On Campus

Upper School welcomes 129 ninth graders to community

By Aaron Orbey

Erica Connell ’16 graduated from Saint Patrick School in Stoneham last spring along with 21 fellow eighth graders. Now, a few months later, she prepares to enter a new freshmen community more than six times that size—joining 128 other ninth graders in the Class of 2016.

Like Erica, 51 other members of the freshman class enter the school as new students, representing a variety of districts and prior schools. This variety, she explained, constituted a large portion of her decision to attend BB&N.

“That’s one of the reasons I picked the school,” Erica said. “I’m excited about trying new things and meeting new people.”

Several returning students in the ninth grade said that they share this sentiment.

“I am so excited for the new influx of kids,” said Lida Clapp ’16, who has attended the school since Beginners, “and not only the new freshman, but also all the sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who will be new for us as well.”

Tajwar Ahad ’16, who has attended BB&N since the Lower School, added, “High school is a milestone for every student, and I’m sure that all incoming freshmen are genuinely excited to embark on this great journey.”

According to Sara Lopez-Wheeler ’16, another BB&N Lifer who began as a beginner, compassion is a trait that unites the rising class. Despite the presence of definite social groups within the grade, she explained that her classmates’ underlying and continuing unity makes them unique.

“Everyone takes the time to know the rest of the grade,” Sara said. “There will be friend groups in every grade at any high school and middle school, but what makes us different is how well we know each other as a class.”

This unity will prove important, Sara pointed out, as the class adjusts to its new environment and faces its first challenge—Bivouac, an unfamiliar prospect for many.

“I’ve never been camping,” said Erica, “so I don’t really know what to expect.”

Lida added, “Bivouac certainly sounds thrilling and terrifying at the same time, as I am a city girl. It will definitely be my first opportunity to gain new friends, skills, knowledge, and experience. I just hope that I can survive in the wilderness.”

Upper School Director Geoffrey Theobald said that he is confident the ninth graders will thrive in the face of new experiences.

“I have been fortunate enough to meet with some of the new students and their families over the summer, and I am so excited for what I think will be a powerful class of students,” he said. “I was struck that while most expressed the rather natural sense of anxiety about moving into a new school, and moving up to high school at that, they also were eager and excited for the chance to participate in this community. They are drawn to the energy and camaraderie that the students generate here, and they very much want to be a part of all that.”

Along with the new freshmen, six new sophomores and nine new juniors enter BB&N this fall. According to Mr. Theobald, all of the freshmen will acclimate well within the student body and provide a new perspective.

“My sense is that this is a class that will bring high energy, a can-do attitude, and a sense of fun and play to the school,” he said.

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