When the bell rang, the students rushed to the field. Just by the flag pole, our Music teacher stands. While we were waiting for the others, I looked around. I spotted three of my classmates wearing black shoes. Our teachers tell us to wear black shoes with our uniform and I would if I have black shoes. I looked down at my flip-flops and decided to dismiss such luxurious wish. I belong to the majority after all.
Once the music started to play, I put my right hand over my left breast. I meant to sing but I was mesmerized with the way that she moves her hands, matching the movement of the music. After the flag ceremony, we scrambled into our respective classrooms.
I sat down but not a couple of minutes late, our adviser’s voice boomed, “Cleaners! What are you waiting for?” I quickly stood up and told my classmate to come with me to fetch water. She stood up and followed me outside the classroom. I saw my other classmates sweeping the floor and the school grounds around our classroom, some were watering the plants, and some are dusting the windows off. We filled the drum with water after three trips.
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After half an hour, my adviser seems satisfied so she called everyone in. She asked our homeroom president to lead the prayer so we can start the class. After praying, she called our name out one by one for the checking of attendance. About a third of the class is absent. Our adviser tried asking us if we have any idea why many of our classmates are absent. No one answered but studying in a barrio, we know the reasons. Jay chose to take contractual construction work. Mica eloped with her boyfriend. Adrian, Francis, and Michael probably got themselves sick from drinking too much alcohol. Joan found out a few days ago that she’s pregnant.
Someone snored loudly just when our adviser is about to start her discussion of our lesson. The whole class erupted in laughter, waking up and surprising the culprit. It turns out to be Patrick. Ma’am did not scold him. She just laughed with the class. Most of our teachers in our morning classes are used to having one or two of my classmates sleeping in their classes. They are the ones who join the “basnig”, a big boat with a group of fishermen leaving late in the afternoon to fish and returning early in the morning.
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Ma’am says that we will read a story. I craned my neck to see. She has a laptop but we do not have a projector so she just asks some volunteers to read the content of each slide loudly. We read a story entitled “A Day in the Country” by somebody named Anton. Ma’am showed us his picture. I remember his face but not his last name. I like the story except for the characters’ names that I cannot pronounce correctly.
We were 49 in our batch. We lose one or two every year because they transfer schools. We lose at least one per year because of retention to the grade level. Now that we are in high school we also lose at least one or two of our classmates every year because they decided to work instead. On my way home, I prayed that I would be able to finish high school right after praying for something delicious for dinner.