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Rise and Shine: The Dangers of Early-Morning School

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She’d had the sun in her eyes. That’s what she said. It was the reason that her car had hit me while I was crossing the parking lot. I’d always said it was a bad idea to have school so early in the morning. I had no idea how right I was.

I was in my senior year of high school when it happened. Having fallen prey to a nasty case of senioritis, I woke up particularly late one morning, which was becoming a daily occurrence since I was graduating in a few short months. Since school started at 7:50am, I would be late if I did not leave my house by 7:20am. This morning, I woke up at half-past seven.

Since I was already late for school, I contemplated staying in bed all day. Finally, deciding against it, I peeled myself off the mattress. I threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and barely managed to brush my teeth as I rushed out the door and to my car.

I figured this day would be just like any other: boring and completely ordinary. I’d begin with my Wardrobe Planning and Construction class, which sounds fancy but was just like Home-Ec, without the cooking. I would continue to my theatre and math classes, then would be off to lunch with my best friend, Lara. I would finish the day with a computer class and French and make it home just in time for re-runs of Full House. After a round of homework, I would go to bed and start the process again the next morning. Little did I know the day would not turn out exactly as I had foreseen.

I approached the parking lot of the school. Why’d it have to be so darn sunny, I wondered. The sun was just coming off the horizon and I put down my visor in order to see.

Since our school was so big, not to mention wealthy, there were a bunch of cars, leaving few parking spaces for those that showed up late. Sighing, I parked about a half-mile away and begun my trudge toward class, knowing I was going to be late. I was not looking forward to this. It was my third tardy this month, which meant after-school detention. Great.

I walked quickly, using my hand to shield my eyes from the sun’s rays. I just hoped my teacher would be merciful. I was just crossing one of the roads that cut through the parking lot when I felt something from behind violently knock me over. Before I knew it, I was on the ground and a girl was hopping out of her car and running toward me.

“Are you okay?” she shrieked.

Oddly enough, I felt fine. However, a surge of panic rushed through me as I realized that the lack of pain might be a result of paralysis. Quickly, I began moving every body part just to make sure.

“Stop moving, stop moving!” she told me.

I obeyed, realizing that moving may have been a stupid move on my part. By this time, a group of other late-comers had crowded around me. The looks on their faces were filled with concern and hidden excitement at the prospect of an unusual day.

To my embarrassment, a few of the guys surrounding me decided to pick me up and take me to the girl’s car. I protested, quite sure I could walk, or limp, at least. The pain was starting to sink in at the left side of my body. The girl decided it best to take me to the school nurse, since it was closer than the hospital.

The drive there, though short, was fairly odd. Neither of us seemed sure of whether or not I should be angry with her for hitting me with a car. We settled for awkward chit-chat. I learned that her name was Rachel and her dad was a doctor. That’s why she had seemed so level-headed.

She seemed really upset about the whole situation and I felt the need to comfort her. I told her thank you for saving me from detention. She laughed.

Once we got to the nurse’s office, everything happened fairly quickly. First, campus police showed up to file a report. Next came my frantic mother and Rachel’s father. With each phone call the nurse would make, we’d hear the same words:

“She got hit by a car,” she would say. “No, she was a pedestrian.”

While the officer questioned Rachel, the nurse examined me. She said that by the look of my swollen ankle, she wouldn’t be surprised if the tire ran over it. While I refused to look at it, I did get a glance of my now-purple elbow, which I had apparently landed on pretty hard. I was one giant bruise.

As I slowly began to survey the damage, I caught pieces of Rachel’s story. She had had the sun in her eyes and missed her turn. When she went to back up, she didn’t see me. She said she felt like she’d hit a box, and was shocked to see me lying on the ground.

My mother took me to the hospital shortly after to get X-rayed. We discovered nothing was broken. Not only did I not need a wheelchair, but I didn’t even get crutches. Not that I’m complaining about my good fortune, but I couldn’t help but think how lame it would look when I walked into school in a couple of days. After all the talk that was sure to come of my “tragic accident,” I wouldn’t have so much as a cane.

Since the doctor had given me orders to stay off my feet for a couple days, I spent the next forty-eight hours lounging on my black leather sofa watching Gilmore Girls. It was amusing to get calls from friends reporting the rumors they’d heard around school. Some said I had died. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my ten minutes of fame.

I was lucky; I was hit by a car and relatively unharmed. Some support the idea of early-morning school, saying that students absorb more at this hour. However, driving at dawn can prove quite dangerous, as my story reveals. She said the sun was in her eyes. Had it been just a couple of hours later, and the sun just a little higher, would she still have hit me? To this question, I may never have an answer. However, as long as students are forced to get up so early, drivers, please keep a pair of sunglasses in your pocket and pedestrians a wary eye behind you.

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About Christy Shuler

  • Jordan Richardson

    So…basically you’re against the idea of school “early” in the morning because of the sun obscuring the view of drivers?

    ….sounds good enough to me!