Fresh Priorities for Frosh: Freshmen Manage First Year Pressures

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Max Kahn ’13 is worried about moving up in classes. | Photo by John Watson ’12.

Mike Nussbaum ’11
Sports Editor

Max Kahn '13 is worried about moving up in classes. | Photo by John Watson '12.

When an English 1 Honors class was asked to describe their first semester of Staples in one word, mixed responses of “big”, “huge”, “fun”, “intense”, and “challenging” lit up the room. Halfway through their freshman year, the class of 2013 is managing the demands of high school, not only academically, but socially as well.

For many of these students, the academic changes from middle school to high school were readily evident since their first days in September. Sarah Cooperman ’13 said, “The homework was the first big change from middle school to high school,” Cooperman said. “In middle school, I could get away with doing homework five minutes before class, but now I can’t do that…the work is much harder.”

The general pulse of the freshman class agrees with Cooperman, many of whom say theit study habits have been greatly changed since entering high school, and a key contributor was the introduction of a ’free’ period. “I love having a free period to get studying done, and it also is a nice break during the day,” Henry Dumke ’13 said.

Jake Hirschberg ’13 agrees, saying, “Having a free period is great for anybody.”

But for Dumke, studying in school cannot adequately prepare him enough, he says, for classes like Biology, which he claims requires “a lot” of studying. The difficulty in Biology, Cooperman says, is the application multiple choice, which is a new struggle for many freshman.

As a result of new studying habits and tougher assessments, students such as Emily Garber ’13 say that stress is more prevalent in high school than in middle school—she notes that the introduction of late nights spent studying. “In middle school, I was able to go on the computer, talk to friends, do my homework, and get into bed by 10:30pm. But now, I find myself going to bed at 12:00am…I just have so much work.”

Besides academic challenges that freshman have faced so far, they also have adapted to the staples social scene—most obviously, the cafeteria.

“I feel like I’m forced into a freshman ghetto,” Cole DeMonico ’13 said. “I sit with only freshman in the darkest part of the cafeteria.”

“There is a hierarchy in the cafeteria…I just get out of the way,” fellow classmate Dumke said.

Even though they are placed in a so-called ’ghetto’, fellow freshman Amelia Green ’13, said the food is much better at Staples than in middle school.

“There are better smoothies and more choices from food such as a fruit bar or sandwich line,” Green said.

Aside from social interaction, or lack there of, with upperclassmen in the cafeteria, many of the freshman class feel apart of the Staples community, thanks to clubs they joined in the beginning of the semester.

Sara Zimmerman ’13 is a member of the Staples Tech Crew.

“It was one of the best choices I made, Tech Crew is amazing, I met new people from upper classes and we all shared a common interest for tech stuff,” she said proudly.

Along with Zimmerman, Cooperman joined an extra-curricular activity that developed a relationship with upperclassmen. “When people started talking about high school in middle school, there was this idea that upperclassmen were really mean…but after I joined the swim team, I learned that they were really welcoming and nice,” adding, “the swim team is really close.”

In addition to stereotypes about upperclassmen, middle schoolers often ponder about sharing classes with people from the opposite middle school, but for the students in the English class, and various other freshman thought the transition was easy.

As far as assessing their time at Staples so far, the common freshman response is added stress from academics is added to handle, but the student life is much less difficult as it was lead out to believe. Although many freshmen, such as DeMonico, miss their teachers, they have found that high school learning has been a fun but challenging experience.

“You really have to put yourself into your work in ways I didn’t in middle school,” Dumke said.

All in all, the class of 2013 has managed, as Cooperman concluded, “It’s been fun so far, and for the remainder of the year I am going to try and not stress as much…like that’s gonna happen.”