Freshmen Against the World

Rianna Gillies, a freshman at Leesville, works on a worksheet in health class. Health and Physical Education is a class that all students must take to graduate, but freshmen are often the only ones enrolled. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Gore)

While everyone’s experience is different, high school will always have a major impact on every person. Freshman year is especially memorable. Not only is it the start of the final four years at home for all those that move to dorms and attend college, it is the beginning of the future for every single student.

Because it is the start of the journey to college, lot of pressures and expectations come with freshman year. This causes ninth grade to be a vastly different experience in comparison to any other.

“The biggest difference between freshmen and upperclassmen is that freshmen are more open to new experiences…I think freshmen year is a great time to learn more about yourself while you are getting adjusted to the high school culture,” said Ashley Tabron, a Leesville English teacher.

“Years after freshman year are a lot better; you don’t get nervous about being in high school anymore, and you get to take really fun and interesting classes…but freshman year is the time to get used to high school and have a good time,” said Challis Lamart, a junior at Leesville.

Freshmen also share mixed thoughts about their experience so far.  

“To be a freshman is really hard in the first few weeks because you don’t know the school very well or the people and it’s just a completely new experience,” said Caroline Petrini-Poli, a freshman at Leesville, via text.

A major part of freshman year for many students is exploring the new learning place and finding their way around, especially those who have never been inside the school. At large schools like Leesville, ninth graders often experience feelings of intimidation and uncertainty when navigating to their classes.

As well as struggling with directions, freshmen are frequently made fun of by their older peers. Upperclassmen are known for looking down on freshmen and referring to them as the “bottom of the food chain”. Although some take offense to these remarks, several freshmen agree with the sentiment behind these comments.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that freshmen are immature. I think they’re probably spot on with that assessment, so [being looked down on] doesn’t really bother me that much,” said Nicole Arwood, another freshman at Leesville.

Although the stereotypical comments are commonly overlooked, it continues to build a divide between freshmen and the rest of the students.

Despite the fact that ninth graders have developed a negative reputation over time, many students and teachers continue to maintain open-minded attitudes towards them.

“I love teaching freshmen because I help set the foundation for their high school experience. I find that I bond the most with my freshmen students, and I love getting to see them mature and become leaders in the Leesville community,” said Tabron.

Many people view this year as the best time to create a positive foundation for the next three years. This helpful mindset from both students and teachers has helped to formulate a more welcoming place for freshmen to thrive.

Although many put hard work into making the ninth graders feel welcome, there will forever be a divide between freshmen and upperclassmen. There are many explanations for this–one of the largest might possibly be the obvious benefits an upperclassman has compared to their peers.

“A lot of the upperclassmen have more respect for you [after freshman year]…you know a lot 9of people in your classes as to freshman year where everyone was a newbie…you get more perks, like going off campus,” said Bailie Cook, a sophomore at Leesville.

“[Y]ou feel like you know the school a lot better, so you find it easier to access classes and get help…it only gets better, because later on, junior and senior year is a lot more freedom,” said Cole Corbett, a junior.  

Cook and Corbett, like many others, believe that high school is much easier after freshman year because of the privileges that older students receive. While this opinion can derive from numerous places, it continues to distinguish freshmen from all other students in high school.

Since upperclassmen often have this point of view, they tend to take a natural opposition towards the ninth graders. This will forever sustain the gap between freshmen and all other high schoolers and make freshmen year an experience different than any other.


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