So Megan’s all settled in at the Parthenon, when she faces her first of many challenges – the first day at a new school…
Megan slowly put on her uniform—a blue and gray plaid kilt, white knee socks, white button-down shirt and navy blue tie. She picked up her blazer; also navy blue, with the crest of St. Agatha’s College for Girls embroidered on the left breast. She pulled it on.
Megan leaned down in front of the vanity mirror to adjust her hat, a wool beret the same color as the blazer. She looked at herself and sighed. Ick. I hate uniforms. She missed wearing whatever she wanted to school. Uniforms, in her opinion, stifled individuality. Little drones that all look alike, marching along like good little soldiers.
“I suppose it’s not that bad,” she said to her reflection. The uniform didn’t really flatter her figure, but it didn’t make her look dumpy either. She pushed her hat so it sat at an angle. “At least it’s a nice color.”
Not really convinced the uniform was in any way better than wearing something from her closet, she grabbed her bag off of the chair and went downstairs.
Twenty minutes later her father dropped her off for her first day at school at the front entrance of a building that looked like a castle from the Middle Ages. Hundreds of girls, all dressed like she was, streamed in the front door.
“Don’t forget, you’re supposed to stop in and see the headmistress first. Have a nice day, Meg,” her father said. He raised his hand to muss her hair, stopped, and patted her on the shoulder instead.
“Thanks, Dad. You too.” She kissed him on the cheek, opened the door and dove into the sea of bodies headed inside.
After being jostled and bounced down the halls, she finally found her way to the headmistress’ office and knocked.
A women’s voice answered. “Come in.”
Megan opened the door. The room was small and neat. Three walls were covered with portraits in heavy wooden frames, men and women dressed in black robes, mortarboards on their heads. The fourth, opposite the door, was taken up by a large window that arched upward toward a peak, like the window of an ancient cathedral. In front of the window sat a desk. Behind the desk sat a middle-aged woman. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled back in a severe, sensible-looking bun. She hunched over the desk, engrossed in paperwork. She looked up when Megan entered; she had a thin face with a small, pointed upturned nose, delicate cheekbones and round blue eyes.
“Can I help you?”
“Ah, yes.” Megan squared her shoulders and tried to stand up straight. “I’m Megan Montgomery. I’m a new student and this is my first day. They said I had to report to you.”
The woman shuffled through the papers on her desk and pulled out a manila folder. “Yes, of course. The girl from America. Well, come in child, don’t lurk in the doorway. Please sit down.”
A thick burgundy rug muffled Megan’s footsteps as she walked to one of a pair of high-backed chairs in front of the desk. She tried to look graceful as she sat down.
“Welcome to St. Agatha’s.” The woman gave a smile that reminded Megan of a cat who has just found a juicy mouse. She folded her hands on the desk, sat up straight, and looked Megan in the eye. “I am Miss Spencer, the headmistress.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Miss Spencer nodded. “Since you are from America, you are probably not familiar with our British education system. You are thirteen, correct?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Megan had never really called anyone ‘ma’am’ before, but Miss Spencer looked like someone who she should. “I’m in the eighth grade.”
Miss Spencer’s smile widened a bit, but it was still a smile that looked put-on for company. “It’s ‘yes, Headmistress’. And we don’t have ‘grades’ here. You are in third year.” The headmistress picked up the file and walked around to Megan’s side of the desk. “I’ve looked over your transcripts, and everything appears to be in order. But I must warn you, Miss Montgomery. Here things are going to be much tougher than they were at your old school. This institution is a tradition among many families from all over the world.”
“The world?” Megan asked. “Do their families all move here so they can go to school?”
Miss Spencer laughed like a parent whose small child just did or said something cute and silly. “No, no, of course not, dear. Some, like you, are day students, while others live in our dormitories. We pride ourselves on turning out the finest young ladies. To that end, you will be taking more subjects than you are used to, including Latin.”
“Latin?” Who speaks Latin?
“Yes. As well as Music, Math, World History, Science, Literature, Philosophy, Geography and Art. You will also be in a House.” She flipped open the file. “I’ve placed you in Whitmore. Your House contains about twenty girls from each year. Your Head is Professor Livingston, she teaches History. If you have problems in school, academic or personal, go to her. Each house also meets twice a week for tutoring and study.”
“I see.” Megan’s stomach felt as if it would drop out of her feet at any moment. All those classes, plus forced study? Megan had held her own at her old school, but she wasn’t exactly a straight-A student. I’m in trouble.