If . . .
Everyone Knew Your Name
Everything makes sense
when you’re speaking the
international language of
It was passing period on Monday morning, the first day of
school, and the halls were congested with students slamming
lockers, slapping high fives and snapping bra straps.
Haley followed Annie Armstrong, clutching her books and
fending off a pair of rowdy linebackers playing a game of
touch freshman. Basically this game involved one of the boys
tossing a football at an unsuspecting freshman girl while
the other made like he was going in for a catch but instead
reached for the girl’s breasts.
“I like to think of Hillsdale High as a sort of training
ground for real life,” Annie said to Haley while ducking
out of the path of the ball. “Sure there are obstacles
to overcome, but whatever your major field of interest, you
can explore it here.”
Annie had volunteered to be a part of the welcome program
that helped new students acclimate to Hillsdale High. Haley
had been assigned to Annie because they had similar class
schedules—all honors except for Spanish, which was a
third language for both of them. Annie, Haley discovered,
had also studied French in junior high.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Annie said with
pride, as Haley noticed a long glass case filled with trophies
and rows of photographs. “For a public school, we do
more than all right. In fact, we have everything,” she
added, beaming. “A debate team, a fencing squad, archery,
Spanish club, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, lacrosse.
We have skiing—downhill, cross-country and water. Band.
There’s golf, dramaturgy, Francophiles, Model UN, student
council, badminton, tennis. We have Young Scientists and math
Olympics, home economics and Econ Ten. Horseback riding, chess,
Young Philanthropists and ballet.”
Haley’s head was spinning. She began to worry that
she didn’t have enough extracurricular activities on
her résumé. In just a few years, she would be
competing for college placement with girls like Annie, who
could probably build the world in five days, as opposed to
“And last, but certainly not least,” Annie sighed,
“we have . . .” She paused and looked around to
make sure no one else was listening, then in a reverent whisper
“What’s Sigma?” Haley asked, without bothering
to keep her voice down. Several girls craned their necks to
get a look at her.
Annie laughed nervously, shrugged and announced, “She’s
new here,” before grabbing Haley by the arm and pulling
her around the corner. “Boy, do you have a lot to learn,”
she said, shaking her head disapprovingly and bumping into
a girl fiddling with the combination on her locker.
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