For reasons unknown to her, Amelia once again found herself in a uniquely patronizing situation. She was being made to speak like any given Westridge student would, and no one but Ashley had treated her like the adult she was since Amelia stepped onto campus.
No one had warned her about any of this. And, aside from the frustrating way that Amelia had to endure being a ‘7th grader,’ apparently Ms. Song wasn’t even using Amelia’s correct grades. As a straight-A student all the way through the end of high school, she couldn’t even fathom how someone could maintain barely passing grades in middle school. Showing up to school every day pretty much guaranteed decent grades, even for slackers. Which she wasn’t.
“It looks like Mathematics and Reading were your two strongest sections,” Ms. Song said. Or, in other words, the exact results Amelia had expected. “Science and History, however, will require some catch-up work on your part. For the next week, we’ll put you through our remedial course in those subjects. I strongly suggest that you make an active effort in the evenings to both review and look ahead when possible. You’ll be tested again on Friday with the potential to join your classmates on Monday if you’ve improved.”
“Umm,” was all Amelia could get out. Her observations were only a one day commitment, and she wanted to ask if there were any blurred lines between her real self and her student self. Was she expected to brush up on these materials on her own time? That was fine if she got the job, but hearing it straight would make things a lot easier to wrap her head around.
She never got the chance to clarify, because Ms. Song moved right on. “Please don’t interrupt, Millie. As for Mathematics and English, your teachers will be given your results to see what things need a little work this week. Additionally, passing your second test on Friday doesn’t automatically advance you. To parallel your classes, one of our high school girls will be assigned to tutor you until you’re fully brought up to speed with the rest of your classmates. Are you following so far?”
This kind of learning is what set Westridge Academy apart from the average public school. Back when she was in school, the tiers were something like Gifted, Advanced, and General. Amelia was at the highest level, though it didn’t make her feel particularly special when she was a tween. When there were 100+ peers in the same classes, it just felt like a normal school routine. Once students were placed, however, they tended to stay in those levels. The school didn’t seem to make much of an effort to push the less intelligent kids towards the next ‘tier’ of classes within the same grade, even if hard work could easily end up bypassing natural talent. A lot of other public schools seemed to have the same issue.
Not at Westridge. The private school only offered a singular level of classes for each grade. Sink or swim. And, for girls that were having trouble swimming, the school used methods like this. Temporary remedial classes, emphasis on ‘temporary,’ and tutors. So, instead of a student getting stuck in a lower level class for a whole year and maybe advancing down the line, Westridge opted for a structure that gave attention to each individual student’s needs and maintained excellence across the board because of it.
This was all in line with the research that Amelia did before her interview, and it seemed like the school wasted no time on such things. The moment a girl arrived, they got right down to business with the aptitude test and the subsequent placement. Although Amelia was reluctant playing along, made easy by the fact that Ms. Song was particularly strict, it was still annoying that she once again had to suffer through the use of ‘Millie.’ Again. Except if it was plastered all over the files sitting on the desk in front of her, then it made sense that Ms. Song would screw up despite Amelia’s earlier correction.
Continuing, Ms. Song explained beyond academics, “As for behavior, I’m aware that you and your former school did not always see eye to eye. Now, Millie, your first day here has the potential to be a clean slate for you. However, we have a few things on your file that have been noted, and I sincerely hope that none of that will follow you here. Teachers are to be treated with respect, as are prefects. That is the most important point I wish to make. Will you have any issues with that?”
Amelia shook her head. “Of course not.”
She was beginning to understand. Rather than working off the impressive form she had faxed to the office, she was being treated as if she was one of the more difficult arrivals. Because while Westridge was home to a lot of girls that were there for a strong academic foundation and a better chance at getting into the good universities, there were also a number of students that were sent there for more disciplinary reasons. When the freedoms of a public school served to enable more troublesome adolescents, the parents that could afford it would ship their kid off to Westridge for an attitude adjustment. It’s not that the school was harsh by any means, but it was definitely more strict across the board.
Then she was to experience a difficult girl’s first day, rather than how her past self might have been received? It still didn’t explain ‘Millie.’ Maybe that was an attempt to needle her. Or, more likely, Ashley thought it would be funny.
“Try that again for me. Will you have any issues with that, Millie?”
It took Amelia a moment to figure out what Ms. Song meant. But then, lightly blushing at the absurdity of it, she said, “No, Ms. Song.”
It was going to be a long day.
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