I Wasn’t Born Yesterday

1. I’m not dumb or stupid. 2. I have the ability to think and reason.

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Freshman year is a whirlwind of immense changes. Coming into high school, freshmen have a lot to worry about: from starting new classes to meeting new friends. For many freshmen, one of their biggest worries is being at the bottom of the totem pole again. Instead of making the transition from eighth grade to freshman year easier, many upperclassmen choose not to acknowledge freshmen or their accomplishments.

Typically, freshman year is the perfect opportunity to lay low. Whether it be the intimidation of upperclassmen or the fear of failure, many students choose not to get involved. Far less frequently, a freshman will walk through the doors of ACHS making it his/her goal to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

This is exactly what three freshmen in science department chair Gregory Bays’ AP Physics 1 class did; they took the road less travelled as they entered their high school career by challenging themselves in physics. Students who met a certain criteria were able to opt out of taking regular or honors physics and jump ahead to AP, a class typically reserved for seniors. Normally, students who take AP Physics 1 have at least a precalculus math background. Being only freshmen, the three students are behind the seniors in math, making it an even greater challenge.

While the freshmen might seem to have a disadvantage in the classroom, the students have learned how to adapt to the new workload. They have also adapted to being in a class with all seniors.

“Day one the seniors made jokes about the freshmen being the smart young kids,” Bays said. “Now they don’t treat them any differently. Some of the seniors have embraced them and have tried to help them out as much as they can.”

Similarly to the opportunity handed to the AP Physics 1 students, many freshmen chose to take AP Human Geography this year. Instead of taking the typical global studies freshman course, students who excel in reading and social studies could take AP Human Geography instead. This was a new opportunity handed to the freshman class this year to ensure that students were being challenged to the best of their ability.

As expected, all of the freshmen in social studies teacher Stephen Rose’s class always get their work done, participate on a regular basis and ask questions frequently. However, there are a few freshmen who are going above and beyond Rose’s expectations.

“There are a few freshmen in my class who only get one or two questions wrong on tests with averages in the 60s and 70s,” Rose said. “They are far better than my sophomores last year. They really have impressed me so far this year.”

One of Rose’s students who stuck out to him was freshman Jack Bay, who not only took a step out of his comfort zone in the classroom, but socially and athletically as well.

Immediately after starting high school, Bay joined the cross country team. He was also voted onto homecoming court in the fall by his peers. The transition from eighth grade into high school, while hard for many, was easy for Bay because of the positive connections he made right away.

“A lot of freshmen weren’t as fortunate as I was to have previous relationships with upperclassmen,” Bay said. “This is a huge reason I am so comfortable here at school. It helps a lot to have upperclassmen reach out and help the freshmen.”

While Bay was very fortunate to have upperclassmen to help him in his transition, many freshmen are left without the same advantage. Many upperclassmen, while they should be helping out the younger students, choose not to do so.

The lack of older students reaching out to the younger students is contributing to the lack of freshmen getting involved in activities. When asked to describe the freshman class, Rose responded with a one word answer: timid.

“They are always in fear of failing, but they have the ability to do amazing things,” Rose said. “One of my goals is to break my freshmen of their timidness throughout the year. Some of them are finally starting to break through the barrier.”

While Rose is taking the steps to encourage the freshmen, it should be a goal of the student body as well. In order to influence freshmen to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, it is important for upperclassmen to reach out to freshmen. Instead of spending time treating the freshmen differently at football games or booing while they do the Y-E-L-L cheer at assemblies, it is important that upperclassmen focus on building up the freshmen. Eventually, the freshmen class will become the senior class; they are the future of ACHS. From freshman year to senior year, students shape themselves into new people.

“It is fun to watch the freshmen mold into who they are,” Bays said. “From freshman year to senior year, you grow up and change a lot. I think Antioch is starting to take steps in trying to intermix all of the grades.”

The students who do take a chance and try something new end up excelling greatly, like Bay and the other AP students. It is important to take time to recognize the achievements that the underclassmen have accomplished at a young age. Getting started with a sport or an activity and succeeding should be admirable to students of all grade levels.

Age does not define a person’s capability of success. What is important is what he or she does with their time in high school, and whether they took advantage of the opportunities they were given or not. It is important for upperclassmen to remember that they were once freshmen, too. While four years is a long time, there is one thing for sure: the freshmen weren’t born yesterday.

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