Every Spring we have an annual school-sponsored party, aptly titled ‘The End’.
After we’ve all finished our year end exams and have had our last classes, the Academy scrambles to keep their students in check. While our seniors are packing up for the last time, attending ceremonies, and saying their wistful goodbyes to the mountain village, the rest of the students are foaming at the mouth for a bit of freedom. It’s natural, then, for the school to freak out and go into overdrive.
‘The End’ is on our very last night on campus, before Graduation and after our closing events the night before. The students are all corralled onto school buses and transported to a secret location undetermined until the week of the event. While I’ve been at the Academy, we’ve always had it at a fancy, upscale, two-story restaurant close to the nearby ski resort. There’s food and an aspiring DJ from the local town, an ‘open’ bar ~ of Coke products. I don’t think the administration wants to pay the money for this attempt to trick students into feeling like we’re sophisticated and independent, but they don’t want any disasters when almost half of the school’s families are in town for the ceremonies.
In my first year at the academy, I marveled at how ‘The End’ was perfectly planned to keep students all in one location under watchful eyes. Everywhere I turned, I saw faculty guarding exits, security cameras blinking, students skulking. I thought it impossible to break free from this funhouse, especially right before Graduation: who would risk expulsion the day before we were free?
I saw my answer in four seniors that year. The first was a total pothead who couldn’t pass up the chance to light up. The second was a maniac who loved the rush of rule breaking. The third had a very poor sense of judgement. And the last was a quiet kid who loved his friends – Evan, I think his name was.
We were pretending to have a good time when I heard a bunch of commotion on the terrace of the restaurant. I walked out and stood next to Talia and Ian, who were both laughing at pointing at something far off in the distance.
There they were – all four of them – making a break for the ski resort.
I watched in horror as three of them led and Evan fell behind. Some of the male faculty tore off after them. Everyone stopped dancing by then and had crowded the deck to see the boys run. And, finally, we watched the ski resort’s security car go after them.
We all ate our food and sat to talk, and even the DJ stopped trying to get us up and about. It seemed like ‘The End’ was truly going to be the end for some of us that night, but not before we made a huge event out of it. I grabbed a drink and followed the other sophomore boys downstairs.
From what I heard, the boys made it to the ski resort. They hiked a trail, which was their original plan, in order to enjoy a graduation present – local marijuana. Evan had just gone along because he didn’t want to be alone. When they saw the faculty after them, they kept going out of fear. And while security began to sweep the mountain, they had to make their way back in the pitch black.
I was sitting downstairs with a group of people when I saw a nearby tree rustle. Out stepped a foot: a Nike sneaker covered in mud. And I saw Evan’s scared face peering from in between the branches. No one else had saw him, but there was two teachers standing nearby. If he moved anymore, he would certainly be caught.
Then and there, I had a choice. Could I let him get caught? If I helped, would I be on my way home too? I stood there, looking at the poor kid, for what seemed like an eternity.
I threw my phone at his feet. The kids looked at me strangely, because I deliberately threw my phone, but the teachers hadn’t seen this. They were chatting idly when I went to go get it. If they asked, I would just say I dropped my phone.
I approached the tree, grabbed my phone, and at the same time, helped Evan out of the bush. He zipped past me and sat down at a table with other kids, who began laughing. The teachers didn’t notice.
At 2 a.m., the three kids were found and promptly dismissed from the school. They also had charges pressed against them. And on the graduation stage, when the nervous Evan got his diploma, he caught my eye in the crowd and winked.