Ramaz Helps Freshmen Acclimate Despite the Unprecedented Times


Rebecca Kalimi '23

Neither grade began the school year the way they had in prior years. The challenges of Covid-19 posed unique challenges for the class of 2024. The freshmen had to learn how to acclimate to the ways of high school during the pandemic. While the administration is working hard to make the student experience more normal, they have to work extra hard to make sure the freshmen have a smooth transition to a new school. 

Dr. Aharon, the freshmen grade dean, has been at the center of this effort to help freshmen adapt to their first year of high school.  about her experiences with this situation. Dr. Aharon mentioned that this year,  freshman advisors met with the freshmens’ parents earlier in the summer to build connections, especially considering the special conditions this year.   Dr. Aharon and Rabbi Dov, the director of student activities for the Upper School, planned a multitude of virtual activities during freshmen orientation week to provide a space for them to socialize and to “bring them into the larger Ramaz community” said Dr. Aharon. She and Rabbi Dov also tried to reexamine the freshmen orientation program to ensure that the incoming grade would feel comfortable, supported, and inspired, despite the restrictions of the pandemic. Dr. Aharon also mentioned that the freshmen have a large support team including their faculty advisers, senior advisers, guidance department, teachers, Rabbi Dov, and, of course, herself. Most importantly, she noted that students in the upper grades also helped to welcome the freshmen by encouraging them to join numerous clubs and get them excited about high school. Simone Shatzkes ‘24, a freshman from Great Neck from North Shore middle school, said that although this is a huge transition, the teachers and senior advisors have been extremely helpful in making her feel comfortable in school. Shatzkes added, “I wish things could be normal, but I know that there is nothing that anyone could do.” Even though many were skeptical that senior advisers would be ineffective since their senior operations with freshmen were taking place over Zoom. During the senior advisor training sessions, senior advisers were briefed on the diverse circumstances this year and were taught to make extra effort to connect with the freshmen, even over Zoom. Michal Seinfeld ’21 who was a senior advisor this year said, “I feel that input from a student on school and student life is a completely different perspective than from teachers”. Seinfeld added that the transition from middle school to high school can be difficult and that she wanted to be there to help ease the transition for the incoming freshmen. Seinfeld found the sessions that  Dr. Aharon, Rabbi Dov, and Ms. Bernfeld held to be helpful, but felt that Zoom did pose a barrier to casual interactions since people had the ability to mute themselves and turn their cameras off    Dr. Aharon also noted that this year’s theme, “Rise Together”, speaks to freshmen resiliency, and determination to move forward. “When the Class of 2020 graduated in June, it left us at 75%. Now that the freshmen have joined us, we are complete and truly have the full force to “Rise Up”.”