We see them crowding already crowded halls. Some walk around looking nervous while others have a bit of cockiness. We look at them and wonder, “Did I look like that my freshman year?”
As I talk to Oni Bell, a freshman coming from Miguel Juarez, she seems like a very relaxed, laid-back kind of girl. She is also easy to talk to, not intimidating at all, and not at all intimidated by Waukegan High School.
While Oni says her relaxed attitude “had nothing to do with Freshmen Orientation,” she also says she “didn’t find it a waste of time.” When I ask her if she likes high school so far, Oni simply answers that the best thing about high school for her is “meeting new people. I like how we just sit and do nothing in Advisory. Also, French is pretty cool.” As I ask her what she’s excited about, she pauses to think, and says, “Drivers Ed.” Learning to drive is a step toward getting older, and Oni feels like she is growing up by coming to high school: “I feel old,” she says with a laugh and smile. More responsibility has come her way this year.
I start to wonder what is harder for her now that wasn’t before. She replies: “Some friends change, and I don’t see as many of them as before. Also getting to class on time.” She doesn’t like the crowded halls: “Ugh. Disgusting,” was all she could say about it. Is it hard to get down the halls because upperclassmen are mean to her? “No. I do see it, a little. But it’s only verbal.”
With all this happening does she miss middle school? “Yes. My teachers were cool,” Oni says, smiling.
While talking to her, I can’t help but remember my freshmen year. I was at the Freshmen Center and never thought that being a freshman would be the way it is for those who are freshmen here now. I don’t think I would have handled it as coolly and calmly as Oni does.