Freshmen making adjustment for “Big Change” of Upper School


Freshman Jai Stephens knew upper school was going to be difficult.

She just didn’t know how high the bar was going to be set.

I was expecting it (high school) to be really hard and for there to be a lot of work.”

— Jai Stephens

“I was expecting it (high school) to be really hard and for there to be a lot of work.said Jai.

“And I was expecting it to have a lot more activities. And for it overall to be really, super hard. I thought I was going to die, but that has not happened.’’

Jai’s fears were compounded by the fact she was going to be one of the youngest people in high school. Jai’s birthday is July 7, 2006, so she had been fourteen for only forty-two days.

She said she considered doing on-line school but later decided against it.

Both Jai and fellow freshman Ellie Mincey agree the Upper School students are much nicer than they expected.

Jai and ninth-graders Suri Nguyen and Ellie Mincey are among the around 60 students in the freshman class who made the transition from the halls of the middle school to the streets of high school this year.

While other students were worried about high school, Suri Ngyuyen knew she would have her friends with her, who would help her come through tough times.

On the other hand, nothing could have prepared Jai or Ellie for the increased amount of homework in Upper School.
Ellie and Jai also believe students have a much greater bond with their teachers throughout Middle School, which they miss.

Although, a positive of Upper School is that the students can carry their phones with them all day.

Throughout Middle School, everyone knows their grades will not be a big factor in their life, but in Upper School, the pressure is on to make good enough grades to get into a good college.

Suri said she wanted to focus more on her grades, now that she is in Upper School.

While considering other things that have changed for her since Middle School, Suri Nguyen said, “I have a personal life and then school life. Balancing that changed a lot.”

After coronavirus ended school for months, the adjustment to high school from middle school was especially hard on the ninth graders. Stratford Academy had been on online learning for around five months when the 2020-21 school year started. Online learning days for middle school could take as little as 30 minutes, so the seven hours of school were a huge adjustment.

Most people in Upper School have had their final growth spurts.
But one person who has not is freshman Cam Douthit.

At 5-foot-2, Cam Douthit, who is currently one of the shortest people in Upper School, surprisingly does not feel as though he is surrounded by giants when he walks the halls of Stratford.

If Cam can survive being the shortest person in the halls without trouble, all students can get through ninth grade.