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Monday, May 30, 2016

A "Prom"-ise to the BCI Class of 2000

The more I thought about it, the more I want to write this here.  At 35, I hold no regrets.  I have no desire to try and sugarcoat things any longer, and I definitely don't want to rebuild any bridges that I may have wanted to build after setting them ablaze some sixteen years ago. 

The first thing I am going to say is that this piece is directed towards a group of people in general.  If you just happen to be one of these people and you happen to be friends with me or have me friended on Facebook...chances are this note will not apply to any of you, and you can continue to drink your coffee, read the paper, or bury your children in the sandbox.  Whatever floats your boat.

To the rest of you.  Pay close attention.  In all likelihood, this will be the last thing that I ever say to any of you.

You know, I was actually inspired to write this post after overhearing a few of my workplace colleagues talking about the prom.  In my department, I'm almost considered middle-aged, as some of the people are older than I am, and many of the others are high school seniors.  But that in itself is not a bad thing, as I get along with mostly everyone in my department.

And many of you probably know that the end of May and the beginning of June is designated as prom season.  Some schools in my area have already had their proms, and some still have yet to hold them.  But essentially a prom is blowing hundreds of dollars on some fancy gown or rented tuxedo, dancing in the middle of a hall filled with balloons, crepe paper, and dangling silver stars that the dance committee spent hours making, and for some people getting drunk off of the spiked island punch. 

At least, that's how I imagine that prom would have been like for me.  I never went to mine.  Unless you consider the grad party where the only time I really did anything was when I sang "Love Shack" during the karaoke portion of the evening...and that was only because I was dared to do it.  But I don't really consider that a prom because there was no dancing.  I don't even think there was a cake!  Can any of the four people who I still keep in touch with from high school tell me if there was cake?  If so, I never got any.

But it wasn't just prom that I turned my back on in high school.  Truth is, I never really did much of anything in high school. 

See this building?  Some of you will recognize it right away.  But to the majority of you who have no idea, I'll tell you.  This is Brockville Collegiate Institute, located in Brockville, Ontario, Canada.  This is the place where I attended high school from September 1995 until June 2000 (remember, back in the days in which I was a student, we still had the OAC year in Ontario).  And this was the place in which I can legitimately say without a shadow of a doubt that I absolutely hated the most in my entire life.

Let's put it like this.  Whoever tells you that high school is the best period of your life is either lying, extremely shallow, or Al Bundy squeezing a size 9 foot inside a size 4 shoe at the local shoe store.

If your high school experience is what you make of it, then I'm afraid I didn't make much of it.  It wasn't always the case though.  When I first started high school and entered grade nine, I was really excited to be a part of a new school, and I wanted to have the ultimate high school experience that was filled with dances, parties, football games, school clubs...and yes, even homework assignments.  But by the time I was in my final year of school, the only thing that came true was the homework part.

For the entire time I was a student at BCI, I never truly felt like I belonged.  I was a fish out of water, so to speak.  In a school filled with Red Rams, I was totally the Black Sheep.  In a way it seemed fitting though.  Red and black were our school colours.

And why did I see myself as the black sheep of BCI's Class of 2000?  Well, I'd say that there were many reasons.  I always felt as though I never measured up to the rest of the school.  I was a kid from a working class background who knew how much the value of a dollar was and became a master of stretching it to its brink.  In comparison, many of the students that attended BCI at that time seemed more materialistic, snobbish, and holier-than-thou.  Maybe it was just how I perceived it, but I always felt that the majority of people at my school looked down at me as if they questioned why a scrub like me would dirty up their school.  And believe me, some were extremely vocal about it too.

I never forgot the time that some kids decided to decorate my locker with some of the biggest balloons that they could find.  Sounds nice, right?  Well, two things were wrong.  One, it wasn't my birthday.  And two, somehow they found out that I had a sensitivity to loud noises that caused me to burst into tears every time a balloon popped.  I guess they were using the opportunity to get some free entertainment at my expense.

