I met a younger peer from the area. He claimed that others followed my lead after I decided to leave religious schools. While I did notice others did follow it was something I did not encourage or had anything to do with.
In my case, I simply never was and would not be forced, coerced into traditions I wanted no part of. I did not defy or make my actions public. Mine was more akin to just opting out. I refused to write any answers on tests and left papers blank. I did not participate in class discussions and just said modestly I don't know when called upon in religious classes. I obeyed the rules, never tried to set an example for others and just was granted my freedom. Even the Rabbi's who were prone to violent reactions did not bother to hit me. My reactions were never defiant. I did not debate theology or get into arguments. My point was this is not who I am. I respect your beliefs, but I have no desire to be a part of this community. I did not deny wrong doing that was trivial and always accepted punishment but was never subjected to violence of any kind. I remember one said "You are an affable guy. Violence wouldn't change anything and I can't make you something you aren't or never were. I told him my sole desire was to leave quietly without fanfare.
Apparently, others did notice and made similar decisions on their own. I never encouraged this or discussed my situation when formally asked. I simply walked away and never looked back. There were those who did seek me out, but I never discussed the matter or why I left. In my case, I never had the inclination nor desire to be a part of the community in any way. There was an amusing period where after I had left being a "bad boy" was irresistible to religious girls. They did frequently contact me and show their interest, but I wanted nothing to do with them. I dated girls from the local public school. For me there was no rebellion and I wanted to be away period. Dating a religious girl, would have placed me into contact with a culture that I had no desire to be a part of.
Even after the passage of years I am perplexed by the impact my actions had. I am shocked others remembered things I had forgotten. There was an odd bully who unlike a traditional one had good grades. He was a company man and I was just disinterested in the company. I remember he tried to provoke a fight and debate me. My response was "What is there to debate? I respect your views and have no interest in discussing my own" I turned my back and walked away and this person challenged me to a fight. I told him and what are we fighting over your ego. I really don't care about you or your ego and if you hit a man who has turned his back and is walking away it says more about you then me". If this persons grades were lower his mental health issues would have been noticed. I remember a crusty English teacher told that little nut job
"Don't kid yourself. He is smarter then you will ever be." The teacher demonstrated his point and that is what set off the exchange as this person never lost anything. He dated the flashiest girl. He got better grades and threw it in your face. He was a dirty player in every sport, but almost always won. In my case I had beaten him with no effort nor concern. The teacher was making a point to this arrogant jerk that he was not quite as smart as he thought he was.
When I went to leave there was a discussion. Many Rabbis predicted I would turn out to be a criminal. The crusty English teacher asked me why I was going. I merely stated "this is not who I am. I belong in public school". He pointed out " You are not a Sweat Hog" and pointed out that despite my lack of effort my grades in secular subjects were high. The Principal stated " we can not make him into something he is not".
He also pointed out that he enjoyed having me around and liked me personally. They weren't asking me to leave but as my heart was not into it it was for the best of all. There is something to the adage if you love something set it free. If it loves you it will return. In my case, I left and never looked back. I refused to fake outward appearances and just lived my own life. Oddly, the person who did turn out to be a criminal was the fellow classmate who tried to fight with me. In his case if his grades were lower his mental pathologies would have been treated. Had he spent any time in a real public school he would have gotten beaten up and learned his lesson. Oddly, he became just as secular as me and added criminality to a bad personality.
It is funny how I really don't think of those years, but others do. I don't go to reunions and prefer not to discuss those days. They are mere parts of my life story. My reaction to those who wanted to discuss the events and most had to find me was rebel against what. As I was never a part of the community my departure could not be viewed as rebellion it was merely a logical outcome. When others followed my path I avoided them and many did track me down. I pointed out I wasn't embarrassed of where I came from I merely found where I belonged. I just went on about my business and really never thought about the past I walked away from. At one point there was a girl who made a similar journey who was persistent. We dated briefly and I walked away. I had forgotten about her entirely but ...... The less said about that mishap the better.