It was a beautiful-sunny day at school in the year 2012 in the downtown area of Los Angeles.
My elementary school, “Union Avenue Elementary School,” was a somewhat big red-blue colored building. Everyday, the school filled up with about 2000 students. I was only nine years old in the third grade. I have always enjoyed school and was always recognized with many awards by my teachers. I’ve always attended my elementary school with my best mind to learn more. The best part was the vendors that sold tamales and pupusas to hungry students in the morning before attending class.
My dad picked up my brother and me from school, and drove us to the tamale vendor. I picked a green-salsa tamale, while my brother picked a red-salsa tamale. I ate my tamale and got dropped off in front of the play area where students would enter and go to their assigned classroom lines to wait for their teacher. I went to my line and waited for my teacher, Mr. Carlos. He led us to the second floor to our classroom, where my classmates and I hung our bags to the backpack-hanger closet and went to our assigned desks. I unpacked my pencil bag and journal.
Mr. Carlos, was starting a lecture on our writing prompt from a book we were reading a week before. Then students in their hyper-activeness started to converse and began to get noisy. Mr. Carlos got up from his teacher’s chair to quiet down the classroom.
During all the commotion, my classmate, who I hardly knew, out of nowhere raised her hand at me and told me, “Poke me here in this spot of my hand with your pencil.”
I didn’t respond. I looked at her and pointed my pencil towards where she told me. I didn’t know if what I was doing was right or wrong. My classmate screamed out in pain like if a knife had stabbed her.
Mr. Carlos directs his tone to my classmate and in shock remarked, “What happened. The pencil lead went through your skin.”
My classmate then points her finger at me in agony, “It was him Mr. Carlos. He poked me with his pencil.”
My heart accelerated. My thoughts went everywhere. I have never gotten in trouble. I thought to myself in desperation, what would happen if my parents found out? What would Mr. Carlos think of me? Would he think of me as a bad kid instead of a good one? Ever since I was little, I have gained a reputation with my parents and teachers as being a very well-behaved student. Getting in trouble was a new experience for me.
Mr. Carlos looked at me in a very disappointing and furious way, “I never thought you would do something like this. Go right now to the principal’s office.”
I felt a hot sensation going through my whole body. All the way from my feet to my head. I was filled with shame. I felt unstoppable tears coming out of my eyes as I walked past the classroom to the hallway towards the stairs. I walked down the stairs to the principal’s office. I didn’t know where the principal’s office was, so I just entered the main office of the school. I told the first adult I saw that I got in trouble. I told her everything I did.
“I don’t know why I poked her. I’m truly sorry. I would never do something like it again,” I cried to the office lady.
“Okay. I’ll walk you to the assistant principal,” she replied, looking at me in a very sensible way.
She walked me to the assistant principal’s office. I remember the office lady telling the assistant principal that I was truly sorry for what I did. She also said that I openly admitted what I did wrong. The assistant principal looked at me and asked me why I poked my classmate.
I was quiet for a moment looking down at my hands but then replied, “I don’t know why I did it.”
The assistant principal didn’t ask me many questions. She just sat me down at a table with three other kids who had also gotten in trouble. I sat there for hours. I looked at the other kids who sat around the table I was at and remarked to myself in my thoughts saying, I shouldn’t be here. I’m not like all these kids who have done worse things than me. In all those hours before lunch time, I reflected on what I had done. I realized how ignorant and foolish I was to just listen to the evil instructions of my classmate. I was allowed to go to lunch and afterwards to class. I didn’t get a call home from my parents, which was a huge relief and a surprise for me.
From that day forward I realized the importance of the idea of “thinking before you act.” I made sure what I did wasn’t going to gain me any regret and consequences which I had to deal with if I were to act upon them. I made sure to not listen to any instructions related to bad behavior from classmates.
Finally, I learned to never have communication with my classmate that fooled me into shame.
Joel Ramirez-Zelaya is a student that attends POLAHS in the harbor-beach town of San Pedro, in the state of California. He loves writing about music, about animals, and science-fiction. He’s very motivated to go to a four-year university and study for a pre-med major, to go on to study medicine. His dream career is to become an orthopedic surgeon.