And so it was that in September of 1996, I left my awful French middle school behind and started high school at Black Forest Academy. BFA is in the small town of Kandern, Germany:
BFA had many dorms situated in the villages surrounding the school. But my ninth grade year, I was a "home student" since the dorms were full: I lived with a family in town whose children were also students at the school.
They were a Dutch family who spoke English flawlessly (although they did revert to Dutch when arguing, haha!) - they were very nice and took really good care of me. I had a roommate whom they were also housing; her name was Rachel and she was a year older than me. Here we are all dolled up for the Christmas banquet.
(I'm the awkward one on the left...)
When I was in 8th grade, I thought BFA would be like a real American high school - And I was pretty sure that what I saw on Saved by the Bell was typical of American high schools everywhere. (Ahem.... pardon my ignorance!)
Although it was nothing like Bayside High school, BFA was (and still is!) a tight-knit little community. It was a small school back then - only 30 students in my freshman class (although by 12th grade, we had grown to 75!)
We had our own traditions: like "creeking" someone on their birthday by throwing them in the shallow creek. We had a Friday Night Activity planned for us every week - sometimes it was a school-wide scavenger hunt, or a movie in the auditorium, or a dorm vs. dorm competition of some kind.
When I look back at my diary that year, it was all about who was friends with who, who wasn't friends anymore, and who was crushing on who. In this respect I imagine my 9th grade experience was like many of my American peers (correct me if I'm wrong?!) However, there were no diary references to kissing, sex, drinking, or drugs, because we had VERY strict rules; even hand holding and dancing was forbidden!
And here's how it was different than American high schools:
- The teachers often ate dinner with us in the dorms.
- The students did chores to keep the school clean since we had no custodial staff.
- We had to figure out how to buy school supplies in town without knowing any German.
- Private conversations among friends would often be in other languages.
- All the girls borrowed each others' clothes.
- Senior Skip Day was planned and chaperoned by our teachers (boo!)
-We had Monday morning matins and Friday chapel every week.
- We went on field trips to see the Roman ruins, the WW1 trenches, and a WW2 concentration camp.
- We went on class trips to Dijon (France), to the beaches of Normandy, and we took a senior class trip to Rome for a week.
- We took dorm retreats to the Swiss Alps.
And as fun and cool as all of that stuff was, do you know what the BEST PART was about BFA? Being surrounded by hundreds of kids just like me, who knew what it felt like to be a Missionary Kid. It meant an instant connection and forged the way for long-lasting, deep friendships to happen overnight.
It was my paradise.
What about you? Do you have fond memories of high school?