Opposite Day

A burnt-out Stuyvesant student ends up in a Stuy completely different than the one they know.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cover Image
By Alifa Azad

“It’s 4:45 P.M., and all clubs without an advisor will end in 15 minutes,” announces the loudspeaker. “Get home safely, and we’ll see you tomorrow, Stuy!” 

You haul your bulky backpack over your shoulder, close your locker, and start the endless list of tasks you still have to do: studying for tomorrow’s math test, working on that essay you never started, finishing that science project, and trying to sleep for over four hours are only but a few of your concerns as you walk down the deserted halls. A feeling of dread overcomes you as you realize that your depression stems from your miles of work, and things could be completely different at any other high school. “If only I ranked Brooklyn Tech first,” you ponder. “I wish school was easy.” Suddenly, faulty lighting starts to flicker overhead as you approach the stairs, and a faint rustling noise interrupts your thoughts. 

After some brief investigation, you realize that the sound is coming from an ancient school Chromebook in the senior atrium. Curiously, you open it to find an open guest account, with just two cryptic words in the search bar. 

“Good luck.”

The next morning 

Exhaustedly, you trudge over the bridge, taking out your ID to scan as you enter the building. Instead, you’re greeted by fingerprint readers. Impressed, you look around, noticing replaced lighting, making the school look brighter than ever. The building has become a modern marvel! Surprised, you turn to see Mr. Moran greeting students. 

“Hi, Principal Moran!”, says an eager student. “Have a nice day!” You question your living eyes. Principal Moran? What about—  

“Take those AirPods out! Or EarPods, or AirPhones, or whatever you all call them these days! And take that hood off!” the now non-principal Yu barks. You get your answer right away. 

“S-sorry, Mr. Yu,” stammers a surprisingly timid senior wearing a sweaty gym uniform. “I-I-I don’t know what got into me.” A freshman pounces on the opportunity. “Yeah, you tell that puny little kid, Mr. Yu! We freshmen are the bosses around here!”

Amazed, you take another glance around. Is this still Stuy? It’s not even April Fools yet, and you feel like the world is pulling a prank on you. You ask another student if the administration is trolling, but he just looks back at you confusedly. Strange. 

“What’s all this?! Get to class,” yells Mr. Yu. You don’t need to be told twice. Hurrying off, you walk into first period math.

“All right,” says your teacher. “Since you all have demonstrated how you’re ready for more advanced math, let’s get right into it. This is an honors class, after all. We’ll be working on…variables! That’s right, no more easy arithmetic! Just the alphabet. By the end of this year, with some hard work, you might even be ready to jump into algebra!” The whole class groans, except you. Gleefully, you realize that you’re finally living the easy life. No more calculus, or AP Stats, or anything! That old Chromebook must have somehow detected your subconscious longing.

At lunch, an amazing aroma fills the air. Gourmet chefs have prepared a three course meal, including dessert! Principal Moran even comes in to give a speech: “I want all of you students to know how important you are, and how much you all deserve to be here. I also want to congratulate the senior class for their performance on the Algebra I Regents! The overall class average was a 72, meaning that most people passed!” The cafeteria erupts in applause.

He pauses, then speaks again. “Unfortunately, the student body doesn’t view Stuyvesant with as much esteem as I do. We released a poll on student life here at Stuy, and the feedback was…surprising, to say the least. I have the forms right here, and I’ll take a moment to read some responses we received. Let me just–.” Suddenly, his lip begins to quiver. A small tear forms at the corner of his eye, slowly making its way down his cheek. Principal Moran, in all his glory, lets out a sob. “An overwhelming 97 percent of students said they feel negative about the education they receive, with one person saying ‘The only reason I put that I feel positive is because I like the lunch. Everything else in terms of classes is pretty terrible, though.’ Other comments include ‘I’m pretty sure we’re the only high school in New York where seniors fail Algebra I, I’d pull all-nighters studying if it made me smart,’ and 'We need to get our academic act together.’ Some students even said that they want to quit school and self-study every AP class using Khan Academy!” 

You can barely contain your disbelief. How could anyone want to experience what you’ve gone through? “I’m really sorry, everyone,” says Principal Moran. “We tried to make Stuy the school experience every student would want, but it seems that we’re doomed to become sleepless machines who never touch grass! Nonetheless, I’ve put in a request for extra APs, and we’re working on hiring more teachers. As a result, we can’t afford these amazing lunches anymore since we’ve used up all our spare funds.”

Your heart sinks. Not even an arguably sentient computer, Principal Moran in his natural habitat, and a newly renovated building could stop fate. Stuyvesant students somehow turned the chillest school ever into an academic weapon base, and there’s nothing you could do to stop it. That’s right, you’re back where you started.