Freshman class problems become focus of concern

December 13, 2010 — by Kyumin Shim and Ashley Tang

Although the change from middle school is always a big one, some members of this year’s freshman class seem to be having an especially difficult time with the transition, administrators and older students say.

Though the administration declined to provide details on incidents involving student discipline, freshmen said there have been several incidents involving members of their class. These incidents included sexual harassment and drugs, and the students involved have faced punishment.

While these incidents have generated rumors and drawn the most attention, there have also been concerns over the way the freshman treat each other on a broader scale. Many older students and administrators have noticed the freshmen exhibiting more bullying and rude behavior than some classes in the past.

Assistant principal Karen Hyde believes that the behavior issues stem from the higher expectations for high school students compared to those for middle school students. In high school, however, freshmen must learn to behave themselves without the specific guidelines forced upon them in middle school and to take responsibility for their actions.

“You have four years to become adults,” Hyde said. “The stereotypes of middle school, for example, popularity and looking cool, have to morph into ‘I need to accomplish goals, and I need to think ahead about my future.’”

Some freshmen point to increased freedom in high school as being the source of problems.

“Since there’s more freedom here; you can get away with more things,” freshman Eric Ferguson said. “In Redwood, you get caught so much and they care more. Here, you get discipline, but not as much as from Redwood. Sometimes we’re mean to each other, maybe because there was some bullying in middle school.”

Freshman class president Nikhil Goel has also noticed cases in which the freshmen have shown disrespect toward each other, but he believes the problem is isolated to a small group of students.

“I think we’re a good class. Most people are nice to each other,” Goel said. “I guess the small groups who do have ‘drama’ stand out with their bullying. But overall, I think we’re a pretty good class.”
Some upperclassmen say they’re noticing a difference with the class of 2014.

Senior Jacqueline Liu said that freshmen in general seem to “disrespect the teachers, their peers and the upperclassmen.” Liu believes that TV shows highly influence freshman behavior, and that students repeat the actions they see in real-life situations.

So just what exactly is going on? Principal Jeff Anderson believes one difference is the way some ninth graders interact with one another.

“At a school where common courtesy and politeness, and at least leaving each other alone if you don’t get along, is definitely the norm, they’re sort of at each other a little bit more than many of you have seen in the past,” he said.

Link Crew’s main focus was on school spirit, and Hyde noticed that it was not the proper program for behavioral transition of freshmen.

“We have found that we’re not addressing the problem in Link Crew. It doesn’t include the personal step,” said Hyde. “And we have found, particularly this year, that [the freshmen] found a disconnect between ‘this is what you need to do’ and what is actually happening.”

While the general attitude of the freshmen has come under scrutiny, administrators say disciplinary measures have stayed the same and that there haven’t been many major transgressions of school policy.

“Nothing has occurred in terms of rule infractions that hasn’t occurred in other years, but it’s really more about what people have observed, and how the freshmen are treating each other,” Anderson said. “They’re not getting in fights or stealing or anything but it’s like, ‘God, look at how they’re talking to each other’ and they’re doing it out in public.”

However, Anderson said the so-called freshman problem this year isn’t as bad as some students believe it is.

“It’s not the whole group,” Anderson said. “It’s something that will quite likely just pass when they grow out of it.”