By Rory Collins
School has been in session for about one month, giving everyone enough time to have officially settled in. The talk of the freshman class these first few weeks has been the new students. Every year, the freshman class at Beaver goes from the 45-ish that existed in the middle school to the 90 that now attend the upper school. I went around and asked new freshman, old freshman, and freshman teachers/advisors how they feel the new freshman handle this unfamiliar environment, or how they personally handled the difference of new faces coming in.
“I felt pretty neutral about it really, I knew I would become friends with some people and not connect with others just like any school.” Says Chawanzi Muwina ‘23, a former Beaver Middle School student, when asked how she felt about the new students. She also stated, “I knew it happened every year, and it was just a part of school and life. I feel like by now everyone who was new this year has fit in, and nobody is ever seen sitting alone because of how welcoming this community is.”
This same sentiment of a welcoming community at Beaver was also shared with new freshman Lily Recht, who when she sat down with me explained “I feel like everyone was pretty excited to meet me, and so they were super welcoming and everyone would say hi to me the first few days. After a while, I couldn’t even tell who came from the middle school, and who came for the upper school.” As a new freshman myself, I agree with her statements above. For the first few days, everyone was super friendly and once you got into the groove of it, finding your people was pretty easy. The fact that I was not here in middle school has not been a factor for me socially, because everyone wants to meet new people and have more friends.
I also spoke with some teachers at Beaver regarding the new students and how they think the freshman have been fitting in as well as how the school helps integrate the new class. Ms. Alkire was the first teacher I spoke to, who also happens to be a freshman advisor this year. When I asked her how the school tries to help new students feel welcome, she responded, “As much as the school can prepare the students from the middle school they can’t socially engineer. Every year advisors try and get a sense of the kids, and it’s different every year based on the grade.” Mr. Matsusaka, a freshman and sophomore math teacher, said something similar when I talked to him, explaining, “It depends on the year, and once the new students come in, the whole vibe of the class changes because of how many kids are new.” They both went on to say the teachers and school try and do a lot of class activities to make the new students feel welcome and create a feeling of community for the class. Ms. Alkire is also the class of ‘23 team leader and she stated that when she ran class meetings, she “tried to get a sense of activities and programs that would bring the class together and help everyone get to know each other and then use them during advisory or class meeting.”
Being new can be tough for anyone, and meeting new people is especially challenging in your teenage years. The students I interviewed, myself and presumably, many other students have felt that Beaver really tries to help everyone form a community and come together. There is no being left behind socially here because this school works hard to make you feel wanted and make you feel like it is okay to be yourself.