What’s it like to be a new student at Heathwood? Senior Rachel Shelley decided to find out, and started her investigations in the ECLC and Lower School. Here’s her report:
Shepherd Disasa is four years old, and like the other kids in her E3 class, she’s new at Heathwood. She and her classmates are just a few of the 86 new students on Heathwood’s campus; some started in August, some in November, and some as recently as January. Heathwood has long prided itself on being a welcoming community, and this is especially true with our youngest students.
Going to school for the first time can be daunting. Shepherd and Dylan Dojc don’t remember their first day of school, but now they’ve gotten in the swing of things, their days filled with exciting lessons and fun challenges. Because the two like to learn new things, Shepherd and Dylan spend lots of time reading books, and say some of their favorites are books about dogs. When they aren’t busy learning, Shepherd and Dylan like to spend lots of time playing with their many friends. All of the kids in Shepherd and Dylan’s class are new, and they found it easy to quickly make friends. The two also enjoy Spanish class; Shepherd says this is because she likes to learn new words, Dylan because Señora Rosa “lets us get the snake.” He doesn’t clarify this point for me, but he is incredibly excited talking about the Spanish snake.
Starting a new school is scary, because, as second grader Mateo Jonell tells me, “it’s hard to make new friends because you think they aren’t going to like you.” Mateo, who has lived in England and Nebraska, has plenty of friends now; he and the other students I interviewed all rattled off lists of their newfound friends. Chavis Kelley and O’Neal Scippio III, second graders in a different class, met at the new student orientation in August and have become fast friends. Meeting their new classmates on the first day of school was a little nervewracking, but their fears quickly disappeared when their classmates welcomed them before the teacher even introduced them.
One thing that set Heathwood apart for Mateo was just how spread apart his classes are: now, instead of “walking through the whole building,” he walks around a growing campus to get to PE, recess, and lunch. Chavis and O’Neal are particularly excited about lunch, as “you have lots of time for lunch,” Chavis explains, while O’Neal adds that he now gets to pick his own lunch, and play on a bigger playground. The second graders spend time after school in art club, science club, and a Heathwood feature, PEAK; things that their old schools didn’t offer.
Going to a new school in the middle of the year may be hard, but that’s what third graders Annabelle Farber and Sophie Chen did. Annabelle came in November after Thanksgiving, and said that she felt welcomed immediately when her new classmates offered to show her around or invited her to sit at their table. Sophie echoed this sentiment, saying that while she was nervous, she was happy to make new friends as easily as she did. Heathwood is different from their last schools because as Sophie puts it, “[Heathwood] feels like it’s college,” and Annabelle agrees, chiming in to add that at her old school they sat in chairs not bouncy stability balls. (As a senior, I can only hope to have stability balls instead of chairs in college). They also agree that longer lunch, PE every day, and Chapel set Heathwood apart from their old schools.
While it is still early in the second semester, the start of next year will be upon us soon, and so I asked each student what they were most looking forward to in the next year. I got a variety of answers, but one common theme was excitement to learn new things, and of course make new friends.