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The Unseen

You're in danger. Though you can't pinpoint any particular reason that you feel uneasy, you keep running. The darkness increases as you travel down the corridor, and the light behind you fades into oblivion. Pitch blackness is all around you, but you know you're being chased. Suddenly the ground disappears beneath you, and you plummet to the depths of the earth, persued by an unknown entity, a monster that, for eternity, will remain unseen.

Everybody has experienced a dream at one time or another similar to the one described above, but dreams are just that--dreams. When the dream ends, you wake up, and an hour later, the horrifying ordeal is forgotten. At Upper Moreland High School, however, there are unseen people around all of us everyday, and the reality of everyday life is that many students and teachers simply ignore the consequences of leaving the unseen unnoticed.

The unseen are normal students in various grades, attending classes of various difficulty levels, and persuing a variety of interests both in and out of school. They have only one feature in common--the way that the general populace shows little or no respect for their strengths and abilities.

Before I continue, let me state that I don't consider myself as one of the group I am about to describe. If I did consider myself part, I wouldn't be writing this article, because I would simply be asking for pity for myself. The purpose of this article is not to put down those who are "seen" (except for those described below), but simply to point out that there are certain people who do not get the respect they deserve.

Recently I reflected upon what a teacher told me one day in early December. He was making a comment on an event that had recently transpired, in which one of the unseen had finally been noticed. The teacher said, "He does a lot of good things, but it's a shame that he doesn't get the respect he deserves." After observing this person, I found the preceding quote to be undeniably true.

The unseen are those who participate in more out-of-school than in-school activities. The unseen are those who are harassed by fellow students because they persue slightly different interests. The unseen are those who were forced to pass up the opportunity to attend the school dance because they were rejected multiple times and eventually stopped trying. The unseen are those who try their hardest in everything they do but whose efforts prove fruitless. The unseen are those who care about school and learning but are alienated by peers who consider them "weird". Above all, however, the unseen are those who aren't really that different from anyone else.

Most of the highly visible people who receive all the awards are very deserving of the praise they receive. My question, however, is that many students are overlooked because they are not as known as those who are visible.

Every one of the above examples was derived from the tales of others who relayed their experiences to me either directly or indirectly. I am writing this article because I feel that many students do not appreciate the contributions made by these people to the school's community. However, I also feel that there are a few people of this age group, rude and arrogant beyond belief, who amuse others and attract friends by taking advantage of and making fun of those who will not stoop to childish namecalling.

One of the unseen was ranked high in his/her class and has labored to maintain an average in the A+ range for four years. Another is a person who almost developed a second "personality" because he thought that he would be accepted if he were more outgoing toward his peers. Another was intelligent enough to be able to apply to a prestigious university, yet he/she is still considered dumb. A fourth walks into the cafeteria every day and sits down, eats his lunch away from others, leaves without saying a word to anyone, and nobody cares. One of the unseen is involved on a school team, attends every practice, and still is the brunt of careless comments behind his back. I could continue to list more members of this "elite" group for the rest of this composition. The negative reactions of their peers on these unseen persons has had disasterous effects on their self-esteem. Failure after failure after failure has convinced several of this group to give up on ever being accepted or to attempt to change their way of life in order to attract new friends.

What have the unseen ever done to merit the way others treat them? Have they been rude or arrogant to those who have interacted with them? Most of these people have purely benign intentions and would never hurt anybody. Are they uninvolved in school activities or don't care about school life? Perhaps one or two of the people mentioned are less involved, but if uninvolvement were the cause for this sort of treatment, then all of the students would have to be uninvolved, which is simply not the case. Besides, one should not be judged on the number of activities in which he or she participates. Have these students not tried to improve their situation? Many have tried harder than anyone I know at everything they do. In reality, the reason for the chasm that divides the unseen from the rest of the students was created by something as simple as sitting in the wrong seat in 9th grade Geometry class.

The next time you walk through the halls of UMHS, pay attention to those around you whom you have never noticed before. Many say that the youth of America are degrading into a mindless mush who listen to alternative music, use foul language, create trouble and are disobedient, and don't understand the "old-fashioned" values of hard work. Look more closely, and you will discover that the reality is quite the opposite -- many of the troublemakers overshadow those, both seen and unseen, who have a lot to offer to society.