Freshman cohort system creates division



This year, 9th graders moved off campus to the Old Lincoln School due to overcrowding. Many freshmen feel isolated on the separate campus and hope for more time as a full grade.

My transition to high school was in the front of my mind as we selected our classes in March. I was handed a thick and intimidating course catalog, and it finally hit me that next year, I wouldn’t be returning to Lawrence as I had been for the past eight years. Throughout this past summer, I pondered about my first days of high school. Would it be one of the cliche experiences I had seen in about every high school movie created? Or would it be the complete opposite? Somewhere in between?

The thing about my high school freshman year that I knew was that it wouldn’t fit the stereotypical high school experience, where giant seniors roam the halls and freshmen shrink into corners. Butterflies swarmed inside my stomach walking into the BHS Campus on my first day of school. This day was unlike all my other days this school year, as I am a member of the Blue cohort and start at the OLS Campus every day.

My unusual first year of high school has had both its pros and cons, and personally, my biggest complaint is the separation of the two cohorts, Red and Blue. Unlike the Blue cohort, the Red cohort starts eight every ten days at the 115 Greenough campus. The Blue cohort starts the day with their academic classes, while the Red cohort starts with their electives on those eight days. This means that on most days, freshmen cannot easily walk to or from school with their friends in the opposite cohort, let alone have the pleasure of sharing classes or lunches. Especially in the first quarter of the year when students are adjusting to their new school, students would most likely feel much more comfortable with the presence of their closest friends from middle school. For the next grade experiencing the freshmen separation, I would recommend to schedule lunches so that the two cohorts overlap.

Many freshmen despise being separated from their older friends and would strongly prefer spending their whole day at 115 Greenough. Students have been becoming accustomed to the orientation of OLS, but this will have no significance as we will not be returning in future years, and instead, will have to put much more effort into becoming accustomed to a relatively confusing building.

On nine of the ten-day schedule, freshmen in the Blue cohort walk over to BHS. Although the walk can be uncomfortable because of temperature or loads students are carrying, our schedules allot 20 minutes for transitioning. However, the walk over takes much less time, providing freshmen with a few minutes before class to gather themselves and take a breather. According to Google Maps, the route freshmen follow takes 11 minutes, but I’ve always found Google Maps to be cautious. However, with colder weather, more and more students have been pining for a spot on the bus, so hiring another bus would help majorly. Recently, a lottery system was enacted. Students who want a spot on the bus from OLS to BHS filled out a form and after picking up a bus pass, those accepted can ride on the bus. Many students regret not signing up for a bus spot as the weather is becoming increasingly cold. These bus passes will expire, and a new lottery will be instated.

The food provided at OLS has left an impression to be overpriced and not particularly tasty. “I want to stop eating red meat, fried potatoes, and soggy chicken,” student representative Lucas Dela Paz complained. The lunch options at 115 Greenough are much more diverse and exciting. Many freshmen look forward to the two times a week when they can buy lunch at the BHS cafeteria. Next year, I would recommend providing freshmen with more opportunities to eat at 115 Greenough and improving the lunch options at the OLS cafeteria.

For those ending at 115 Greenough in the Blue cohort, it can be impractical to meet with teachers after school who are still at OLS, especially if students have prior commitments such as sports that meet immediately after school. Similarly, for students in the Red cohort, it is particularly difficult to meet with teachers before school considering they have to travel back to 115 Greenough for the first period. This is even more difficult for freshmen taking a Z-block class. Unfortunately, there is not much that could help to fix this problem except teachers being understanding of students’ schedules (which, for the most part, teachers are doing already).

“If I’m being honest, I feel like I’m still in eighth grade and haven’t left middle school,” Phoebe Shay explained. Her opinion is a common one because of the separation of freshmen from upperclassmen. Many freshmen were nervous about their transition to high school, but OLS almost feels like it wasn’t enough of a change.

Though freshmen’s overarching perspective on OLS may never change, there are a couple of actions that could be taken to help improve our overall experience. First, to improve the transition between OLS and BHS, making another bus accessible to students would be extremely helpful as currently, we only have one. That way, students could have the option to opt-out of traveling through uncomfortable weather. Secondly, teachers could be more understanding that students aren’t always able to meet before or after school because of the separate campuses and after school commitments. Recently,

For better or for worse, the freshmen’s experience at OLS will never be the same as the one they would have at BHS. In most aspects, our experience feels inferior and separate. Although we are technically in high school, we are stuck in an in-between stage that feels more like junior high. However, the workload does not match that of the typical junior high experience. Most of all, freshmen wish they were living the freshman year that had been building up in their expectations, or the closest to that possible.