What’s It Like Being the New Kid (Once Again) for the Sixth Time

From day one it’s like a big red stamp on your head: “New Kid: Beware.”

  In a school of familiarity, new students stick out like weeds in a flower garden. They’re the kids who fumble their way through hallways, trying to look a little less lonely by gazing down at their phone. What was my biggest give-away?​​ The printed out schedule and highlighted map of the school clutched tightly in my hand.

  About a week into January, I arrived as a new student. For me, new schools are no big deal. I’m practically a veteran of the whole “new kid” thing with the amount of times I’ve moved. Voorhees is my sixth move now and I’m sure it won’t be my last. But the one aspect of a new school that will always frighten me is trying to integrate into a place where people already know each other. 

  You never realize how difficult it is to make friends until you’ve moved into a new school. My expectation of Eastern was fairly low considering I scraped by with a few friends in my previous school in Florida. However, I was warmly welcomed by students who took time out of their classes to help me find my own. Jules, someone I shared several classes and a nickname with, guided me to my English class when I expressed that I didn’t know where to go. I really appreciated her going out of her way to help me, especially since the class she was missing had a teacher with a strict late to class policy.

  I was lucky enough to have teachers who understood the ridiculous trek we have to take each day, and let others in after the bell rang. Surprisingly, I’ve found that all of my teachers this year were considerate. In fact, they accepted me wholeheartedly, and tried their best to include me in what projects had already started. Out of all the schools I’ve been to, Eastern has been the easiest and least stressful to transition into in terms of finding friends. 

  On the other hand, Eastern is probably one of the worst schools to navigate. Between the labyrinth of hallways and the ridiculous amount of classrooms, I’ve never been so confused in my entire life. I distinctly remember sitting in the counselor’s office and watching her pull out a map of the school, only for her to draw a long line all the way across the paper to point out my travel between classes. It baffled me how students were expected to make it to class within the six minute transition period when their next class would be all the way across the school. 

  I brought the issue up at home, and a family member joked that there should be a GPS to assist students in getting around. Honestly, it’s a funny idea. I’d love to watch a monotone robot voice tell kids to take a U-turn.

  I’ve slowly but surely learned how to navigate ways to my classes. All I need is some speed walking and careful maneuvering around crowds to make it just before the final bell rings. The best days are when my classes are close together, and I don’t have to run a marathon. I’ve grown more confident in myself the more time I spend in Eastern.

  However, my first few days were the most nerve wracking. The school eased my fears by assigning me someone from the Student Alliance to guide me for the first three days. My savior from complete and utter isolation was Addy. She was friendly, and though our pairing was forced, she didn’t make it seem that way. We engaged in conversation and shared our thoughts of the school all while walking to my classes. We talked about sports we played, our families, and the subjects we enjoyed learning about. I know that I was given a guide to learn my way around, but we were so busy exchanging details about our lives and the new school I was now a part of, that at the end of the three days I was just as lost as the first.  

  I’m not really complaining though because her kindness made me reach out more. Introducing myself wasn’t the embarrassingly horrendous feat I thought it was going to be. She was even nice enough to introduce me to her friends, who I’ve now grown to know.

  Being the new kid is never easy. From day one it’s like a big red stamp on your head: “New Kid: Beware.” The best kind of people though, are the ones who completely ignore it and give you a chance at friendship. I’ve met tons of kids like that, and the web of connections grew from meeting their other friends. I don’t feel like a stranger anymore, even in a school of 2,000 students. 

  I’ve never liked being the center of attention in school. That kind of spotlight makes me feel as though I’m burning under its gaze. I’ve noticed that it’s quite easy to redirect it when I’m talking with friends. It’s reassuring to know that we can all bond over shared hobbies. Personally, I’m intrigued by tennis, volleyball, music, art, dance, and learning new languages. I find that opening up about my interests helps me connect with my fellow peers. 

 I’ve had some bad experiences in new schools, especially with making friends, but it was so effortless at Eastern. And sure, there are those moments where I need to pause in a conversation between friends and ask “what’s that?” or “what happened?” but I’m not ignored or brushed off in those critical intervals of time. Instead, I’m met with explanations and gentle reassurance that erases that big red “New Kid” mark little by little. 

  Eastern may have flaws, but the people you meet will make you forget all about them.