Morgan Tracy '22

Becoming a Part of a Different Community: A New Freshman

By Tori Carr '20

June 2019 Profile Issue 

Everyone at one point or another has been new to something. Whether it be a sports team, club, or job, being new can be intimidating and, at times, isolating. Most students at our school came from the middle school, and there are many well-known stories, however, the freshman experience for students who are brand new to SSSAS are stories that are not as widely known.

 

Morgan Tracy is one of those new freshmen this year, a member of the class of 2022. Morgan came from Congressional School, which is in Falls Church, where there were approximately 30 students in her entire class, a significant difference from our classes with over 100 students in each grade. She did go to a public elementary school, but even so, there were only around 50 children in her grade. She was not hesitant to go to a larger school, and she even considered T.C. Williams, but she was still uncertain how she would fit into a community where you may not know everyone that you see in the hallway.

 

Morgan thinks that the social aspects shape her freshman experience more than anything. As the first day of school rolled around, Morgan had to deal with the dilemma of where to sit during lunch. She explained, “I knew people through orientation, so I followed them instantly. I sorta inserted myself in. I’m still friends with them, so I’m thankful that happened.” She eats in Steve and Aggies, which is filled with freshmen; however, she angrily detests the unwritten rule that freshmen don’t sit in the cafeteria.

 

Morgan knew only three people from St. Stephen's when she arrived. She knew one person from camp and two from Congressional. Her older brother, Graham, went to St. Stephen’s and graduated last year. Morgan noted that her brother was very successful here - earning a national award whose purpose is unknown to Morgan and taking three math classes his senior year. She was worried to come to a school after such an accomplished sibling had graduated the year before. She explained, “He left a real impression on a lot of the teachers here, and then I show up” taking Algebra I.

 

Despite her concern, Morgan says “academically wise, I trusted that the school was placing me in classes that I would do well in.” She was placed in an advanced French class, French 3 Honors. She explained that she felt a little out of place and was left thinking “what am I doing here.” At Congressional, she found it easy to get good grades without putting in too much effort; however, she says about doing well at SSSAS, “if you actually pay attention in class, [but] if you don’t go out of the classroom to meet with you teacher, you’ll mess up. You really have to be careful about how you manage your time.” Being proactive about her grades is a goal of hers that she hopes to achieve by the end of her high school career.

 

Morgan has aspirations to become part of the Honorary and Disciplinary Board and wants to have a leadership role in our community, but would never consider running for school government due to her overwhelming stage fright. Morgan is also part of the volleyball and softball teams. Becoming part of the volleyball team before school started was one struggle that Morgan did not anticipate. She felt like she was “fresh meat” and thought, “what am I doing here. I had no idea where to go.” She got lost, and was unable to find the gym, adding to her anxiety. As far as her role on the softball team, she wants to have a leadership position in the coming years because she has a drive to improve and make softball her niche.

 

Extracurriculars and academics are notably important, with French being her favorite subject. She explains that she loves French because it’s different and “it’s something in a whole other world even though it’s still in the same world. The culture and the norm in France is different than the norm in America.” Physics is her least favorite subject because “it’s so difficult and it’s also kinda discouraging when you try so hard at something and then you still get a really bad grade.” Morgan additionally says that the history (World History) and math classes (Algebra I - which she had already taken) come easy to her, and has a lot of fun in art. Morgan is Episcopalian and enjoys taking New Testament. She thinks “it’s really interesting because the New Testament takes on a point of view where it’s like coming in from more of a logical side, and it does make you really question the texts of the Bible.”

 

The hardest part of being a new freshman, and definitely the most nerve wracking part, is finding friends. Morgan jumped around friend groups the first few months of school. She said, “I felt really lost a lot because I didn’t know where I was going; I didn’t know where I was going to end up. A lot of times when I sat down with someone, I thought: is this it for me? Is this going to be my best friend throughout high school? I don’t really know why I always thought that, always came to that conclusion.” However, she found that she has moved on from that mentality and now has a more open perspective on the fluidity of relationships that change throughout high school. “A lot of times I would find myself not really wanting it. I was thinking: I don’t really want this to be the same for all four years. I’ve learned that I don’t really need to worry about that being here for the first few months. I get it now. Don’t worry about it; it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to.”

 

Morgan has a solid friend group now, but around December she began to contemplate dropping out of St. Stephens’. The combination of stress from school, feeling displaced, and a shifting group of friends made her wonder if she could handle it. Insecurities and judgement play a role in every high schooler’s experience, and she admitted, “I was always wondering what people were thinking about me, and I’m realizing now that that doesn’t really matter. It was hard to remember that because I didn’t have an exact friend group at the time. It’s easier to think, ‘I don’t care what people think about me’ when you have friends to fall back on. Because at the time I didn’t.”

 

Morgan did struggle to find her place in high school in the first couple months, like any new student, but she found that balancing academics, extra-curriculars, and friends all come with their own struggles and rewards. She says that “high school, in general, is about growing up,” which Morgan explained while she looked at her friends hopefully. She seemed like she had finally found her place after struggling through the beginning of the year. She laughed with her friends during our interview, and they even contributed to explaining the strifes of being a freshman. Although it may not stay consistent, everyone adapts to being new. Everyone finds their place.