Junior high was the first time I ever rode a bus to school. For kindergarten through sixth grade I attended our neighborhood school. Most days I walked or rode my bicycle. We had a carpool arrangement with other families on our block for inclement weather days.
Starting in seventh grade, I went into Tulsa's magnet school program, a program that put the better schools in the worst neighborhoods, then have students apply for admittance. There was always a wait list for students wanting into the schools. Carver Middle School was a 45 min bus ride from my house.
Seventh grade was the first time I came across the concept of "bus buddies": friends you have on the bus you ride. Our bus serviced several different neighborhoods and transported kids from seventh to twelfth grade, picking up along major artery roads and dropping off at first the middle and continuing on to the magnet high school, which I would eventually attend two years later.
Since the majority of my friends continued on to the neighborhood junior high, I had to make a whole new set of friends. At least the situation was the same for all the students and we all had to form new friendships. I quickly settled in and made friends.
I found a picture recently from this time in my life. The picture is taken in my backyard in early summer, at a birthday party. What really makes me smile when I found this picture is that I am still friends with over half the kids in the photo. That's an amazing thing to me considering we all came from different parts of the city and spent our formative years in completely different environments. For such a diverse group, we really got along quite well!
Teresa and Norine, the twins, were the oldest of 7 children and both now live abroad and have over ten children between them. Katheryn is a tenured professor at Dartmouth teaching sociology. James is a communication specialist in Dallas. JJ, who goes by J Edward these days, is a preschool art teacher in Nashville with a husband and two kids. Susan is a zoologist and works at the St. Louis zoo. Paul is a baptist minister at a small country church in central Oklahoma. One of our group, unfortunately, got hit by a drunk driver and now resides a long-term care facility on the east coast.
Travel to a new school was what brought us all together, but common interests, quirks, personalities, and love have kept us together all these years.
(Bonus points if you can pick me out of the group!)