Getting fresh with the freshmen

Flynn Gorman, Contributing Writer

Embarking on a new experience can be challenging on many levels, as the 100 freshmen have just joined the Upper School this fall can confirm. 40 of them are completely new to PDS, and the school has tried to prepare them for what lies ahead. But what has a freshman’s start at a new school really been like?

“I remember every moment of my first day. I was so nervous the entire time,” said freshmen president Shai Fruchter. “I just moved here from Israel; my old school was tiny! We didn’t have any sports or fields, or anything like that. I only had seven kids in my grade. It’s definitely a big change.”

The experience was easier for freshman Will Scarlett, though he found the Upper School confusing at first. “I think after the first week I felt like I really fit in. I just wish they could have told us where the senior tables were, and how to work the lunch line. I was so confused about that,” he said.

Looking back on her freshman year, sophomore Hallie Hoffman thinks the teachers did a great job of showing freshmen ways to study. “A big thing they did for me is that they were always there if there was something I didn’t understand. I really enjoyed freshman year! I miss the feeling of being in Shepherd in the mornings with my classmates,” said Hoffman.

Freshman Class Dean Carlos Cara also feels like PDS does a good job of helping students adjust to the Upper School.

“I don’t think it’s one thing that they do. It is a number of subtle things that they do. You have orientation, which gets you to mingle and that kind of gets the ball rolling. A program that has incredible value is Peer Group. When I saw you guys at the Battle Field—that was about six weeks into the year—it seemed as though you were getting along and had known each other for years. Are there are ways that maybe the school can question the processes and events? Absolutely. Mr. Robinson is having conversations about the ‘freshmen experience’ and how to improve that for freshmen in every way,” said Mr. Cara.

 Ninth graders who are still trying to find their way, should listen to Student Counselor Rob Tuckman’s advice: “Take your time! Transitioning into a new environment like PDS takes time, and everyone’s timeline is different. Pace yourself, take deep breaths when you need to come up for air, and enjoy the moment. Remember that there are wonderful people at the school readied to help in any way. Don’t be intimidated by that, if you have questions or are looking for direction, just ask, we’ve been in your shoes before.”
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