Coming back to the place I’ve called home for six years feels extremely strange after being gone for two. Especially when I’m on the other side of things. I’ve watched my home change before my eyes in so many ways. I’ve withstood violence and almost daily fights, helped it grow and become the Law and Public Policy Magnet High School that we took pride in, and aided in the normal teenage rebellion. I’ve watched people come and go through my life and leave permanent scars as well as memories I’ll cherish forever. And then, when I thought my time was up and I wouldn’t have a chance to return, I came back.

My experience is a strange one to say the least, because I know so much more than I did when I attended Shortridge from seventh grade to senior year. I know how students feel about the Butler Writers, and I now know how the Butler writers feel about the students. I understand why some days absolutely no writing can get done because all you need is a place to relax and be able to breathe. Because certain teachers don’t seem to care, other students make you feel insignificant, you don’t want to go home because you don’t want to see what’s waiting, you want to find a place where you can be you.

And I now know that that’s okay. It’s okay to be scared, tired, or bored, It’s okay to want to breathe and be able to relax.

And that’s why the Butler Writers are here. We’re here to write. But we’re also here to befriend, listen, comfort, laugh with, cry with, and help give a voice to the otherwise voiceless. The Butler Writers are here to make sure the students are heard and to make sure they have a safe place. Some mentors don’t realize it, but just by being at Shortridge we are showing that we care about them and care about their well-being. At least in my case.

Being on the other side looking back at my old poems that are still on the Exclusive Ink website, I feel pride that I wrote. That I found a way to show my emotions without being violent, hiding everything, or eventually breaking down into tears. Exclusive Ink was my savior in high school. It helped me get through some of the hardest times in my life and it helped me be able to be proud of my abilities. I was able to clear my mind and write down everything I was feeling without being judged for it or laughed at. I was able to stifle the depression building up inside of me and I was able to be happy.

This is what I think about every day that I’m back at Shortridge. I’m able to help the kids like I was helped, and I know how to now. So this is a thank you to everyone who I’ve ever met through the Butler Writers and Exclusive Ink. Thank you for listening, thank you for caring, thank you for being there for me when I couldn’t even be there for myself, and thank you for being there for everyone else. We at Shortridge owe you so much gratitude. And I can finally say that I’ve come home.

Michael Brown is a junior Digital Media Production major and a graduate of Shortridge Magnet High School.