Getting expelled from boarding school was the best thing that ever happened to me
Serena van der Woodsen and I have a lot in common
It was a cold November night in central Massachusetts, and I was sitting on the campus lawn of my boarding school. I was fifteen years old. My friend and I were watching the leaves fall, as we knew winter was about to set in.
We were talking about boys and laughing, while avoiding doing our homework – typical Wednesday night boarding school behavior.
It was then that I got a text from a guy I’d only spoken to a few times. “Hey, do you still have that bottle of wine?”
I hesitated for a second, not wanting to admit over text that, yes, I was hiding a bottle of California Chardonnay in the top drawer of my dresser in my dorm room.
I had confided in him about my secret hiding place a few weeks earlier. We had been having a conversation about where our favorite wines were from. Over the years I’d learned a lot about wine from my dad – a collector and wine connoisseur – and this boy was educated on the subject as well.
So I replied to saying “yeah I do, why?”
Turns out this boy was part of a group of friends at my school who did not like me, and so in order to impress his friends, he went along with their plan to get me in trouble.
As soon as I sent that text, he and his friends turned me in behind my back.
I know what you’re thinking. How could I be happy that I got expelled in my second year of high school? Seems hard to grasp, but I am ever grateful to the group of idiots who ended up turning me in.
I was extremely unhappy at my school. I wasn’t being challenged academically, and I was bored. I didn’t like most of the people there. Quite frankly, I couldn’t connect with them on an academic level.
I tried to hide the fact that I was intelligent and interested in school. Nobody was interested in what I was interested in; I felt alienated and alone. I wanted to play sports, volunteer, get involved in academics, and take challenging classes – things that literally were not offered at my school.
In order to fill that void, I ended up becoming friends with all of the wrong people: people who didn’t value academics, sports, or achievement, and I lost sight of my own goals. I made a ton of toxic friendships, and I even started being mean to people because I wanted to make myself feel like I was better than them. Then everything changed.
A few hours later, a staff member searched my room and found it. I was almost immediately called into the office and expelled. I was devastated. I never thought in a thousand years I would be in so much trouble over a such a harmless thing.
I understood it was against the rules, but even today I still think that expulsion was much too harsh of a punishment. Kids at my school had been caught with hard drugs before, such as heroin and cocaine, and had only received a slap on the wrist.
Someone even punched a girl in the face and was only given two detentions. I was expelled for an unopened bottle of wine.
Contrary to popular belief, the unopened bottle of Chardonnay wasn’t there because I wanted to get drunk, and it most certainly wasn’t there because I wanted to look cool or share it with my friends. It was there because I sincerely enjoy white wine, and I wanted to watch Harry Potter that weekend with a nice glass of it.
The school accused me of trying to impress my classmates, saying that I had “gone too far,” that I had an “unhealthy need for attention,” which was absolutely absurd.
I had to leave my best friend behind, which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am glad she is still my best and oldest friend today. She was the one person at that place who was never toxic, was never a bad influence, and remains my rock.
As time went on, I came to realize that what had happened to me was a blessing. The unfairness of my expulsion haunts me to this day, but I have realized that everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t happy at that school. The academics were nowhere near challenging enough, and they didn’t even have honors classes or APs.
They didn’t have the sports that I wanted to play, and they most certainly didn’t have the opportunities I needed. I applied to other boarding schools, and was somehow accepted despite my previous expulsion.
Choosing to go to Kents Hill School was the best decision I ever made. My academic interests sky rocketed. I was on three varsity sports teams, I was doing volunteer work, and I was involved in countless clubs on campus. I took AP and honors classes that I was interested in, and did soaringly well on my SAT.
I even started taking college classes when I was 16. These are things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t been expelled.
Because of my expulsion, I finally was able to pursue the academic goals that I had left in the shadows. I was able to challenge myself in the classroom, and I aspired to go to the best college possible. Instead of being a typical student, I became a stand out student.
I made a ton of friends who I still hold close to my heart years later. I made lasting relationships with my favorite teachers. I was even able to go on exchange and study in Spain during 11th grade. None of this would have been even remotely possible if I hadn’t been expelled.
Looking back years later, not only am I okay with the fact that those kids turned me in, but I am exceedingly glad. I am glad that they thought it would be funny to get me kicked out over a bottle of Chardonnay. Because of their ignorance, stupidity, and downright idiocy, I am now a pre-med Honors student majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology with a focus in Genomics and Genetic Engineering, and minoring in Neuroscience.
I have two internships, a full time job at a surgery center this summer, and a fair chance at a great medical school. I am a college athlete, a hard worker, and an academic – all parts of myself that I wouldn’t have been able to find if I hadn’t been forced to leave that school.
I will forever be thankful to those ignorant people who turned me in. They might have thought they’d ruined my life, but they actually ended up saving it.
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