The frustrating thing about it was that none of these boys - believe me, I refuse to call them men - even knew who I was.  They were just going on hearsay from some friends of theirs who knew me, and who didn't like me.  But I suppose that was par for the course when it came to the BCI Class of 2000.  For all the preaching that they did about being welcoming to all students, I certainly never felt welcome. 

And you know, I didn't deserve that.  I still don't feel that all these years later I deserved the horrible treatment that I got from the majority of the Class of 2000 at BCI.  I didn't deserve to be the target of a smear campaign from kids who knew me from grade school and who wanted my high school life to be a living nightmare.  I didn't deserve to be shunned and ignored by most of you because I didn't wear designer clothes, looked like a Backstreet Boy, or wasn't perceived as cool because I was the chubbiest kid in the class.  I especially didn't deserve to have my belongings inside my locker set on fire because you all thought it was the funniest thing ever even though that event triggered a depression so severe that it brought me social anxiety and made me almost do something at age sixteen that I look back on with regret.  

I didn't deserve any of that.  And yet, BCI Class of 2000...that's what you gave me.  EVERY DAMN DAY. 

The sad thing is that I look back on that time, and I realize that most of you were horrible, bratty CHILDREN who mistakenly believed that they were the best high school students in the world and that you would be popular the rest of your lives.  Guess what?  You weren't popular with me.  And, while I realize that I was the one member of the Class of 2000 that you never really saw as much of anything...believe voice and my thoughts counted, even though you were too absorbed in your fat egos to really notice.

You know what the real shameful thing about all of this was?  The shameful thing is that despite how badly the majority of you thought of me...I still thought the majority of you were worth getting to know.  The more you treated me like dirt, the more that I wanted to understand why. 

I suppose there was a part of me that felt that if I could sit down and have a one-on-one talk with all of you, I could understand what it was about me that was so repulsive and so horrible that it would justify you freezing me out and treating me so terribly.  I honestly would have listened to what you had to say if you had just given me the chance to reach out to you. 

But that's just it.  Most of you never really knew me at all.  You were so co-dependent on the people that you hung around with that you closed yourself off to those who were new and who just wanted some assurance that maybe there was a place for them after all.  And it's not just school that this happens at.  I can think of a few workplaces (including my own) where this happens all the time, and it's not a good feeling no matter how old you are.

I guess looking back on it, that's the main reason why I just saw BCI as a place where I went for seven hours to learn about things that really had no bearing on my current life now, and went home.  I never did any sports, clubs, activities, or anything like that until I was in my last year of high school.  I think maybe the only reason why I even bothered with doing some activities in my last year of high school was to show the Class of 2000 just what they were missing.  After all, they had more or less ignored me or humiliated me the previous four years.  The unfortunate thing was that I hadn't really changed my personality much between 1995 and 2000.  They just never really took the time to get to know me.  And that's on them.  Not on me.

When I told my co-workers that I purposely skipped my prom, some of them were absolutely shocked.  To many of them, prom is the best way to end a high school experience and I certainly don't blame them for feeling that way about what essentially amounts to an overpriced school dance.  But of course, I swallowed my pride and simply told them that prom never really interested me, and I would have rather spent the night listening to music in my bedroom while playing a marathon of Final Fantasy games.

The truth is...I lied to them. 

I wish I did have that prom experience.  I wish I could have gone to the prom with a date on my arm, dancing the night away underneath those balloons, crepe paper, and hanging stars. 

I wish I had signed up for at least a couple of clubs.  I think that if I had enough confidence in myself not to care what the Class of 2000 thought of me, I would have signed up for the Leadership Development Program.  I think that I would have made a great leader, and I think that it would have definitely helped me become a better person.

I wanted to sign up for the "Reach for the Top" team.  Even though I felt humiliated compared to the other people that signed up, I would have studied and I think I would have done very well.  I wouldn't have even minded being put on television!

I wanted to go to those football games - not because I cared about the sport - but because it was a great way to bond with your classmates and make new friends.

I wanted all of those experiences that shaped a high school career.

I just never wanted those experiences with the BCI Class of 2000.  Because as far as I'm concerned, I would have rather had those times with people who had the courage and respect to get to know me...not with a bunch of cowardly children with no balls who only wanted the "elite" of the school to be their friends.

