wing to the high school as it had a growing number of new students over the last few years. The Bartholomée Santana Highschool had opened on the 3rd September 1971, it had been named after the only American woman to have even passed more than a hundred decrees at the parliament in the course of her five mandates. Originally it was composed of two buildings disposed in an L but a third and a fourth one had been added soon after its construction, turning its shape into an O. Now, with the fifth building coming to close the shape the high school formed an O with a bar on the bottom. Renovation was now in its final steps and according to the mayor’s speech at the beginning of the summer it should be over by the beginning of the new calendar year. The two friends passed from the bar of the O to the O itself where the language laboratories were and where Alexandre was about to attend to his first Japanese class of the year while Bryan was awaited in the Spanish class.