Freshman are people too

I remember the first day of high school clearly. Bus 5821 dropped me off in front of the main doors, and a senior that I had grown up with showed me to my locker then to first period. I managed to find all of my classes that day without getting lost, which is impressive considering how different the high school is from the middle school.

I remember loving the feeling of being at a new school because having a clean slate gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself.

What I don’t remember is going out of my way to be annoying, or to shake up the school in any way.

As freshmen, my friends and I treated the seniors with the utmost respect because they were seniors, and we were impressed by the fact that they were basically legal adults.

Being a freshman is nerve wracking enough for the first few months, with everything being foreign and uncomfortable. Add on top of it the slow realization that upperclassmen think that they are better than you simply because they’re older, they will feel powerless.

When you’re a freshman you’re bound to get negative comments weekly. Maybe some of them will be mild, like the “FRESHMEN SUCK” chant. Or maybe the remarks will be hardcore like the time I heard someone shout “GO BACK TO MIDDLE SCHOOL.”

It’s a strange sensation, knowing that you are at the bottom of the totem pole when you were at the top months ago. It sounds like being a freshman could be fine, but it also sounds like it could be bleak at times. The fact that every freshman class gets hit with the chant leads me to believe that the upperclassmen’s animosity towards Hereford’s newest students was learned, not instinctual.

Peyton Funk (’15) says freshmen have never directly offended her, but that doesn’t change things.

“They’re annoying; I was a freshman once but they’re annoying,” said Peyton.

Peyton isn’t sure if she finds freshmen to be annoying naturally or if she’s been influenced by hearing “I hate freshman” throughout high school. Peyton isn’t sure whether she would still hate freshmen if she was the only one who hated them.

Peyton does, however, support the idea of freshman being friends with upperclassmen.

“When I was a freshman, I was friends with a bunch of seniors and juniors because my brother was a senior,” said Peyton.

Special educator, Peggy Reuschling, who went to high school in the eighties, said when she was in high school, things were different.

“The junior high went seventh, eighth, ninth, so freshmen were actually the oldest group in the building.” said Reuschling. She also mentioned seniors did not pick on the sophomores as one might expect.

“I haven’t noticed [freshmen getting picked on]. I don’t think there’s a lot of mixing between freshmen and upperclassmen because of the course requirements for freshmen,” said Reuschling.

“I think that people need to cut the freshmen some slack. We have all been there, and we all know that we were told not to take it personally, but it’s hard not to,” said Jessica Warren (’15).

Other individuals have their own thoughts on why freshmen are the odd kids out.

“I think people forget what it’s like to be a freshman. They get into the building and they’re trying to find their place, establish themselves. I think it becomes a catchphrase.” said special educator, Mary Holmead.

“I think it’s a feeling of seniority and feeling superior,” said special educator, Robin Gilmore. “I think it would die away once people realize that there’s no reason behind it and that we’re all here for the same reason. If people put themselves back a few years they remember that they were freshmen once too.”

She has a theory that all of the animosity comes from a specific place.

“I think that’s a cycle too, you remember people doing it to you, so once you get out of that place, you’re going to do it to the people below you but then if you flip it, remember that feeling, and say you want to stop it, then people could follow that…” said Gilmore.

I think she’s on to something.

Alexis Griffey (’16) said, “I don’t mind freshmen that much, to be honest. Sometimes they’ll be kind of annoying but I totally understand where they are coming from because they are new and confused. You’ve got to cut them some slack”

“I was so nervous on my first day and I guess the seniors were pretty intimidating because they are so tall.”

I think there is this stereotype out there that the seniors will teach freshmen a lesson if they get out of line. I don’t think there is much truth to the idea, except for the fact that being a freshman really can be scary.

Based on what people have said, it seems that I can conclude that when people say that they don’t like freshmen, it’s the idea of freshmen that they dislike rather than the actual ninth graders. I get the feeling that as long as upperclassmen look down on freshmen and make silly remarks, the freshmen will keep the freshman bashing tradition alive, and that cycle may never end. Then again, if everyone stopped now, maybe the future freshmen would be treated just like normal students with respect.