A Day I Will Never Forget
By Bernadette Alarilla
It was a Thursday on late 2012 in the Philippines. It was a calm morning, but my stomach felt otherwise. I was filled with anxiety because I know what this day has in store. It was our school, Jesus Is Lord Colleges Foundation’s annual foundation day, and that meant there will be academic contests. Even though I reviewed my notes and this doesn't affect my grades, I can't help feeling nervous. The fact that I'm the top second in our class and others were expecting me to do well might've helped.
We started our morning class routine, singing the national anthem, reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing praise and worship songs. After we finished, we sat down and waited for Sir Dating, our teacher, to go back to our room. After he came back with the test papers for our first contest/quiz, my best friend gave me a smile. I smiled back at her and tried to hide my anxiety. After I glanced at the questions when Sir Dating handed me the papers, my anxiety slowly disappeared. Then, I thought to myself there's nothing to be worried about. Then, I started writing down the answers confidently because I knew most of the answers. From what condition the man had that God healed in Capernaum to what mountain Moses received the Ten Commandments.
After we exchanged papers and graded them, the teacher called out the 1st place. It was Angelica, the top first in our class that got a perfect score. Then, Sir Dating announced that there is a tie for second place. It was between me and my best friend, Arianne. We both had one incorrect answer. So we had a tie breaker question.
The whole time we were answering the tie breaker, I wasn't nervous like I was at the beginning of the day. I don't know if it was Arianne or the fact that I was in the top. Sir Dating asked us three questions, two we got both correct but the third one determined second place.
"What was the name of the angel that approached Joseph?" Sir Dating asked. I looked at Arianne and saw that she couldn’t think of the name. I then said "Gabriel." Then the teacher announced that I was second place.
He called the three of us to the front and gave us our medals. The results came out as expected. Angelica, the top first gold, me, the top second silver, and Arianne, the top third bronze. After awarding us, we started our regular classes. I was relieved that I got 2nd place but I was still anxious because of the science contest that I'll be attending after the recess break.
After a couple of hours, the teacher announced that it was recess break. Arianne came to me and we went to the cafeteria. “Well, that was a close one wasn’t it?” I asked her. “Yeah I forgot the name. It was on the tip of my tongue.” She remorsefully said but then followed with “But I’m happy that you got second place.”
After we got our bottles of iced tea, which is what we usually have on recess, we headed back to our classroom. “So, are you nervous for the science contest?” asks Arianne. “Well, yes because everyone would expect me to do well.” I said filled with burden. After how our science teacher, Mrs. Ormeo, always praises me, I can’t help but feel a huge load of burden. “Don’t worry, you’re going to do great.” Arianne said, trying to calm me down. “Thanks, I hope you do well too.” I was extremely grateful to have her there but I was sad because she was going to participate in the history contest.
After chatting, time passed and recess was over. Students are going to classrooms of their respective contests. “Good luck.” We exchanged for the last time. We then went to our groups. In our class, there were five of us participating in the science contest. We had small talk before going to the contest. They were nervous too, just as I am. But even with all the nervousness, I was still determined to have a decent placement. I even reviewed every nook and cranny of my science notebook. We then headed to the classroom of Mrs. Ormeo and sat together at the back row. It was quiet and had a somewhat tense atmosphere which added to the dread that I was feeling. I looked around the room and saw the other students. I saw students who were in the overall top of 5th grade but what really got me nervous was when I saw Katreen and Allen. Katreen was the 2nd, after Angelica, in the overall ever since pre-school and Allen was always in the overall top 5. They may have faltered the tiny speck of confidence I had.
Once all students participating the contest arrived, Mrs. Ormeo started and said an opening phrase then gave us our papers. It was different than the content we learned from our current lessons. Some of them were from 4th grade which I couldn’t remember much but a good amount of them were questions that I can answer. Time passed and I finished the 40 itemed quiz. The teacher then asked to exchange papers. I exchanged papers with the seats in front of me. There were three rows and Katreen was just a row ahead of me so my papers went to her.
After checking the papers, Mrs. Ormeo collected them and announced fifth place. I held my breath. “Grazhel.” Mrs. Ormeo said. I felt my heart got heavier. “Fourth place goes to… Ivan.” My heart felt heavier and heavier. Then she went straight to first place. “For first place… we have a three-way tie.” The tension in the room got thicker. “Katreen.” “Of course” I thought to myself. “Allen.” “As expected” I again thought to myself. But what I didn’t say “Of course” to was “Bernadette.” I felt my heart stop. I was extremely nervous and flattered at the same time because I’m here with the two of them, nominated for first place. I used to just watch them stand on stage and accept awards but now I can be in the same classification as them. I was filled with overwhelming thoughts as the other students clapped. The teacher said that we all got 36. Mrs. Ormeo then wrote our names on the white board, with Katreen on the top, Allen in the middle and me on the bottom. I knew that was the expected ranking and even though she praises me all the time, I knew that she preferred them two because they’re her advisory/homeroom students.
Mrs. Ormeo got some questions for the tie-breaker. The first question was about the parts of a flower. We all got that one. The second question was about the female reproductive system. Allen got eliminated. It was down to me and Katreen. “What is the coral reef predator?” The reason I remember that question and not the other ones is because this question determined first place. After hearing the question, I got an insane boost of confidence because I remember studying it and thinking no one else would know it because it was in an old lesson and didn’t look important and we never went through it in class discussions. I look at Katreen who looks confused. “Crown of Thorns starfish.” I answered. Mrs. Ormeo smiled and announced “First place goes to Bernadette.” Everyone clapped and my classmates looked so proud.
The three of us went to the front and Mrs. Ormeo gave us our medals. She gave Allen bronze, Katreen silver, then gold to me. She said “Well done Bernadette.” I could tell that she was proud. After that, we took pictures. Me and Katreen talked and congratulated each other. We were classmates 1st-4th grade and it has been a year since we’ve seen and talked so it was great talking to her. That whole moment at the front was such a surreal moment. I couldn’t believe that I had beaten them two and won my first ever gold medal.
After the whole school day was over, I went outside with Arianne to wait for my service to come pick me up. Then I noticed, the whole school yard was decorated with ribbons, balloons of every kind, booths and other decorative objects. “Were all this here this morning?” I asked. Arianne answered “Yeah, you didn’t notice?” I then realized that because of the anxiety I carried the whole day, I didn’t even notice this beautiful setting. I asked her if we could walk through the event. She said yes and we ended up watching a basketball game between the kids in our grade and the grade above us.
The whole day was actually filled with joyful events. I got to hang out with Arianne the whole day and we got to explore the event filled with decorations. The anxiety was just making things seem horrifying. But with every butterfly-filled stomach out there, those are just more chances for people to overcome and learn. I learned to not doubt myself too much and not let anxiety block the joy that surrounds me. I will truly never forget this day. The day I won my first gold medal and the day I overcame my anxiety.