The new kid

Brandon Rakowski, Staff Writer

I’m not sure what I expected on August 31st, 2012. A hero’s welcome? No – something worse.  I had seen the movie before, streamed it a thousand times over in my head. I’d lumber through the door to Bedford Middle School greeted by hushed giggles, words that stuck like stones. I’d probably pee my pants too – drawbacks of being the new kid.

Three years later I can safely say that my pants remained unsoiled. But the greeting I got when I entered the Westport School District stung more than humiliation – nobody noticed I was there.

No one said hello. None of the administration bothered to check in. I ate lunch in the bathroom, slumped dejectedly on a toilet seat cover. I felt lost in an ever-growing mass of anonymous faces. I honestly considered leaving; we weren’t even four weeks in.

This isn’t some sob story, though. Things changed pretty quickly. I started doing what I loved, singing in choir, raising my hand in the classroom. Today, that mass of anonymous faces is a collection of stories, a collection of friends.

Things worked out for me. But we cannot expect the same for other new students.  We need to make sure that new kids have access to a support structure that attempts to integrate them into the school community. There are proven ways of doing this – assigning student and faculty “buddies,” encouraging and introducing new kids to clubs and teams that focus on their individual interests. Regardless of which programs we choose, a renewed emphasis must be placed on assuring that new students don’t get lost in the fray.

After nearly every mass shooting from Columbine to Newtown, the media has emphasized the quiet, awkward lifestyles the shooters lived. Often times administrators and parents are accused of letting these kids slip through the cracks.  We cannot do the same to ours.

Principal Dodig has declared that his number one goal is to make sure that every Staples student enjoys his or her time here. He’s done his best to achieve that goal, I have not met anyone who cares about a student body as much as he does.  But there is still work to be done. Every day students at Staples struggle to be…happy.

Their names weren’t on Yik Yak, nor have their achievements been lauded on the loudspeaker.

In fact – you’ve probably never heard of them at all.

Editor’s Note: Brandon has moved to Weston, CT, and is once again the new kid.