The Class of 2023
Change is a part of life that is simply inevitable. It is your age, where you live, who your friends are, and to assume the present you live in is set in stone is to show a lack of understanding of our world around us. Whether you are one who welcomes change or tries to stop it, it must be accepted. Freshman year is an experience unlike any other one must face in order to move on with high school.
Coming from eighth grade, an incoming freshman might find themselves overwhelmed with more hours of homework, a tougher physics and geometry class, or the prospect of college becoming nearer and nearer.
When interviewing a returning freshman Saint about whether they believed the middle school helped prepare them for high school, Zara Vetter said “I think it did for the most part, it really helped me with study skills especially for the finals.”
Jack Murphy thought he did not feel much impact from the middle school, commenting, “I don’t see in a way that middle school could have prepared me. Maybe taught me to be more independent, I was always an independent person, but in high school everything is kinda like, by yourself, so I guess in that way middle school helped me.”
With a new echelon of school, come new pressures. The pressure of college is not as prevalent as it is in the other grades, however, it hides quietly in the background. Some relevant stresses include the issue of fitting in, high school romantic relationships, and the drama that seems to come with everything.
Carolina Warring thought pressure was not high at all saying, “No, not really. I feel like everyone here is really welcoming and doesn’t really judge you if you do or don’t have good grades.”
The movie High School Musical is a Disney classic that was created to depict the lives of students in high school. There are cliques who keep the two main characters apart and stick to the “status quo,” a rule which makes sure everyone sticks to their groups and their labels.
New student Andrew Lasarski thinks the freshman grade is “pretty cliquey” but he believes “everyone was very nice at first, all the time, but very welcoming.”
Claire McConnel agreed by saying “I think everybody has their separate groups but there is really a great unity and being friendly to everyone, despite maybe being comfortable with certain people, everybody was super friendly.”
Freshmen Point of View - Lauren Irish:
As a freshman myself, I have found this year to be a wild one so far. If I were to compare ninth grade to something it would be a giant mountain. While the comparison of a mountain is overused, I feel as though it truly describes this year. You start off as a newly graduated eighth grader gawking up at the summit which is high school graduation and a great GPA with a feeling of hopelessness and thoughts of failure swirl around your head. However, you step forward accepting the challenge and reach your chalked hands to the first grab, pulling your weight forward. As you climb the first portion, you will
A huge part of the student experience falls on the faculty and what they bring to the table. Coaches, teachers, advisors, and even admins play a huge role in the lives of students and, more specifically, freshmen. Freshman enter highschool from their previous middle school and have no idea what they’re in for. You’re now 14 or 15 in a school of older kids, who are more experienced in the community in more ways than one. And who better to turn to than the adults in the building? We interviewed two faculty in our community who fall on two very different sides of the spectrum. One tends to deal with sports related things on and off the fields/courts and the other deals with students when it comes to diversity and equity. These two wonderful faculty members, Ms. Davis and Coach Chip, both have freshman advisories as well. When speaking with them both, I was able to get a sense of some of the challenges and trends seen in freshman class as well as getting their take on what the freshman experience looks like in their eyes for students of different backgrounds. Here's what they had to say.
Indi: Being a coach at SSSAS how do you see the interactions with the freshman class amongst one another and other grades?
Coach Chip: From an athletic standpoint, I think they could do a little more to buy into the program with regard to supporting one another. I think freshmen can get involved a little bit more, and I want to push them to do that. To support each other. I think they are becoming friends inside the classroom, but if you’re talking about extracurriculars then they need to do a better job of supporting one another. How we push them in that direction, I don't know yet. I think what we’re doing with the student life and having competitions against the classes is helping the freshman class merge. But how do we get the freshman to get involved in bigger things beside themselves as a class?
Indi: How do you see them interact with their captains or seniors? Do they look up to them or is there a lack of respect?
Coach Chip: I think we have really good junior and senior leadership. And for lack of a better word we don't have any elitist. They don’t think their above the freshman, and they do a good job of wrapping their arms around the freshman and bringing them along and showing them the way. As opposed to, we don't do these things but hazing or putting them down or making them feel as if they are beneath us (coaches and captains). I've noticed that across the board from girls basketball, to football, and even at Sleepy Thompson the crowd was a little more jumbled rather than freshman at the top, sophomore, juniors, etc.
Indi: When your advisees comes to you about classes, homework, time management,etc, what seems to be the trend?
Coach Chip: I think freshman year is always a big shock to the system. Research papers tend to be the trend as there's deadlines, works cited, first drafts, second drafts. I think that's a big issue with freshman, learning how to bite off little pieces of the pie in one sitting and understanding the process as opposed to taking it all on at once.
