So they're here.
While the young'uns are milling, hoping for revelations that will result in high scores, I'm experiencing a few revelations of my own.
1. When did high schoolers get to be so...young?
To say my high school years were formative is to call the ocean wet or the desert hot. It's an understatement so epic as to warrant a National Parks status. (Welcome to Understatement National Park...I'm Erin, I'll be your guide...)
So to think that those four years wherein I learned my first lessons of love, lasting friendship, betrayal and the proper technique for drop spins...to think that I was experiencing all of this at the age that these - it has to be said - children are now experiencing them is unfathomable.
It's too deep for me.
2. When did high schoolers get to be so...loud?
As I tell myself the lie we all tell ourselves - that we were different. That we were more mature than the current stock. That we were special - I pause for the moment of truth that is this: I was once that young. That beautifully, blissfully naive and hopeful. And yes, that freakin' loud.
A chaperone comes in. He yells over the din: "Reminder: this is a place of work and a house of prayer. Please be respectful and keep the volume down."
Pleasantly and surprisingly, the high schoolers lower their conversations in reverence.
I am impressed.
"That's the kind of respectful teen I was," I lie to me.
Five minutes pass. The noise is, once again, deafening.
3. When did high schoolers get to be so...accepting?
From my bench, where I am scarfing chocolate chip cookies and watermelon (lunch of champions. Who still eats like she's a high schooler? THIS GIRL!), I watch the children play.
I attempt to place their high school of origin, but am surprised to find I can't.
Because certain socially unacceptable clues - race, socioeconomic indicators (you can read a lot into a teen with a Fendi purse) - are nonetheless tipoffs when attempting to ferret out origins.
But these kids - these high schoolers were diverse.
For starters, the student population seemed to be split pretty evenly between white and non-white. And so did the social circles.
As I watched, the white students piled 8-deep into SUVs with the black, asian and hispanic students to head to the McDonald's between test sessions.
The hacky sack pack was comprised of a rainbow of human colors - and not just because the asian kid with the pony tail and painted-on jeans was flashing his hazmat-orange Chucks. (THAT'S gonna be a look he regrets later. Everything from the ankles up anyway.)
Truly, y'all, it was after-school-special beautiful.
Controversy. Cheating scandals. Boycotts of standardized testing. Bullying. School shootings.
We hear a lot about the negatives surrounding this generation of American teens.
But we don't hear a lot about their successes.
When did high schoolers get to be so...resilient? And how, faced with the barrage of bad, do some of them stay so inspiringly, powerfully good?