New year, new friends
The first day of school. It's a day that evokes different emotions in everyone: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, even fear. For some, the beginning of school is a return to old friends and familiar routines.
Many of the students at Faith Christian High School have spent the majority of their junior high to high school years there, and as a result, have established their own circle of friends.
It's always intimidating to be a new kid, but it can be even more so at FCHS, where everyone knows everyone. It's a challenge for returning students, too, to look outside their own friends and reach out to someone new. It takes courage, both to be a new student and to reach out to one.
Senior and student council secretary Annie Reimers said, "It's about realizing that it's not all about you, and having the courage to reach out to others — not to be all about yourself."
Everyone — myself included — gets so caught up in their own lives, friends and drama that it can be hard to see who's hurting and who needs a friend. New students at FCHS often find this to be the case.
Hyein Lee, a senior and exchange student from South Korea, said of her experience as a new student at FCHS, "Because I didn't speak very good English and was shy, it was hard to make friends at first, but everyone was friendly. As time has gone by, they don't treat me like a foreign student anymore."
However, she added, "It could be hard to make friends (here), because since everyone has known each other for so long, I thought that there was no opening for me."
Another student, Laura Dunham, a senior who came to FCHS as a freshman, said, "At first, it was intimidating because everyone had their cliques and groups, but it just took some time, and I had to be patient and willing to try and make friends."
Joo Lee, another Korean exchange student who attended FCHS from her sophomore year until graduating last year, had a slightly different experience. She said, "At Faith, I felt more welcome from the students and teachers than any other school I've been to. The first day at Faith was fun and unforgettable. My classmates asked me random questions, and as I replied, I felt like they accepted me as a classmate.
"It wasn't hard to make friends at Faith," Joo continued. "Everyone knows each other so well because of the size of school, but all the students have an open mind toward making new friends. I didn't feel like I was being judged, so making new friends was only a matter of time."
In a small school environment like Faith Christian, it's all too easy to remain wrapped up in our own lives, especially our social lives. So when you see a new student, take a minute to give them a smile and hello. You never know. He or she could end up becoming your best friend.
Elizabeth Andrus is a senior at Faith Christian High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.