News flash.  You weren't elite back then.  You aren't elite now.  Most of you probably don't even know how to SPELL the word elite.

So, I guess my final word to the BCI Class of 2000 is this.  I hereby disown myself from your graduating class - because it sure as hell isn't mine.  As far as I'm concerned, I want no part of anything to do with any of you ever again as long as I live.  Do not send me any invites to alumni gatherings or high school reunions.  I guarantee you that I have more important things to do with my time.  You all had your chance - five years, might I add - to get to know me for who I was and not for the bullying I suffered or the half-truths you believed to be gospel.  You all blew it.

I am no longer Matthew Turcotte, Brockville Collegiate Institute Class of 2000 Graduate.  I am instead Matthew Turcotte, a regular average Joe who treats everyone with the dignity and respect that I was never shown inside the hallways of BCI.

I'd wish all of you good luck...but honestly, I don't give a damn.


  1. Very well Written. I am glad you have the guts to get closure for your horrible experience. I am very sorry for your experience, I myself felt the same most of my High School years with exception to the very few "True" Friend I had then and still to this day have.
    I am glad that you did not allow anything that happened to hinder your success. I am also glad even though I do not know you personally that you did not follow through with your bad decision at 16. The world needs more people like you and less people like your tormentors of " Class of 2000". Bravo and you have rose above and made your life successful despite them. I am very proud of you. (Again speaking as someone who knows almost exactly what you went through)

    1. Thank you, Katie. I will say this. 1997 was definitely the worst year of the whole experience...and it's probably a year that I would happily wipe from my memory for good. Ironically though, I am glad that I went through it. It taught me how not to treat other people...and it made me realize just how strong I really am. I am sad to hear that you too had similar experiences, and I wish things could have been better for both of us. But we are both survivors and we definitely have more to look forward to.

  2. Hey Matthew,

    I hope this gets back to you via the lords of Facebook and their sharing elves. It's been a very long time, though one of my favourite aunts has taken occasion to post some of your great articles in the past, so it doesn't seem like it's been that long for me. There's a good chance you don't remember me either, as I was an exceptionally quiet, odd kid, who skipped most of the classes you excelled at, but I do vividly remember you, being the very popular target that you describe in this posting.

    I want to say how much I admire and even envy your courage, honesty and how much you've accomplished in the years since those dreadful times. You say you keep in touch with people from those terrible times? That's just proof of how intensely friendly and open you are, another reason to envy.

    Now that the ego boosting (or sucking up) is out of the way, I have to appologize for my own part in your experience. It's the part that the vast majority of that class, and even that school, was guilty of, and that's of doing absolutely nothing to stop any of it. I didn't offer any words of comfort, I didn't tell anyone off for what they did, even when they were closely associated with me. I knew you were a nice person, and I let bad things happen to you. I wasn't even trying to be elite, or suck up to the elite, I was just a young, selfish coward. For all of that, I'm so sorry.

    Be well, and keep sharing with the world, the world needs your words.

    -Andrew Dunn

    1. The one thing that I do remember is us working on that French project in the attic of the house I used to live in...remember that? I think we got a good mark on it too.

      You know, I often thought about what I was going to say if ever I had the chance to say this blog, I said that I would have liked to have known was it was about me that made them go after me so intensely. If it was legitimately something that I did that was wrong, I would have at least taken notice of it. But you are right in that everyone seemed to be in their own cliques, and that I somehow always found myself on the outside.

      I do accept the apology...though I don't know what you would be apologizing for, as I don't remember you being malicious. Trust memory's excellent in regards to that. And, it's taken me a couple of days to think about it, and I sort of understand why people kept quiet back then. After all, when you're 15, 16, 17, we all strive to belong to someplace. For me, I'm starting to find my place. It just may have taken 16 years to do so.

      Don't be so hard on yourself. As far as I'm concerned, the school administration was just as guilty if not more so for trying to stop it.

      But, I definitely appreciate your words...they do mean a lot.