May 21, 2021

My Typical School Day As An American Teen

Tags: 2021, Israel, Strong Women Fellowship, Teen Voice

Stella Mackler is an Amplifying Israel Teen Fellow from Atlanta and a Strong Women Fellow.

It’s Monday morning. My alarm goes off at 6:15 am, which is too early. Way too early. But for me, this is just the start of a normal day. I like to run in the mornings, so I have to get up this early to make sure I have enough time to be in the car on the way to school by 8:10. I roll out of bed and get ready to go, passing the mezuzah on my bedroom door frame, then my front door, taking off down the street as the run begins to peek through the clouds. I love running in the morning. It’s a stress reliever, a break, a time all to myself. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, or music, or nothing at all. I pass the same people each morning, the walking mom in the bright colored tank top, the men who run together, the man waiting for the Marta bus on the corner. My morning runs are one of the only constants in my life, and they bring me a great sense of peace. 

When I get back to my house after about an hour, it’s time to get ready for the day. I grab some breakfast, which normally consists of oatmeal with a banana, and of course a cup of coffee. I call out to my brother, who is perpetually late, that I am leaving whether he is ready or not. He normally makes it to the car door before I’m out of the driveway. Then we are off to school. It’s about a 10 minute drive to my high school.I go to an inner city school so it’s a pretty diverse place, but there aren’t that many Jews, maybe me and about 5 or 6 other people in my grade. This means I often have to deal with tests on high holidays and pointed stares whenever we study the Holocaust. Even so, my school remains one of the most accepting environments I’ve ever found myself in. I feel lucky when I say I’ve never felt like an outsider or unwelcome in any way because of my Judaism.

I am a junior and my brother Meyer is a freshman. We don’t see each other much during the day, but then again, I don’t see many people during my school day. Because of the pandemic, classes were all online for the majority of this school year. When school reopened in February, only about 15% of students chose to come back. Out of my four classes, the biggest one has four people aside from me. Everyone else is at home. 

At the beginning of every class I log on to Zoom. Even though I am back in school, due to the fact that the majority of students are not, we still conduct classes all online. We have an hour-long break for lunch, which is nice. I spend that in my photography class. I’m the only one in that class who went back to school in person. There used to be one other boy there with me, but he was a senior and he graduated so now it is just me and my teacher. I’m fine with that though, I like my teacher and I enjoy the time I get to spend talking with her. My youngest brother’s bar mitzvah was during the first week of May, so I’ve been telling her all about that. I read Torah and I didn’t mess up! My family was super lucky because we actually were allowed to invite guests to the service (we had 50 people). 

Celebrating my brother’s Bar Mitzvah

At the end of the school day, which is at 3:30, I walk out to the parking lot and wait for Meyer to meet me in my car. Sometimes I have to bring some of his friends home too, a lot of them live in our neighborhood. I like to drive with the windows down, especially since it’s gotten warmer out. There is this really pretty street that we drive down on the way home, it’s lined with cute houses and there is a park too, but my favorite part is all the trees that flower in the spring.

Once we get home, I start on my homework, or mock trial, or my school newspaper article, or anything else that needs to get done. Friday nights are different though. On Friday nights (on the rare chance that all five of my family members are home for dinner) we gather around the table over my mom’s homemade challah. We do the brachah over the candles, the wine, the children, and of course the delicious bread. Then we sit down to a home cooked meal made by my mom and myself, and we enjoy our time together. 

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