The Freshman Perspective on a New Year

By Lindsay Miller

After nearly six months of our quarantine lifestyles free of school and a daily routine, adjusting back to life as a high school student was hard for everyone. It is safe to say that those with the hardest adjustment were the freshmen, who had to learn the ways of a brand new school while also trying to grapple for a semblance of normalcy. In order to step inside their shoes and get a feel for the true stresses and experiences of freshman students thus far, I interviewed Ashley Weissman and Austin Dorfman, who provided some insight into the life of a freshman student at Byram Hills High School.

Ashley Weissman, although appreciating the new freedoms involved with the move up from the middle school, expresses her daily struggles with the new schedule and with navigating the building. Ashley stated that the “use of letters instead of numbers to label the classes in addition to the different lunch times” is overwhelming for her. She is so accustomed to her classes being consistently numbered 1-9 and to having lunch at the same time each day with the same set of peers. However, as a high school student, Ashley’s schedule not only differs per day, but each week calls for a different rotation of the days of classes. Despite this being Ashley’s main challenge so far as a freshman, she expresses her gratitude to her teachers. Ashley made it clear that her teachers were understanding of what she was going through and did not apply additional and unnecessary pressure to her and her classmates. For example, if Ashley were to enter the classroom a few minutes later than expected, her teachers would be understanding of this action that is usually a cause for discipline. In addition to the approachability and lenience of her teachers, “the factor that has had the most impact on her smooth transition to high school is [her] sister.” Ashley is lucky to have a sister, Chloe Weissman, who is a senior, to look out for her and to make sure she feels comfortable walking the halls of a brand new school. Chloe is constantly looking for Ashley in the hallway to offer a smile, a wave, or other comforting gestures to make her feel supported, yet “plenty of other upperclassmen have been friendly,” as Ashley happily elaborated. Through this interview with Ashley, it was clear that the Byram Hills community is able to make a difference in helping freshmen even in small ways. 

Learning the schedule, adjusting to the new building, and meeting new teachers are a few of the common obstacles that incoming freshmen face each year. However, this year is certainly not like other years. Through my interview with another member of the class of 2024, I saw that the reality of being a freshman in the face of the Coronavirus is quite unique. Austin Dorfman offers his view on the online school lifestyle in comparison to going to school in person, in addition to his take on the brand new schedule. Austin expresses his contentment with both online school and in-person formats. In terms of eLearning, Austin is glad to be getting “the same learning experience” as his classmates on the other side of the google meet and does not feel as though the screen interferes with his ability to learn. Although the learning experience does not differ, it is the “social aspect” of going to school that he wishes he was not missing out on for half of the week. Google Meets and Zoom classes will never compare to the true atmosphere of the Byram Hills community that is so vibrant as you walk the hallways. For the limited time we are in school, I encourage you to make conscious efforts to reach out to others and spread your Byram pride, especially to the future of our school, the freshmen!