Freshmen, both new to the district, relate their experiences

September 2, 2014 — by Fiona Sequeira

Freshmen new to the school district describe their first few weeks at Saratoga.

The first day of high school is almost always a daunting experience, yet for freshman Sarah Deng, the nerve-wracking experience was compounded by the fact that she did not attend middle school with many of her peers. Lacking the common Redwood Middle School past that so many of her classmates share, Deng has faced additional difficulties in a new environment.

Deng, who attended Lawson Middle School in Cupertino, was originally supposed to attend Monta Vista High School, located near her father’s house. However, because Deng started to spend the majority of her time living with her mother in Saratoga, attending high school here became the most practical option.

Although Deng has faced challenges in meeting new people with compatible interests to her own in the first couple weeks of school, she hopes to find her niche socially by getting involved early on.

“I don’t think I've actually made any new friends so far, since I kind of just hang out and talk to people I already know or have mutual friends with,” Deng said. “Outside of school, I still only hang out with my old friends whenever I have time. I feel pretty excited for Club Day, though, as I’m definitely looking forward to making friends through joining clubs.”

In addition to the social aspect of high school, Deng occupies herself with a stringent dance schedule, often dancing for over 10 hours per week. Her favorite style of dance is a combination of modern and contemporary, yet she spends the majority of her time perfecting the jazz style.

“Basically all I do outside of school is dance. It’s my passion,” Deng said.

In fact, her love for dance has contributed to her favorite part of Saratoga High so far: the Independent Study Physical Education (ISPE) program. Deng’s rigorous dance schedule allows her to do ISPE rather than typical P.E. classes, an alluring choice for Deng because she is released from school earlier.

Academically, Deng fits into the school seamlessly, balancing normal freshman courses with Chinese 4 Honors and Algebra 2 Honors. Her favorite class so far is Biology, and she loves science teacher Lisa Cochrum’s teaching style.

“In terms of classes, high school so far is pretty easy. Sometimes, however, I feel like the homework we do is just a waste of time,” Deng said. “Plus, the food here is really expensive!”

Deng also plays bass for the school orchestra, an instrument she played for three years while at Lawson. In the time she is not studying, dancing or practicing bass, Deng enjoys listening to pop or acoustic music.

“I really like bands like Boyce Avenue that cover songs acoustically. I'm also really into soul music. One of my solos for dance this year is a soul song by Joss Stone, and I love her,” Deng said.

Another freshman who attended a different middle school is Elora Pradhan, who attended Challenger, a private school in Sunnyvale, until now but has lived in Saratoga for almost five years.

Pradhan is excited to connect with new people at Saratoga, but knows she must venture out of her comfort zone.

“It's only been two weeks, but I guess the biggest challenge I've faced so far is making new friends,” Pradhan said. “Most of the kids here are very accepting, but coming from a school where there were only 50 people in each grade, being the new kid is very intimidating, especially for me. I’m a naturally shy person and most of the time I'm afraid to introduce myself because I'm worried that people won't want to talk to me.”

Pradhan is also unaccustomed to the wide array of activities that the school offers.

“At Challenger, everything was focused on academics, and it was way less relaxed. There were no clubs or sports teams or anything like that,” Pradhan said.

In hopes of getting involved, Pradhan is eager to join speech and debate, robotics, DECA, Indian Club and Key Club.

“Several people have told me to join Indian Club, so I’m interested in seeing what it’s all about. I’m willing to try out almost anything!” Pradhan said.

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