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Yellowstone’s Blog (2) Decorating the Halls

Photograph of Yellowstone National Park with blue pool of steaming  water.
Yellowstone is a teenager with CVI who was diagnosed a few years ago.

Since everybody’s been asking me about this lately, here’s how High School’s going... 

HOMECOMING

My understanding is that Homecoming is  purely an American thing, so here’s a brief explanation:

In the fall (Autumn) of the school year, there’s an event called Homecoming, which includes a game of (American) football on Friday night and then a dance on Saturday night, and I’m pretty sure alumni are invited to this (hence why it’s called ”Homecoming”). I didn’t go to the game or the dance because that’s too much for me to handle. But the week leading up to it was turned into a ”spirit week”, so kids dressed up as something different every day. That by itself was okay, but the worst part was that each of the years decorated a hallway, which was VERY distracting if you were trying to get to class.

The freshman hallway wasn’t too bad; it just had a few posters on the walls (and Christmas lights, which was the most difficult distraction). The sophomore hallway was decorated with more posters and more Christmas lights. They went with a theme of campfires and marshmallows (sophs’mores). Then the junior hall had even more Christmas lights and a bunch of wall decorations (American football-themed) that covered up some poor kid’s locker and was very difficult to navigate, so I just avoided going through there. The senior hall was definitely the worst. Instead of Christmas lights, it had orange felt taped over the ceiling lights, so the entire room was lit up orange (very distracting) and there were Old West-themed decorations not only on the walls, but also on the doors and some random freestanding stuff in the hallways that we had to remember to walk around. There was also country music blaring in the background. Normally I like country music, but this was just an extra distraction. These decorations have since been taken down, but for that one week it was very difficult. 

The school decorates for holidays like Christmas and Halloween too. (I remember one teacher who had a Wizard of Oz-themed classroom and put witch legs in the trash can (rubbish bin) for October so for an entire month no one could throw anything away in there). Mostly the decorations are only in the hallways so I’m okay when I’m actually in class, but it’s finding the classes that’s the problem. I addressed this with my O&M (Orientation & Mobility) teacher and we discussed ways to navigate during that week. I ended up going the wrong way several times to avoid walking in the decorated halls and got yelled at by several hall monitors, but it was worth it. 

”School spirit days” are definitely difficult. I wouldn’t say they happen exactly regularly, but definitely frequently. There are usually ones for Homecoming, Halloween, Thanksgiving (an American holiday that involves eating a bunch of food, particularly turkey), Christmas, and maybe Easter (or at least spring). We get random stuff too sometimes (like in elementary school we dressed up like people from the 50s on the 50th day of school, which I did not participate in), but mostly it’s around those holidays. There was one time the principal of my middle school wore a hat shaped like a Christmas tree with real blinking lights and I had to literally put my hand up in front of my eyes to block her out during gym class. 

Here’s what I do to make sure I know what’s going on with decorations: 

  • Make sure I know ahead of time. I usually ask people to tell me of any changes before they happen so I’m not caught completely off-guard. (And things like when we went to a new church over the summer, I asked if I could check it out before we started attending services there just so I knew where everything was.) 
  • 2. Give myself some time to get used to it. By this I mean if it’s been a while and it’s still bothering me, it’s likely something other than novelty and I need to ask if I can do something else. 
  • 3. Find excuses to not look at stuff, especially if it’s temporary. This could be anything from facing away from them to pretending to be on my phone. 

So I have some strategies now, but I definitely didn’t have the skills or the resources to do all this when I was younger. I think at some point I learned to stop being dramatic about it because this was off-putting to too many people.

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