A lens on freshman year


Colin Henke

From left Lorrayne De Souza, Marsha Stewart, Zachary Utz, Graham Sterns, Senior Ian Trance, and freshman Sean Splittberger engage in a senior led group circle discussion.

Lily Sebastian, Anabelle Biggs, and Ava Vought

At some point, many graduating eighth graders have the epiphany that their eighth grade diploma has cost them their seniority. The start of high school, in an unfamiliar building with new people, can be daunting for some and exciting for others. This year’s freshman class has been busy getting to know their teachers, experimenting with extracurriculars, and meeting new people — many have found, or are on their way to finding, their place.

A big factor in the transition is getting to know students from different elementary schools. Freshman Sam Fetters said, “Most of us are used to having 250 people in the school, not 650.”

Programs like S.T.I.N.G. (Students Transitioning Into Ninth Grade), which is focused on gathering eighth graders from all of the schools for a day in the spring in order to let the students get to know one another before they enter high school, help to relieve stress and facilitate unity.

Freshman Finn Lewis said, “I’m still good friends with the same kids as last year, plus a bunch of new friends. It’s great.”

Many of the freshman class shared worry about upperclassmen, cliques, and academics. Many students were pleasantly surprised to find that their worries were irrational.

For freshman Charlie Lakis, initial worries diminished within the first week of school. He said, “I thought that the upperclassmen would be a lot more intimidating, but most of them aren’t at all.”

“Since MVRHS is a mix of kids from all of the different schools across the Island, I expected it to be awkward and for there to be cliques,” said freshman Ingrid Moore. “But I haven’t really found that to be true. What I have noticed is that old friendships have changed a lot.”

A common way freshmen choose to help orient themselves is by joining a club or sports team. Playing a fall sport allows ninth graders to adjust to the high school climate prior to the first day of school. Hell Week is an intense period of practices leading up to the start of high school that gives freshman athletes the opportunity to meet new teammates in all grades.

Freshman Silas Abrams is a member of the golf team. He said, “As a freshman, joining high school sports can be a lot less stressful walking into high school, because you get to know people in all different grades.”

Finn is also a member of the golf team. He said, “Throughout a [sports] season, you can really get to know different people, which comes in handy in high school.”

A common prediction among the ninth graders was that the academics would be more taxing than they had experienced before. “The teachers aren’t as strict as I thought [they would be], and although the material covered can seem abundant, I feel like I’m learning a lot more,” said freshman Zachary Utz.

Zachary said, “We freshmen tend to focus more predominantly on academics and social lives, which steer us away from what really matters. It’s not all about the homework and the new or old friendships, it is about the journey we are about to take with each other for these next four years. Freshman year is just the beginning of this next chapter in our lives.”