The Rampage

A Fresh Start: Adjusting as a Freshman

Rebecca Massel

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Over summer vacation, dominating eighth graders have to learn how to transform into bottom-of-the-food-chain freshmen. The adjustment creates many challenges for the incoming students, and the new freshmen are handling this transition in different ways.

The Ramaz Upper School is known for its strive for academic excellence. This can cause stress for some students who consider the tests, grades and workload the most concerning part of the Upper School. Many students were anxious when they received the test schedule for the entire first semester during the first week of school. Some, on the other hand, appreciated the ability to plan ahead. Jacob Davis ’21 said, “I didn’t feel nervous [receiving the test schedule so early] because I like to know about my tests a week or more in advance.” Freshmen also struggle to open lockers, understand the rotating schedule, find classes, navigate the stairwells and get to class on time.

Another challenge for the new students is making friends and feeling integrated into the school. This year’s freshmen class is made up of 102 students from over twenty schools in the five boroughs, New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester and Long Island. New students face the particular challenge of integrating into a class that’s around 50% Ramaz Middle School graduates. Sara Kagan ’21 said, “It’s different being in an environment where you don’t know anyone.” After having the same school friends in elementary and middle school, some students find it challenging to make new friends.

There are, however, a variety of ways for the new freshmen to meet one another. The two-day orientation enabled the freshmen to both socialize with old friends and make new ones. In the “iPhone Age”, people meet and get to know each other through Instagram, Snapchat or grade WhatsApp group chats. According to Charles Spielfogel ’21, “[Social media] helps you talk to kids and get to know them more.” Dr. Aharon, the Freshman Grade Dean, encourages students to connect during lunch, homeroom and Shabbatons. She says, “Be involved in the Ramaz community beyond the classroom — join clubs and come to chesed programs!”

Many freshmen have also become friends with upperclassmen who are available and willing to support them. Each freshman was assigned a senior advisor, who dedicated his or her time to making sure that the new students felt adjusted. Adam Vasserman ’21 said, “It made me feel like I was gaining an entry into super cool friendships!” Michal Seinfeld ’21 said that on the bus she can always “ask older kids for help with homework.”

Ramaz tries to get the freshmen excited to be part of the school in ways other than just orientation. “Ramaz swag”, including laptop cases, phone pockets and t-shirts, was distributed to new students to create school spirit. Jacob Kadoe ’21 said that he is excited for the “sports teams, clubs and breaks.” Many freshmen are enthusiastic about being in a school which, according to Adam Vasserman ’21, is “bigger, faster, stronger, and more productive” than their middle schools.

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The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School