"They begin returning in October," high school teacher Erica Jacobs writes. The swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano? No, she's talking about former students.

They are returning graduates of high school, walking the halls in search of former teachers, former classrooms, former teammates, and possibly in search of the ghosts of their former selves.
Sometimes they are the class stars with 4.0 GPA’s and the lead in the spring musical. But more often than not, they are the disaffected ones who liked your class okay, but hated school in general, and forgot to turn in assignments. Or slept through class. Or even stayed home on test days... They were a reminder to me that high school does not provide “the best years of your life” to adolescents. Even the best high school is a miserable place where cliques make or break self-esteem, where administrators check for cell phone use and midriff exposure, and where sleep-deprived students move through the day pretending everything’s fine... It takes only a few months of college for all that pretense to fall away, and then---miraculously---students often find themselves interested in what they’re studying. And so they return, measuring their newly acquired wisdom against their former selves.
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