By Danielle Thai
The first day of school has arrived; students are trudging off the bus trying to find their first period class through the maze of hallways as the upperclassmen tower over them. For some this is their second year but for others this is an overwhelming start.
High school is nerve-racking for most incoming freshmen because of the more difficult curriculum, the people that are in their classes, and the worries of college.
Eighth graders have imagined what high school will be like from stories they have heard, the media and books they have read. A stereotypical scenario of high school is a nerd who is wearing a plaid shirt, suspenders, socks up to his knees, inch-thick glasses, and books in his hand getting shoved into a locker by a buff football player. But this is rarely, if ever, the reality.
Most incoming freshmen have fears that are insignificant and are typically connected to their social life.
Many incoming freshmen have “the fear of the unknown” and they “stress about possibilities that won’t happen,” said Mrs. Manuela Harwich, a guidance counselor at Holliston High School.
Every year the high school and the middle school coordinate a day where the Peer Leaders give the incoming freshmen tours. The students are broken into small groups for the tour and “the Peer Leaders answer questions, point out different things like clubs and activities that are available, the culture of the high school, and expectations,” stated Mrs. Harwich.
Peer Leaders are juniors and seniors who provide assistance and support on school issues to their peers.
A couple of groups of Peer Leaders also went to the 8th grade wellness classes and talked about life at the high school and answered any questions they had.
Students are also more worked up about going into high school because “the stakes are higher in terms of the future,” said Mrs. Harwich.
Sophomore Katie Carchidi said the pace of the day in high school is “a lot quicker and you move around more” since the classes are in different parts of the school.
Carchidi’s suggestion to the incoming freshmen is to “use your map” and “don’t be afraid of the upperclassmen because they are friendly.”
Sophomore Caroline Lucy’s advice to incoming freshmen is to “watch out for four corners… there is no way to avoid it because it’s the quickest way to get to class.” Four corners is a congested, hectic intersection of hallways where students either push through to break free or get shoved around trying to find a way out.
She also stated that the room numbers are “all messed up” and students don’t usually know room numbers but “they know which room it is if you say who the teacher is.” The room numbers start at 108 then jump to 300 and continue on. There also are missing room numbers, for example there is no room 610 or 620. Generally the science rooms are found in the 300s, the math wing is in the 400s, and the rooms on the second floor, which are generally English history or foreign language classes, start in the 600s.
The high school also offers programs to help ease the transition. These programs include the Drop-In Center and Advisory.
The Drop-In Center is where students come together and talk about anything; it’s open on Thursdays after school until 2:45.
Advisory is held every Friday during the Designated Study Block (DSB) for freshmen and sophomores. It is a group of 9-10 students plus an advisor who offers support and guidance to students. At times a peer leader comes into an Advisory and talks about different matters such as dealing with final exams.
Senior Andrew DesRochers, remembered his transition into high school was a lot smoother then he expected. “Coming out of middle school, I expected there to be more work and having a hard time keeping up with my classes.” After settling in to high school, DesRochers said it was a lot more relaxing than middle school.
“Get involved with clubs or activities right away so you can stick with it for all of high school,” suggested sophomore, Prateek Gowda. There are clubs and activities for almost every interest. Some clubs include Model United Nations, Robotics, Student Counsel, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), WHHB Radio Station, Yearbook, Band, Chorus, Best Buddies and The Vision.
Mrs. Harwich said the best way to help stop the fear of the transition is to talk about it and to “embrace the opportunities given and you will do well.”
The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) has studied the impact of the transition on students, and found that as a result of the transition to high school students gain “time management, ability to stay on task, social skills, and behavior”
High school is not a place to fear, it is a place where students can discover their passion and their talents.