14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com FORUM OPINION Day in the Life Reflections on high school, from highs to lows to moments of existential dread. By Veronica Dorantes-Pulido and Danna Ramirez No Space for Commas By Veronica Dorantes-Pulido Wake up at 2am, hoping I said the right thing in class. Fall back asleep. Make breakfast. Listen to news podcast. Wake daughter up in a rush. Make sure to say, “I love you!” Drive to school with caffeine. Bathroom break before school. Good morning! Is it good? Conduct class. I hope they learned something. Did I teach it the right way? Students laugh; sense of relief. Please put away your phones. Will this be my death chamber? Where is the nearest exit? Grade between assignments. Wait. Was this written with ChatGPT? Full class at lunch. Interrupted lunch: “How are you, Ms. Pulido?” Have school club meetings. Student vents. Shoulder drenched with tears. Tight hugs. “You are safe.” Teach class again. Power through the afternoon. Always be on. Be a beacon. Be present. They need me. I need them. Wait—gas bill is due today. Theater class now. Muster up energy. Ugh another phone. Make it fun. Rolling laughter in the class. More laughter. Laugh until I cry. I hope they learned something. Attend I.E.P. meeting. “Do you have any food?” Give away my apple. Maternity leave in six months. No paid leave. Gotta pay for sub. Yes—school’s out! Rehearse with actors. Long day. Find lead replacement. Where is the switch on this board? Need another costume. Put it on the credit card. Must re-budget. Last one in the parking lot. Plan a lesson on the drive home. Husband says, “You care too much.” Therapist says, “You should be proud.” Stop for gas. Consider profession. I feel I am not enough. Mom guilt. Wife guilt. Teacher salary. “Why do you work too late?” “Thank you for helping me.” Two constant minds. No answers. Face traffic. Didn’t die today. Sun setting early. I don’t know what’s for dinner. Capture of Moments By Danna Ramirez There are bittersweet moments that make you so grateful for your youth. Moments like when you have to make the choice of which seat you’ll take on the bus on a beautifully lit afternoon, or which hallway you’ll take to your chemistry class. Moments that show you the connections you’ll deem worth it and continue to work on, and moments that contribute to the person you choose to become. Ever since I started noticing the simple things, I learned to find something to appreciate about high school even during the hardest of times. These are the moments that you will reminisce about later on in life when someone asks you, “What was high school like?” Moments where you’re experimenting with who you are and where you stand in the world. Moments of finding your interests, your voice, your people. Veronica Dorantes-Pulido teaches English and Theater Arts at Alisal High School in Salinas. Danna Ramirez is a junior at Alisal High School. These stories were first published as part of the New York Times Learning Network contest, featuring multimedia work of 25 educators and students. To read more about the contest, see story, p. 26. Be a beacon. Be present. They need me. I need them. ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play