Last night was my high school's awards ceremony. I have been once before, and the memory of that night didn't exactly make me look in favour of going again. The man that had been there to give a short speech and hand out the prizes went on for almost an hour. Then we had to sit through most of the awards before I even had to go up, eventually getting a lift home from my friend's parents well after ten o'clock. This time, things were a little different.
It was my last year of high school this past year. So it was near the end of exam time when I recieved my letters regarding the awards. The first was for the school's award for Science, Mathematics and Technology. The second for a departmental award. The latter being much more vague as so many are handed out. Going to the awards ceremony did mean one thing however. I would have to wear school uniform one last time. If you don't/didn't have school uniform you don't know that wonderful feeling of taking of those horrible clothes for the last time. Let me just run through the uniform for our school. Black trousers/skirt. White polo shirt/shirt. Black school jumper/v-neck. Blazers for Prefects and above. A tie (with school badge showing) for use with shirts. Black shoes.
My parents (and ten year old brother) had agreed to come this time. Dad was getting off work early to drive us there. Definitely a strange feeling changing into school clothes at 6pm. My brother complained he would be bored. Which is actually a fair point, I knew I would be.
Arriving in time for the last spaces in the car park, but too early to go into the hall meant awkwardly standing around for half an hour. Leaving my family as soon as I could, I found some people from my year. None of us knew what to do, as rehearsals would normally be done during school time. The head boy for our year ended up asking a deputy head, who just told us to sit in the back right of the hall. One guy claimed the new head teacher was a Nazi "you should see her office, you can't move for swastikas". There's always been some weird people in our year.
Sitting in the back of the hall, hoping it would start soon, I learnt from the program that it was Biology I had a departmental award for. Funny, the teachers were shit. The ceremony started with an introduction from a deputy head, who passed it on to the music department. Half an hour of music in which I learnt the bagpipes can never be tuned and the string band to a mean Pirates of the Caribbean. The head boy "plays percussion sometimes, it's a rock start kind of thing". The guy in the year below who has a massive obsession with Doctor Who sang a song from a Phantom of the Opera sequel. That guy can sing. And the guy who won the school's talent show did a little street dance. The hype about him was right.
I began to think the awards would be given out, then the (acting) head teacher stood for a speech. The most boring half hour about consumerism or something. Then five year's worth of awards before it even got to our year, never mind me. Distinctions (for people who have merits in at least 75% of their subjects) then Departmental Awards (one for each subject for each level) then the special awards.
We went up to the stage a few people before our names were called. The awards were handed out by a retiring PE teacher. My friend received three departmental awards. I had to wait until almost the end for my big award. The last award is the Dux of the school, and just before that was mine. The head boy won the special award for music, and a guy called Danny who does epic graffiti art got the special award for art. Finally I was at the bottom of the stage, waiting on my name being called.
For departmental awards, you get £15 in a book gift card. Some special awards came with trophies. This was what I wanted. Sounds stupid, but a physical trophy to show how good other people think you are at something is pretty special. So I was standing there, with the sudden realization that the two trophies left on the table were the ones for art and humanities and science mathematics and technology. I walked proudly across the stage to pick up my trophy, a fairly heavy silver cup with a plastic base.
My friend turned to me as I went to sit back down, asking to swap her £45 of book vouchers for my trophy. The final award was for Dux of the school. Everyone stood for her as she rushed up the length of the hall, returning embarrassed through the cheering and applause. With a medal.
Nevermind, I have a trophy. I left the school with my old maths teacher congratulating me. The trophy now sits in pride of place on my desk. Wearing my sunglasses.