My First Day in School: Navigating High School with Friends and Family

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Today is the first day of my last year of high school. I woke up at 7:30 and got dressed. In Busan, South Korea, it gets really cold in the winter and early spring, so I often wear leggings over uniform skirts. After I was done changing, I went downstairs for breakfast. “Good morning, Mom,” I said with an angelic voice. “Good morning Moongi, today I made pancakes and hot chocolate,” she said while she poured me a glass of hot chocolate.

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Then I heard footsteps coming from the stairs and saw that it was Joon-Hee. Joon-Hee is 15 years old, and today is his first day of high school. My other brother is Mark; he is 21 years old and lives with us until he moves to Seoul, South Korea, for his dream of becoming a music producer.

Currently, he is working at a – “Good morning, Mom & Moongi,” Joon-Hee interrupted while getting a plate for him and me. A few minutes later, Auntie Jae-Yoon, Grandma Ji-Su, and Mark came downstairs to eat with us. Our dad had already gone to work by the time we all woke up. Auntie Jae-Yoon is a 29-year-old woman who works at a famous cafe near the school Joon-Hee and I go to. Today was also her birthday. Grandma Ji-Su doesn’t work anymore, but she helps keep the house clean and cooks dinner. As Joon-Hee, Grandma Ji-Su, Mom, and I were eating, Mark and Jae-Yoon left for work and told Joon-Hee and me to have a good day at school.

After Joon-Hee and I were done eating, we thanked our Mom and did our morning routine. When my brother and I were putting our shoes on, the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” mother said. She opened the door, and I saw my best friend, Ara Choi. She is 17 years old, but I’m three months older than her. Ara has always been there for me, and I have always been there for her. We have been friends since we were born because our parents are friends, but I think of Ara as the little sister I never had. “Good morning Mrs. Jeong and Joon-Hee,” she said with a smile. “Ara!” I exclaimed while running towards her with my arms open. “Moongi!” she ran into my arms, hitting my shoulder since she was shorter than me. Truly, although we saw each other just yesterday, we always act dramatically when we see each other.

“Goodbye, Mom! Goodbye, Mrs. Jung!” we said while grabbing our backpacks and walking out the door. “Goodbye, kids!” she yelled, closing the door. Joon-Hee, Ara, and I started walking to school, which was only five minutes away. Then we started telling Joon-Hee that he would be fine since he was nervous about his first year of high school. When we got to school, we went to the office to get our schedule, trying to get around the busy hallway. Once we got to the office and got our schedule, Ara and I saw that we had all the same classes. “Goodbye Ara & Moongi!” Joon-Hee said while walking to his friends. We then heard the bell and walked to our first class. After we went to the first, second, and third periods, it was time for lunch.”

“Moongi, we should do something this weekend,” Ara said while grabbing her lunch. “Yeah, we should go to the amusement park that just opened,” I said getting the food tray that smelled delicious. “Sure, that would be nice,” she said, looking for a place to sit around the crowded lunchroom. I then saw a spot and told Ara to follow me. We sat down and noticed some new kids that were in the same year as us sitting alone. Ara walked up and said, “Hi, I’m Ara, and this is my friend Moongi,” she said, turning to me. “Hello, my name is Sou-Bi Kim, and this is my twin brother,” said the brown-haired girl smiling while pointing to her brother. “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Chae-Yo Kim,” the blond-haired boy said. “We were wondering if we could sit with you?” I said, with a kind voice, smiling, and waiting for a response.”

“No, I don’t want to sit with somebody as ugly as you,” Chae-Yo yelled in a harsh voice, laughing with his sister. When he yelled, people started to look our way, and I looked down with a sad expression. Ara noticed I had a sad look on my face, which made her mad because she hates it when somebody is being disrespectful to her family. “Hey, we’re just trying to welcome you!” Ara said in an angry voice, getting more attention. “Well, we don’t need your welcoming!” Sou-Bi said while walking away with her brother. “Moongi, you better be ready for this year because it’s going to get a lot worse!” Chae-Yo yelled, walking out of the lunchroom. “It’s okay, Moongi, don’t listen to them. Even though their father is Mr. Kim, you shouldn’t be hesitant to defend yourself, alright,” Ara said with a bright smile. “Thank you, Ara. I’ll try,” I said with a sad smile. “Come on now, let’s eat our lunch while it’s still hot,” Ara suggested while sitting down. I sat down, smiling and enjoying the food.

