One thing I’ve learned about Stratford Academy since I arrived last year is that it has many amazing traditions.

I just wish someone had told me about them when I was a new student.

I am no stranger to being the new kid. I’ve moved four times in my life, attended six different schools, and I have never felt so disoriented as I did when I first arrived on campus. While I have enjoyed my time at Stratford, I have missed out on many of its traditions simply because I did not know they existed.

Most students at Stratford seem to know these traditions by heart. But the school needs to do a better job including its new arrivals in these rituals, not to mention the nuts and bolts of making it through the school day at the Academy.

During the Honor Code assembly, I had no idea which board I was supposed to sign. I ended up signing the wrong board, and I now have signatures on the board for both my grade and the grade below me.

I had no idea what a Spirit Day was, and the spirit ladder remains a mystery to me. Everyone seems to know the alma mater except me. During Finals week, I had no idea that students could dress down until I showed up to school and realized that most of the other students were not wearing their uniforms.

I have no idea what SIB and SAB stand for, nor do I have any idea of what they do.

I would have loved to go to the new student orientation, if I had only known about it.

In addition to traditions and spirit, just navigating the hallways during the first months was difficult. I didn’t know where to park or where to go during study hall and break. I almost got a demerit for walking straight through the cafeteria, because no one told me to walk through the gym.

Many of these problems could have been avoided through better communication. The buddy system should be redesigned to include more former “new” students.

A student who has attended Stratford since they were toddlers may know everything about Stratford, but a student who has only been here for a year or two knows what new students don’t know. I also think it would help a lot if buddies “shadowed” new students for the first day, at the very least, showing the rookies where all of their classes are, where to go for break, and even where the restrooms are (it took me well over a week to even discover the bathroom by Mr. Stecher’s room!).

It also would have been nice to have a map. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been late to nearly all of my classes.