Teachers reflect on their risky high school experience: Ms. Pomilia


Written by Lisa Hao

Every Friday, English teacher Kathryn Pomilia reminds her students to “be safe, have fun and make good decisions,” because she believes that during the teenage years, rebellion is only natural. When Pomilia was a teenager, she was a bit of a rebel herself—she would often sneak out of her house. Like most parents, Pomilia’s set a curfew and rules. “Parties were not something I was allowed to go to in high school,” she said. “I really felt like that was unfair and an injustice.”

Like many teenagers, Pomilia chose to disobey her parents. “The first time I snuck out, I was supposedly in bed and sleeping,” Pomilia said. “I’ll never forget that feeling of rebellion. I was so excited by the adrenaline of sneaking out, but I was so terrified. What if my dad sees me going down the driveway? What’s going to happen?”

After getting away unscathed the first time, Pomilia continued to sneak out. “I think once I got away with it, I felt like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get caught, I can do it again,’” she said. “For me, the excitement of being at a party with friends and creating new relationships was clearly a more powerful, important feeling than the fear of being caught.”

However, her luck eventually ran out. “In high school, my dad was the baseball coach,” Pomilia said. “I was with a friend who was on the baseball team and he got a phone call. I was talking really loud, only to find out that on the other line was my dad.” Pomilia’s friend was unaware that she was not allowed to be out, and she was immediately busted.

“I will never forget the terrifying anticipation of just sitting there, at this home, waiting for my dad to come pick me up,” Pomilia said. “It was brutal. It was so brutal.”

After Pomilia was caught, her parents banned her from going to parties and denied her the privilege of using her cellphone on weekends. “I couldn’t have any contact with friends unless it went through the house phone so that it could be screened by my parents,” Pomilia said. “It was horrible, because I had my phone for a little bit of time junior year and that was so exciting because everyone was just starting to get phones. But then, I ruined it because [for] the rest of my high school career, I didn’t get it unless I was out of town.”

In retrospect, Pomilia regrets not being straightforward with her parents. “I actually think that, had I asked my parents or said, ‘Here’s what I’m planning to do,’ it would’ve been a lot better than what actually happened when I got caught,” she said. “I realize that consequences are actually worse than being told no or having to compromise.”

However, Pomilia realizes that rebellion is a normal part of growing up. “If you are going to decide to sneak out, go to a party where you feel safe and people are going to make good decisions,” she said. “As long as that rebellion is with people who are good influences, I think it’s okay.” Reflective of her cheerful weekly warnings, Pomilia’s last bit of advice is this: “Rebel safely.