Soon, the seven periods were over and it was time to go home. Ara and I walked out of class and saw Joon-Hee walking towards us. “Hi, girls. I heard what happened. Are you okay, Moongi?” he asked in a concerned voice. “Yes, I’m alright, Joon-Hee,” I responded with a reassuring voice. “Okay, just making sure. Sorry I wasn’t there. I would’ve taught them a lesson!” Joon-Hee said, making a fist as we walked closer to Ara’s house. We laughed, said bye to Ara, and started walking home, which was just two houses away from Ara’s. “Tell Jae-Yoon that I said happy birthday,” Ara yelled out from her door. “Okay, I will,” I said, waving bye. I unlocked the house with the keys, yelled that we were home, and heard Mark telling us to go to the kitchen. I was expecting birthday decorations around the house, but instead, all the lights were off except the one in the kitchen.

As Joon-Hee and I were walking toward the kitchen, we noticed Mom, Grandma Ji-Su, and Jae-Yoon crying. Dad and Mark had sad, worried expressions. “Joon-Hee and Moongi, today Auntie Jae-Yoon went to the doctors and found out she has breast cancer. The doctors also said that they would be able to cure it, but they aren’t sure of it,” Mark said with a mournful voice, looking at us. Nobody was really expecting this, considering that it was her birthday. Right when he finished, I went to Jae-Yoon and hugged her while crying, telling her that it would be okay, even though it really wasn’t.

Joon-Hee also went to Jae-Yoon and hugged her, trying to hold back the tears. Mark, Joon-Hee, and I were really close to Jae-Yoon because she was always there for us, even when we would be mad at our parents because they wouldn’t let us get or do something. She was also close to Ara. Ara’s parents used to go on business trips for 2 or 4 months when we were little, and Jae-Yoon would be a mother figure to her. The next day, I told Ara. She cried, and I hugged her.

My family, Ara, and I spent all the time we had with Jae-Yoon. The bullying from Sou-Bi and Chae-Yoo had gotten worse. They have been saying harsh things to me and threatened me that they would physically hurt Joon-Hee, Ara, and me if I told their father, Mr. Kim, that they have been bullying me. Mr. Kim is really strict when it comes to bullying. Despite all the bullying, Ara has been there for me and tried to tell Mr. Kim about the bullying, but I stopped her because I didn’t want her or Joon-Hee to get hurt because of me. During this time, Mark moved to Seoul, South Korea, two months after we found out Jae-Yoon had breast cancer. He was hesitant to move because of Jae-Yoon’s cancer, but she insisted that he follow his dream of becoming a music producer and artist.

Today is the last day until we go on break. Ara, I, and some other girls are going to perform a dance today after lunch. Ara’s parents and my parents are going to see us perform. When it was the third period, the girls and I went to practice in the theater. Once we had gotten everyone, we made our way to the theater. “I’m so nervous,” I said to Ara. “It’s okay. We’ll do great since we’ve been practicing for a month,” she said with a joyful voice. “Yeah, I guess you’re right, I’m just afraid that I’m going to mess up,” I said with a doubtful voice. We got into the theater and got into our positions to dance. “You guys were perfect!” our dance teacher Mr. Jung cheered. “Now go get lunch and afterward go backstage,” he said with a sunny smile. We then got our things and went to the lunchroom. After we were done, we all went backstage excitedly.

We, girls, were the last ones to perform. “And last but definitely not least, we have our Seniors!” Mr. Jung said with a gleaming smile. We were done and heard applause, then we bowed and went off stage where Ara’s parents, Grandma Ji-Su, Jae-Yoon, and my parents were. They told us we did a great job, and my mother told us that she cooked our favorite food, Spaghetti. I then went and told Joon-Hee that we were going home. After my parents were done signing him out, we made our way to the house. That night was filled with a lot of fun and dancing. On Sunday, Jaw-Yoon had an appointment to check up on her breast cancer.

I woke up early and made the family breakfast since my mother was going to go with her to her appointment. When I was done, I greeted my mother. “Good morning,” she said with a smile. “Good morning, mother. I made breakfast today, so you won’t be late for the appointment. Thank you, Moongi!” mother exclaimed. “You’re welcome!” I answered with a bright smile. Soon Jae-Yoon came down and started eating breakfast with mother and me. They were done, and mother told me they would be back around 1 o’clock since they’re also going to run some errands. Grandma, Father, and Joon-Hee eventually woke up and ate breakfast. Today Mark was also supposed to be coming home soon.

