Amelia hesitantly sat down across the desk from Ms. Song.
Despite this being part of the unorthodox interview process, Amelia still felt a little bit like a girl being sent to the principal’s office. The schoolgirl outfit didn’t help. It wasn’t a familiar feeling, as she had always been an upstanding girl; a straight-A student. The only time she went to the office in high school was to drop off a form every now and then, and she actually struggled to remember whether or not she had ever even stepped foot into the principal’s office back then.
She wasn’t actually in trouble. And yet, she found herself shifting in her seat in general discomfort. The borrowed flats were too tight, the blazer felt a little tight now that she was seated, and the room was too warm.
“Please stop fidgeting,” Ms. Song said.
“Sorry,” Amelia replied. If she wasn’t self conscious before in the embarrassing outfit and unfamiliar environment, the blunt demand of the Student Advisor did the trick. It was so unexpected, Amelia had muttered her apology without even thinking. Now hyper focused on her posture, not wanting to start things off on the wrong foot, she sat up straight and kept her eyes trained on the woman behind the desk. “I’m just not used to the uniform; that’s all.”
“Understood. Although you should know that excuses are frowned upon here. Proper young ladies take responsibility for themselves, rather than placing the blame elsewhere. Was it the uniform’s fault, or was it your own?”
“. . . It was my own fault.”
“Good answer. Now then, shall we take a look at your file?”
God, these poor girls. In her younger days, Amelia had often fantasized about places like this. Though she hadn’t been a rebellious high schooler in the slightest, she still dealt with the usual angst that most teenagers did. A boarding school with no parents around sounded amazing. All the freedoms of college, but earlier than that. Granted, most of those daydreams consisted of an institution like PCA, a school on a show she used to watch. Teenage life in dorms, but still with whatever outfits you wanted to wear and a beautiful, sunny campus.
Westridge was definitely not that. While the campus was impressive, she would have preferred a modern look instead of the old, stone buildings that made up the school grounds. The uniforms, of course, were a bummer. And, from what she had experienced so far, the teachers and administration were a lot more strict than Amelia’s public school faculty were. Not unkind, but definitely too serious for her liking. Including Ms. Song, who started things off by criticizing her and tacking on a patronizing question at the end.
Thankfully, Amelia would only have to suffer through this kind of treatment for another few hours. Being on the giving end would also be weird, of course, but it was far better than receiving what she had dealt with so far. Even Ashley, another student, talked down to her. Amelia was certainly empathizing with the other students, as Mrs. Thompson had first suggested, but in a lot more ways than simply going through the motions of a first day’s schedule.
“Sure,” Amelia said. That’s all she could say. Before, the plan was to mention how she didn’t get a lot of sleep, or that she hadn’t taken a history class in years. Something to give her a little padding in case the weaker sections of the aptitude test ended up being a problem. But now that Ms. Song just made a point that excuses weren’t well received here, that no longer felt like a safe move.
The advisor pulled a small stack of papers out of a manila folder on her desk. “You should know, Ms. Roberts, that Westridge Academy is more academically strenuous than the average public school. So please, take no offense when I lay out the classes you’ll be starting in.”
It was one thing seeing the fake name on the aptitude test, but something else entirely to be addressed in such a way.
“Umm, is this part of-”
“Amelia. Proper girls do not interrupt others. May I continue?”
It was definitely a rhetorical question. Feeling smaller than ever, Amelia gave a quiet, meek nod.
“Now then,” Ms. Song began, “It seems as if you were passing all your classes before, but only just. Your test results suggest that you’re not ready for the majority of the 7th grade classes we offer here. There were a number of weaknesses highlighted by your aptitude test, and it’s important that we address those before allowing you to join the other girls in your grade.”
“But- umm, I-” Amelia stuttered out. She did a lot better than ‘barely passing’ her old classes, especially if Ms. Song was looking at her pre-college information. And what was she supposed to do if she couldn’t observe the right classes? Once again, she was desperate for someone to just drop the act and be straight with her.
Ms. Song apparently wasn’t the one who would be doing that for her. “There’s no need to be embarrassed, Amelia. This is common. More than half the girls here had to go through some degree of make-up material before they could fully attend their classes. Now, I’m going to go through my recommendations for you. Listen carefully, and let me know if there are any points you’d like to address. The proper response here is ‘Yes, Ms. Song.’”
It was so unfair. At this rate, Amelia was seriously considering whether or not she should just bail and go teach somewhere else. The uniform had been enough of a pill to swallow, especially due to how self conscious she was about her petite size. But she had NOT signed up to be treated this way by everyone for a whole morning. No one had told her. She didn’t care if the surprise made it more authentic; it was humiliating.
At the same time, she was in too deep. The uniform was on. The test was done. Backing out now would mean she had gone through this awkward experience for nothing. So, she pushed on and tried to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A well-paid teaching position with benefits, and the best possible stepping stone for her future.
Biting her tongue and glancing away, Amelia muttered, “Yes, Ms. Song.”
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