25 ~ SUNGJO


So far, Sungjo’s first day was quite well. Although, he got a lot of cold glances from almost everyone. He got it. He was Asian. He thought to himself, “Why do non-Asians stare like that at Asians?”

Sungjo was a Korean exchange student. He topped his class back in an international school, and was offered to be an exchange student here in Australia. He only agreed to study in Fahrenheit High School because his former school teacher said FHS was the best high school in Australia. He only agreed to study in Fahrenheit High School because his former school principal said FHS was the best high school in Australia. He wanted to have a good education. The best one. Several months after he sent his application, he found out that his old school actually has a financial backup from the founders of FHS. And he thought to himself, “So that’s why.”

He laughed at his own foolery. He spent the lunch break at the Student Council’s Office. The SC President, Colton Canes, was really nice. He was kind enough to order some pizza and Coke for them to eat. Although, Sungjo wasn’t used to that kind of eating during lunch, he ate anyway. He suddenly missed Korean cuisines.

“So, Seo Sungjo, right?” asked Colton. “Did I say that correctly?”

“Yeah,” said Sungjo. He hasn’t said a word to Colton but “Hello”, “Hi”, “Yeah”, and “No”.

“Do…you…know English?” Colton said.

Sungjo scowled. “I know English. I went to an International School backed by FHS.”

Colton turned red. “S-Sorry about that. You’re the first exchange student from Korea. And an exemplary one, too.”

“Thanks,” Sungjo answered.

“Anyhow, you’ll be staying at the apartments along with the other exchange students. There aren’t many though.”

Sungjo stared out at the window. There was a cafeteria.

“Did you go to your subjects this morning?”

Sungjo nodded.

“Yeah? How did it go?”

“Good. Better than I expected. I was expecting more hostile stares but it wasn’t ‘more’,” said Sungjo.

Colton laughed. “The Asian community of this school have had a lot of complaints of hostile stares on their first days here. But gradually, the non-Asians get used to it. Don’t worry, there’s no kind of prejudice here.”

Sungjo nodded. That was surely reassuring. He didn’t want to get bullied just because of his race. He would have to sue those people for racism.

He and Colton finished the pizza. The President clapped his hands as if to wipe off the crumbs from his hands.

“The assembly will begin in a few minutes so I advised to you to get going to gymnasium now. Do you know where it is?”

“Yeah. It’s just before the gym lockers.”

“Oh. All right. I guess, you already know your way around here. I’ll see you after the assembly back here.”

Sungjo nodded again.

He went out with a stack of books and papers. All the books just came today from Korea. His dad sent him those books to help Sungjo in his studies. The papers were forms from FHS. It was his first day and already a lot of paper works.

He stopped just beside the elevator door and sat on the floor. He put the two smallest books his dad gave him in his bag, and so he was left with five huge books. Sungjo grunted.

I’ll look like a geek. He thought.

He rode the elevator with the difficulty of pushing the buttons. He decided, while in there, that he should put his stuff in his locker first before going to the gymnasium. But the bell rang. When the elevator doors open, he skidded down the hallways ignoring the fact that he was carrying almost fifteen-kilo worth of books.

Sungjo hate being late. He was a punctual student. Late wasn’t in his vocabulary. He passed by his locker. He came to a stop, put down his things to dial his combinations. It opened and just literally threw the books he was carrying inside. He kept the papers and a small handbook that was inside his locker, because he feared he might need it during the assembly.

After closing his locker, he ran again. Students were already hurrying in the gymnasium. He managed to squeeze himself in through the jostling students. He quickly went to the side and saw Colton Canes standing near a booth. The latter smiled at Sungjo, and he awkwardly smiled back.

How did he get here so fast? He thought.

Colton tilted his head in the direction of the bleachers as if telling Sungjo to go there. Reluctantly, he moved but then some guy was speeding pass him, and made Sungjo dropped the papers and the handbook.

He slightly panicked. He murmured, “Aigoo!”

Another guy, a tall slender fellow Asian guy, was running his way. He raised his hand to signal him to stop.

“Sorry. I just need to…..uh,” said Sungjo, nervously.

The fellow Asian knelt to help him. “Here.”

Sungjo smiled lightly and then shyly and awkwardly walked off. He found an empty spot on the third level of the bleachers. He slowly squeezed himself in between. He glanced around just to see any other Asians that could be foreign exchange students as well. But what caught his eye were bunch of jock screaming at each others’ faces.

“Mic test one, two, three,” said Colton Canes. He was now standing behind a podium with the FHS logo. He held microphone casually.

Everyone stopped stirring on their seats.

“Good afternoon, FHS Dragons!” shouted Colton Canes. Everyone screamed, “Yeah!”

Well, they have great school spirit! He thought.

“For those who aren’t new to this assembly, you already know what you guys are going to do. For the newbies, this assembly is a briefing of the clubs and organizations in this fine school. You can go and explore any organizations and/or clubs that may interest you. For this term, the Student Council, with the support from Dean Edevane, have decided to have sign-up sheets already but the formal auditions will be held this Friday. So, the sports teams and musical organizations can have their preliminary auditions today!” Colton explained. “And now, I hand this over to Dean Edevane.”

Sungjo already met Dean Edevane. She was a beautiful yet scary woman. She went up to the podium with poise and elegance. She adjusted the distance of the microphone from her face.

“Mr. Canes has already briefed you lot about the assembly for this year. I have also partnered with the Student Council to have one change of rules,” said Dean Edevane.

Everyone started to murmur.

“You are only allowed to have at least three clubs or organizations. That is at least. The maximum number of clubs or organizations that a student can join is five. This is so because of some certain things that happened last term.”

She lowered her head slightly and turned to the direction of the jocks.

“And yes, I am talking about you, Mr. Fabracante,” Dean Edevane muttered.

A guy with short shaggy dark blond hair stood up and raised his shoulders as if saying, “It can’t be help.”

“And to you, too, Mr. Rutter,” Dean Edevane added.

Sungjo glanced back at the jocks again just to see whom might this other guy mentioned be. But no one stood up like the first guy.

“I hope you all find the perfectly suited clubs and organizations for all of you.”

And that ended the speech of Dean Edevane. A lot of students got up and went down to get to the booths and check-out the clubs they wanted to join in. Sungjo remained seated and saw that there were a lot of students. Colton explained to him earlier that day that each year level had a maximum of 150 students. But no year level has 150 students. Year 11 had the most number of students – 135. As Sungjo calculated, there are about 810 students in FHS. It’s only a small number. However, Colton said this term marked the biggest number of enrollees FHS has ever had. Sungjo wondered why.

He stood up to find which booth he should go first. Instead, he saw the dark blond dude called Mr. Fabracante by Dean Edevane. He was shouting, “Yo! All desperate to be popular like us, head off to the track and field and attempt to join us!”

Sungjo scowled. Smug.

The dark blond dude saw the unpleasant expression of Sungjo. He raised an eyebrow and smirked. Sungjo noticed and looked away. He carefully went down from the bleachers, hoping he won’t meet this guy.

All Rights Reserved 2013

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