8 February 2009

A Quest for Knowledge

If I were to be completely honest, I would have to say that I love school. I have always loved school. Some of the most important things in my life—friends, books, and new ideas—have stemmed from school. There, I have continuously been able to learn about and explore a whole wide world that I would otherwise know nothing about. I will be on a perpetual quest for knowledge.

By the time I arrived in Kindergarten, I was ready for anything. I don't remember much from that first day except for getting on and off of that large yellow bus, and a boy, whose name was Asher, ate glue. After that day, I have many memories. My teacher was and still is what any sane person would call a 'devil-woman.' She was mean, loud, demanding, and obsessive about where each of us sat on our colored carpet squares. Since that time, my mother has said numerous times that my teacher was horrific. She also said that the only reason I wasn't moved into the other class was because I didn't need to learn all of the regular Kindergarten things, such as colors, letters and numbers. I was there to learn how to get along with others, something that I still have trouble with today.

Despite the obvious drawbacks of having an awful teacher, I was a happy child. I had many friends and playmates. I also enjoyed the chance to finger-paint everyday. Some of my favorite memories from that school year were when we joined with the other Kindergarten class and had stories read to us by the other teacher, who, in contrast to my own, was kind and understanding. There were so many great books back then: Rainbow Fish, Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and many others that I can't seem to remember. Sometimes I read these books in order to return to the times that were so much simpler.

After Kindergarten, I was less than excited to go to first grade. I thought it would be even worse and my teacher would be even more 'angry' than the last. As it turned out, I was utterly wrong. Mrs. Otto was one of those teachers that students remember fondly for the rest of their lives. She had an abiding love of penguins, and somehow found a way to work them into every lesson. By the end of the year, some of my peers were sick of penguins and never wanted to hear about penguins again. I was not among this group. I was curious to learn more.

In many ways, first grade was the truly pivotal point in shaping who I am today. It was then that I learned to love reading, hate math, and many other significant things. But above all, this was when I formed a lasting friendship. To this day, Heather Wrobleski remains one of my very best friends.

Everywhere I go, both in school and out, a common theme persists. Nobody can pronounce my last name correctly. Some pick it up quickly, but most end up stumbling over it for years. I don't think it's that hard. "Vicich. It rhymes with itchy." That's exactly what I tell people when they ask. It has become such a regular occurrence that those words are oddly comforting.

I am proud of many things in my life, but none more than my back-to-back "superior" ratings at the Illinois State History Expo. In both seventh and eighth grade, I worked for months in order to prepare for the school history fair, upgrade for the regional history fair at Northern Illinois University, and then put on the finishing touches for state, which took place in Springfield. It paid off in the end, and I'm glad that I didn't believe Mr. Nesti when he said, "That day ain't ever gonna come." I had always liked history, but it was at then that I learned I could do something concrete and productive with the otherwise useless facts and information that constantly to filled my head. In my moment to shine, the newspaper featured a picture of the history fair winners. The caption had my name spelled incorrectly.

My eighth grade graduation was, at best, a bittersweet affair. I had loved junior high, and I wasn't eager to leave. I knew I would miss all of my old teachers, the secretary, and even my principal. What made it worse was that I was that I recognized things were changing, but I wasn't sure how. At that point, I still had no idea where I was going to high school. My brothers were strong supporters of my going to St. Bede, the school from which both had graduated. They were incredibly worried about would happen to their 'baby sister' if she were to attend the 'big, bad public high school.' Needless to say, I ignored them, and despite their concerns, everything has turned out to be more than okay. They still aren't thrilled with my decision. It just goes to show that even though both are extremely intelligent and highly educated, they don't know quite everything. This serves to remind me that in the next few years, I will be moving away and going to college, embarking upon the next stretch in my educational journey. There I will be striving for even more knowledge through my experiences. After that, it will be up me to go out into the world, like my brothers did before me. But also, like them, I might not know quite everything, and that's what scares me.