Private to public school adjustment creates social barriers

Private to public school adjustment creates social barriers

Dana Sim, columnist

The monotone school bell gives its first emotionless warning to students: “Get to your classes or else!” Freshmen unaccustomed to the hallways of GBS are suddenly thrown into their first challenge. It’s a tradition. The smaller of the teenagers struggle to find the way to their very first class of high school.

Once the class is located, the high schoolers gather together in their cliques to reunite with friends lost to summer days. Most would strut into the class with some background knowledge of their classmates. John knows that Jake, the smart kid, will be in his history class and that Kate, the best singer from middle school, will be in his biology class.

They then break into their loud conversations.

“Did you know Hannah lost her dog last month? I just heard about how Mark dumped Carol. No way, Matthew got a new iPhone 5?”

Or at least to the freshman in the corner, it seems loud.

It was quite a culture shock for her. She didn’t know Hannah, Mark, Matthew or anyone else. To the freshmen from Attea or Springman, she was a stranger.

I was that stranger.

From kindergarten to eighth grade, I attended Christian Heritage Academy, a small school that totaled about 400 students. It was a private institution that called for expensive tuition and was grounded in Protestant teachings.

However, as time wore on the feelings of social disconnect that had overwhelmed me faded. I came to realize that despite the required theology classes and dress code, Christian Heritage Academy wasn’t that different from public schools. For one, the students were still your typical middle-schoolers. We were victims to the “Call Me Maybe” phase and found ourselves excited at the releases of the Harry Potter movies.

Just like other middle schoolers, I wanted to excel in different areas. I wanted to make new friends, learn to drive a car and complain about the difficult classes like every other teenager.

With time, I came to find my place in the halls of GBS. The little girl that sat in the corner of her first class is now writing for an award-winning newspaper.

Today, I am a Titan from Glenbrook South. Instead of being pushed away, I bring myself as close as I can to my public school student identity. Keep in mind the possibility of kids that are coming to South from private schools feeling isolated and different, and try to include them. Because in reality, we’re not all that different from the rest.