Mark had texted us that he would come home today at 12 o’clock. Since it was close to that time, Father and Grandma headed to the airport to get him while Joon-Hee and I stayed home. “We’re home,” mother said, opening the door for her and Jae-Yoon walking to the living room and sitting down. Joon-Hee then came downstairs to greet them. “How did it go?” I asked curiously, also sitting down, but then noticed that Jae-Yoon was crying and mother was fighting back the tears. “The doctors told us that Jae-Yoon’s cancer got worse and they can’t cure it. They also said that she has five months to live,” Mother said, breaking into tears. I looked toward Jae-Yoon and gave her a big hug while crying, and Joon-Hee did the same.

While this was happening, Mark, Father, and Grandma came inside. Mother then told them the news, and they also started crying. Jae-Yoon then told us she wanted to tell Ara, so during dinner time, she came over to help. When we were eating, Jae-Yoon told Ara, and she started crying and hugging Jae-Yoon. When Christmas came around, Ara’s family and my family all gathered at our house and spent Christmas and New Year’s together. A week later, we had to go back to school, and Mark left for Seoul. Ara has been helping ignore Sou-Bi and Chae-Yo, but even though she is helping me, their words still hurt me. Every time they see me, they always say something rude to me, and sometimes I feel like saying something, but then I remember that they threatened to hurt Joon-Hee, Ara, and me if I tell their father. Soon, January passed, and February came; little did I know these were going to be the last few days Jae-Yoon was going to be alive.

Today was a normal day. I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast, did my morning routine, walked to school with Joon-Hee and Ara, and started school. Mother told me that morning that Jae-Yoon was going to stay home because her head hurt, and that she was taking Grandma to work with her since her job was having a party for all their hard work. Before I went to school, I went up to her room and said goodbye, even though she was sleeping. I was in third-period Literature class when Mr. Min was teaching the class, and the phone rang. “Miss Jeong and Mrs. Choi, please go to the office,” he said. I looked to Ara, who was sitting next to me, and asked her to take my backpack if I didn’t make it to the second period.

When I got out of class, I noticed that Joon-Hee was also heading toward the office. I caught up to him and asked, “Did you get sent to the office too?” “Yeah, did you?” “Yes. I did too. I wonder why?” I said with a questioning tone. We then went to the office, and the ladies told us to go to the Principal’s office, which made me more anxious and scared. We went inside and saw Mother crying, Father’s eyes were watery, and the Principal, Mr. Bang, giving an empathetic look. Mr. Bang then left his office to give our parents space to talk. “Moongi, Joon-Hee, Jae-Yoon committed suicide. She jumped off the bridge near our house,” Father said with grief.

When he said that, I felt like my world was crumbling. I hugged father while crying and also felt Joon-Hee and Mother joining the hug. “How did you find out?” I asked, still crying and struggling with my words. “Ara’s parents called us and told us that the police went around the neighborhood and asked if anyone knew anyone by the name Jae-Yoon since she had her phone, which had her name in it,” he said, looking like he was about to cry because he lost his little sister.

After we were done taking them, Ara’s parents came to the office to also bring her home. Once Ara got to the office, I told her that Jae-Yoon had committed suicide. She started crying. “It will be okay; we’ll get through this,” I told her, hugging her and fighting back my tears to stay strong for her. Our parents signed Joon-Hee and us out of school and we all headed home. That weekend was Jae-Yoon’s funeral. My family and Ara’s family attended. During the burial, I started crying uncontrollably and excused myself, with Ara following behind me.

While Ara was comforting me, Father walked up to us with a letter in his hand. “Moongi, Jae-Yoon wrote this letter to you. She wanted me to give it to you after the funeral,” he said, leaving me to read it. The letter stated that even though she was gone, she would always be with me and encouraged me to finally stand up to my bullies. Jae-Yoon wrote that she knew about my bullies because of Joon-Hee. On Monday, when we returned to school, I finally reported to Mr. Kim that Sou-Bi and Chae-Yo had been bullying me. He assured me that they would be dealt with accordingly. Sou-Bi and Chae-Yo apologized during lunch and never dared to antagonize Ara, Joon-Hee, or me again.

Before we knew it, it was already graduation. Ara and I were soon heading off to college. During the two months after Jae-Yoon passed away, it was tough, but we did our best to support each other. After the graduation, Ara’s parents and my parents threw a party for us. I was in my room, looking at a photo of Jae-Yoon and me, when I had an epiphany. I realized that on every Spring Day, she would always be with me.

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My First Day In School: Navigating High School with Friends and Family. (2023, Mar 31). Retrieved from