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Being the New Kid At AAHS

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Moving is tough.

I moved here around the beginning of this semester, and it’s been an experience. I’ve lived in different states: Hawaii, Louisiana, Florida, and (most recently) California and Colorado, and I have traveled through at least a dozen others. As a result, I’ve been to seven different schools, from public to home-school and back again. Some have been big, and others small.

Air Academy High School, though, is a new experience; there are over a thousand students here, all of us teenagers. I see new faces every single day, making it hard to pick out one amongst the crowd. And, being a bit of an introvert, making friends isn’t my strong suite, especially in the middle of the school year when most groups have been made and settled. The people here are also different in both attitude and culture compared to California—more smiles, but more distance, too. I may be surrounded by hundreds of people, but more often than not I’m entirely alone. Other new students feel the same way. “It’s been really tough,” said a junior, who moved to AAHS this year and wishes to remain anonymous.

But I get it. After awhile, we become desensitized to New Kid #123’s arrival. Unfamiliar faces show up weekly, and eventually, we decide it’s not worth the effort to introduce ourselves. That’s not anyone’s fault, though–it’s difficult to be friendly with the pressures of school, social situations, and home life pressing down on our shoulders.

However, new students feeling alone is more than just an issue of their (or our) discomfort. Other students are affected as well. Classroom atmospheres push drilling information into our heads over helping us learn to be functioning humans, both socially and educationally; the hallways are a war zone, where I (and others) have been bumped into and even shoved; lunch has dozens of students wandering around or sitting alone without a single person to talk to or interact with. The school feels less like an environment that welcomes development of character, and more like one that invites harmful, debilitating isolation and the mental health issues that come with it. Psychology Today stated that, ”Social isolation is a huge risk factor for the onset of major depression.” Depression affects grades, health, and so much more—it ends lives. But how can we change this?

For one, teachers can have a huge influence on the lives of their students. By encouraging social interaction among classmates (even after the beginning of the year) through academic formats, teachers can help kids who might otherwise lack the courage to talk with others. And, of course, other students can help, too. By trying to see the best in others and make the first move in meeting people (even if it is embarrassing and awkward), we can help each other be happier and healthier.

So next time your teacher announces a new student’s arrival, be the first to say hi! That kid will appreciate it more than you’ll know.

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Being the New Kid At AAHS