Written by Amanda Rennick, 2012 Senior, Quapaw High School

When I started school at Picher it was a different experience than most children had. There were no tears and no crying to stay home because I already felt as if I was at home. I was born and raised in Picher. I lived my life there and knew everyone as if we had been friends for centuries. The word "stranger" wasn't in my vocabulary because it wasn't something experienced in my town; there was no such thing as a "bad" neighbor or any fighting. We were a family, a family enclosed in a small town, a quiet, peaceful community where I knew everyone and their kids.

Being a gorilla and a resident of Picher I gained incredible values and morals. I was taught that everyone is special in their own way, that we are all unique and that we should appreciate these qualities in one another, not hate them for it. I grew up on the principles of hard work and the value of life and everything around us, my parents, Picher schools and my community taught me all of this and more as I grew up. Looking back I couldn't ask for a better teaching system growing up. I received incredible help through optimum quality teaching during my time at Picher. In school we were taught great expectations. First, we were rewarded for them but as I and many others grew to learn, great expectations should be practiced whether or not there is a prize waiting for you at the end of a good deed. Learning that the feeling of doing a good deed rather than the reward for it has and will always be a trait I carry with me. Growing up and attending Picher schools made me feel at home and gave me a sense of purpose.

As I grew older I grew more and more aware of the things that were going on around me. Buyouts and unsafe environments, words and phrases I had never heard of. I could never imagine the place I lived, where I had grown up ever being remotely unsafe or even dangerous. Things began to take a turn.for the worse. Friends, neighbors and even family all selling out and moving away. The day my parents told me we would have to move I cried, I broke down and cried because I could never imagine a life outside of this wonderful place I had grown up in, lived my life in. Generations of my family had gone through the Picher school system, all graduates who continued to live and work in Picher. I hated moving, the thought that I wouldn't get to continue in such a prestigious line my family had created, it made me sad. The year we moved I would have been starting middle school at Picher. Something I had held at such a high place, getting out of elementary and experiencing something all kids look forward to was gone. I would have to start in a new place, begin my next steps somewhere new. That was more than terrifying.

The transition was hard, every day from the start of the school year I would ride from Picher to Quapaw, passing the school I once loved and attended. Starting at Quapaw was difficult. Though some of my former classmates were there, it was still very different. I didn't know very many people, it had been the first time I was ever in a room full of unfamiliar faces. I . remember, they all looked at me funny. Of course they did not know me but there was something behind those looks, spite. I was bullied, made fun of and even ostracized based solely on the fact that I was once from Picher. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to go to school. I didn't understand, I had never been somewhere kids fought or segregated themselves. I wanted it to all just be a bad dream, one I could wake up from.

As I grew up and began high school things became better, my classmates, from both Picher and Quapaw, all became friends and we all coexisted peacefully. In my first three years of high school I retained the title of class president. Now I'm finishing up my second year at Northeast Technology Center- Afton, and I will finish with three different certifications and the' title of Graphic Designer. I will graduate this May from Quapaw High School. In my future I plan to attend NEO A&M College in pursuit of a career in marketing through graphic design. Though I had to leave my home in Picher I'm grateful for the opportunities and education I received there, both in school and out. Growing up in Picher truly impacted me and made me the persistent and determined person I am today.