Ms. Davis: (Diversity and equity perspective, when engaging with students of color)
Indi: Talk to me a little bit about your freshman advisory.
Ms. Davis: This is my first year with advisory. I've never had an advisory even though I ran the transitions program. I had them kind of like an advisory but they were always a mixed group of students. I think that they're earnest and a little bit anxious as kind of restarting on the ladder of freshman to seniors. Which then seems to lead to social anxiety not really knowing what to expect. So I spend a lot of time trying to prepare them for what's next. Whether it's academic or social what's to come. We have a lot of prep talk here. Pep talk and prep talk!
Indi: So I know that you have pretty good relationships with some of the upperclassmen students of color especially when it comes to talking about their experiences at SSSAS. What do those conversations look like with the freshman? Do you have the same relationships?
Ms. Davis: I don't see the same trend when it comes to the freshman, I don’t know if it’s hesitation, especially coming from our middle school. It’s a very different environment and the middle school is a lot more insulated. You have less freedom in middle school. In a sense it's like they don't know what they don't know. And so what I see is a progression as the kids get older and start to become more aware. I think generally for 9th graders, we tend to view them as 3rd trimester 8th graders as opposed to freshman solely because they're still trying to become acquainted with the school community. The older you get, the more you're able to articulate and see things for what they actually are. So I don’t think it's as much that the freshmen are hesitant to come and speak with me, I think it's that they have yet to come across the same issues.
ADVICE FROM THE SAINTS COMMUNITY
Relationships when entering high school are changing drastically whether it’s a relationship with friends, teachers, families, or the school community as a whole. Friendships specifically can be one of the biggest challenges for freshmen to navigate.
Friendships are always changing because you’re always meeting new people. Freshman year specifically is a time when friendships change a lot due to new students that join the community and the students from middle school that leave to join another. Senior Mary-Adeline offers advice on branching out and making new friends, “Don’t wait until your senior year to get to know other groups of people. I feel like I made that mistake of waiting till the last year to branch out.” Mary-Adeline also explains the difficulty of saying goodbye to people because they are no longer good for you.
Coach Koroma explains this further, “high school is a new opportunity for you to branch out and meet new people and leave the past, middle school hurts, friendships behind you. Kind of like a fresh start and not carrying some of that baggage that may have existed you know from your middle school into your high school experience.”
Family dynamics freshman year will also be changing, especially if you have a younger or older sibling. Senior Mary Adeline offers her perspective as a younger sister, “If you have an older sibling who's going to college and you're a freshman and you're going to have to say goodbye to them soon...Just cherish your time with your siblings because you don't know how much time you're gonna have with them... Also, your parents, I know they're annoying but they do a lot for you.”
Freshmen are not only entering high school with your middle school friends, but also meeting new students. This creates a new dynamic to the freshman class which at times can be difficult to appreciate. Becoming friends with your class early on in high school will make everyone's experience much more enjoyable. The sooner your grade can come together and respect each other the stronger the community will be. Andrew Knops offers insight on enjoying high school and the people in your class, stating,“When these seniors get up for chapel and say that the next four years are gonna go by really quickly, actually listen to them because they're right and you don't realize they’re right until second semester of your senior year and you're sitting here with people you’d consider your friends and it's like, ‘dang I only got three months left and there's a fair chance I’ll never see these people’.”
Getting involved is a great way to meet new people when entering high school. It allows you to meet upperclassmen and try something new. Carter Campbell explains, “Honestly, do what interests you. High school is all about finding your interests. Alright? So go through highschool with an open mind.”
Coach Koroma explains this further when saying, “My advice to freshmen would be to maximize their experiences as early on as they can; join a club, try out for a sports team, join the Lit Mag. Don't wait until your junior or senior year if there's something you know you're interested in potentially trying. There’s no reason you shouldn’t try it when you're a freshman.
Freshman year can be stressful and it's important to reach out when you need help. Seniors Sylvie and Alice remind the freshman to not sweat the small stuff. Senior Sylvie says, “Work hard freshman year because those are the easiest A’s you’re gonna get all of highschool, but also as you go up don’t worry as much.” Alice agrees with Sylvie’s advice and adds, “Don't worry about the things you can't control.”
Ms. Nadler reminds freshman to reach out academically when saying, “This is so cliche, everyone says this, but meet with your teacher. Don’t wait until you feel too stressed.”
Senior Nick G takes a different approach advising freshmen to reach out in all aspects of life, “Just know it's ok to ask for help when you need it whether it's in school or just dealing with stuff in life just know that it's ok to get help.”