The Freshman Filter and Futures

Kalani+freshman+Leilani+Phan+reads+a+book+in+C-12%2C+Ms.+Nassers+classroom.+She+is+starting+a+book+club+at+the+school%2C+and+encourages+everyone%2C+even+non-readers%2C+to+join.+

Azriel Badon

Kalani freshman Leilani Phan reads a book in C-12, Ms. Nasser’s classroom. She is starting a book club at the school, and encourages everyone, even non-readers, to join.

Azriel Togle-Wilson, Feature

Every year a new wave of students come to their first year of high school and have to transition to a new school and take an increased load of classes, with more participation and attention-requiring extracurriculars. The idea of high school is highly different from a freshman’s perspective, as a student’s schedule, pressure, and criteria are taken up a level.

Many students start to clutter their schedule with clubs and sports they find exciting and adapt to a new environment that expects more from them than ever before.

Sydnie Melemai, a ninth grader at Kalani High School, is part of the Robotics Club, Key Club, Book Club, and Computer Science Club, and takes piano lessons.

“In middle school, I was extremely lazy,” Melemai explains. “I did absolutely nothing, I even skipped classes occasionally. But now I give more effort in showing up and doing stuff.” 

She has been maintaining all of the expectations from each club and activity so far, which is a huge step up from middle school where she barely took part in classes. 

“It feels nice to be a part of stuff and explore my interests, but the whole day I’m out and about,” she says. “When I get home, I’m absolutely drained and am still finding ways to manage both my schoolwork and interests.”  

Many students find themselves in middle school, unsure and awkward about the world and what they’ll do in life.

“It’s definitely a hassle, but it feels so much better than when I would waste my time away at home,” she describes. “I had friends, I did stuff, but I had no idea who I wanted to be and what I was going to do in life, now I feel like I’m on my way to somewhere.”

With new activities and sports come higher stakes and expectations. This can add “severe burden and unease,” according to Julie Yonebayashi, another Kalani freshman.

“I want to have a successful career, but I don’t have good grades,” Yonebayashi (9) says. “In middle school, it doesn’t really matter, but high school is the start of what colleges are going to see. I’m worried about my future, and it’s scary.” 

Yonebayashi explains on top of grades, new friends are a huge issue. It’s hard without the same support system as in middle school to deal with all this anxiety. Another freshman, Ashlyn Yorimoto, agrees.

“It isn’t nearly the same as middle school,” Yorimoto (9) describes. “These assignments impact my future, and it’s honestly just an unnerving thought, constantly creeping down my back,” 

Students say they are pressured constantly, and freshmen feel anxious about their futures. 

Alia Heller (9) explains she has felt pressure since elementary school.

“My family stresses me out because there is a lot of pressure to do well in school,” Heller explains. “I constantly remind myself that the harder I work, the better life I will be able to achieve for myself in the future.”

Heller explains there is this heavy burden to get good grades at school all the time.

“I was constantly so focused on getting A after A after A,” she says. “I neglected to think about what I craved from my own life. Freshman year has been a chance for a new start. While difficult, I am given constant opportunities to be the type of person I want to be in the world.”