“The first sign is anxiety, they also…resist, resist against the system.” says Mrs. Hull, a freshman advisor as well as teacher, on the topic of transitioning into SLA.
Many freshman walk through the double doors of SLA, entering a new world. A world unlike any other, hope bubbles inside of them, hoping that this will all work out.
The transition may be hard and strange for some, others embrace the new ways and fit right in. Environment plays a huge role in the way humanity acts. Without certain things we fall apart.
For Elani Gonzalez-Ortiz, a freshman at SLA, the change was huge.
“At first it was like what woah I can do whatever I want. It was really confusing. You didn’t have things you had to do.”
Prior to SLA she attended Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School, it was a very different environment. They had a Dean who was very involved in the students lives. At the school they had a rate system which ranked the students based on how they felt and if their teacher believed they deserved a higher rank. Concern, neutral negative, neutral, neutral positive, positive, pledge, lion, and aspirante executive are the ratings. Elani was a pledge, however she did not agree with this system.
“I honestly hated the rating system because in my opinion it was biased because certain people would lets say be on neutral even though they would try to become a positive.
Although most middle schools require a uniform, the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School did things a little more strictly.
“Uniforms were more intense we had to wear a blazer, with a button down shirt that had to be completely buttoned (something that I still do) and a tie. We also had a gym uniform with the school logo.”
This may sound familiar to many students, no matter what school they attended. However one key detail was missing that most students remember and may still have. A lanyard. Her school did not use the ID scanner. Instead they used fingerprints.
“I think its so weird to have an ID,” Gonzalez-Ortiz said. “The fingerprint just seems so normal to me.”
SLA offers more freedom than most schools within the Philadelphia School District as well as many private or parochial schools.
While there are other schools that also offer the freedom of uniforms, SLA offers an unusual yet unique type of freedom. Teachers give you assignments and projects with very vague outlines. Mrs. Hull is one SLA teacher that uses this method.
Hull knows this is not so easy for the freshmen. “They want one right answer. Some might cry, they want to be told what to do.”
In SLA our advisory becomes our little family. Advisors play a huge role in helping new students fit in and find their place at SLA. Not only during freshman year but also kids who transfer. Advisors are the people who help us through tough times, and are our person to talk to.
“Elani is a quick study, she was shocked about the freedom and she was surprised about all the things she’d have to do on her own. She figured it out quick.” These are words of Elani’s freshman advisor Mrs. Hull.
Lewis Ford, a sophomore, had a different transition,
“I thought I didn’t have to go to classes, like it wasn’t mandatory. I just sought attention.”
Ford has changed a lot after attending SLA for a year. All people react differently to situations or environments they are not used to.
Although Ford’s middle school experience had parallels with Gonzalez-Ortiz’s experience they acted differently while in their first year at SLA. Ford has taken a year to settle down and fully grasp the knowledge of how things are done at SLA and how to make the system work for him.
“I kinda got intune with my self, I don’t always have to be the center of attention. I have realized other things are important. I know how to proportionalize, I manage my time better. It affected me in a good way, it is preparing me for college, where like you have freedom but need to manage your time to do work.”
While the transition into SLA is different for every student that walks through the double doors of SLA, they eventually find their happy medium. They are able to make this environment work for them. The SLA community and staff play a huge role in helping us transition and find ourselves. Just like every person is different, every experience is different.