Although previous teachers have laid ground rules for English literature, some concepts are completely new. The students have had to adapt to these new expectations and develop their ability to think critically in order to succeed in the class. Jeremy Brown | The Feather Online Archive

Although previous teachers have laid ground rules for English literature, some concepts are completely new. The students have had to adapt to these new expectations and develop their ability to think critically in order to succeed in the class.

Freshmen adapt to high school culture

As freshmen adjust to their new environment in the ’12-’13 school year, they find that the subject of English in particular has changed drastically. Although previous teachers have laid ground rules for English literature, some concepts are completely new. The students have had to adapt to these new expectations and develop their ability to think critically in order to succeed in the class.

Many found their first day of freshmen English to leave them feeling unprepared and a bit taken aback. Most freshmen used the word “intimidated” at least once to describe that first day. Some felt that freshmen English teacher and journalism adviser Greg Stobbe expected quite a bit from them.

According to Rees Roggenstein, ’16, the first day of freshmen English was slightly nerve-racking and there was a sense of high expectations from the minute he walked through the door. He felt slightly fearful that he could not meet the high expectations of his teacher.

“When I first walked into freshmen English, I was intimidated by my new teacher, Greg Stobbe,” Roggenstein said. “One could say I was even a little scared. Stobbe seemed like the kind of teacher who wouldn?t hesitate to kick you out of his class for not meeting his standards for academic excellence.”

Despite the new expectations of the class, for many students it was made easier by their already existing knowledge. Students realized that they had been taught quite a deal in previous years. These jr. high and even elementary teachers prepared students for their future high school English classes. Through these teachers, the students were prepared with valuable ground rules and ideals that will benefit them in high school and in later education.

Jr. high English and world history teacher Eric Witters says that jr. high students going into high school must develop their writing and research skills in order to be ready for what comes next. Because Witters had Stobbe as a teacher when he attended FC, he says that he will give the future freshmen a head start.

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[Greg] Stobbe when I was a student, so the jr. high students have an advantage,” Witters said. “I somewhat remember what I learned with Stobbe. Their [freshmen] writing ability is clearly the number one thing that they need. When it comes to that, we do essays, in class writing and free response answers. Really the main thing they have to work on is research reports, which our eighth graders do a lot of. This helps them look through sources and not plagiarize. They need all these skills not just for high school but also for college.”

Students realize in order to get good grades they must learn various new concepts and build their present knowledge of old ones. One of these concepts is essays. Although the format of jr. high and high school are similar, they are also very different.

Many found their first high school essay to be a challenging learning experience. Through some degree of frustration and the process of trial and error, each freshmen has learned something new about the format of an essay.

Freshman Kiaya Hargis says that high school essays in retrospect to jr. high essays require much more research. Hargis says that she can no longer write essays without having to think of the subject’s content. Now she must use critical thinking combined with her own opinion in order to write an acceptable essay.

“High school essays are definitely more complicated and long,” Hargis said. “You have to add more information and less fluff. Junior high papers were usually very short and filled mostly with your own opinion.”

In addition to essays, the freshmen students have been engaged in a series of novels. These novels often require critical thinking and a deeper, more insightful view of the material. Many students have found these stories to be interesting. Some have even found deeper meaning applicable to their own lives within the pages of an assigned book.
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Zoe House, ’16, says that reading for high school English requires much more insight. According to House, she must look between the lines to decipher the true meaning of a novel. She also states that in order to truly understand a passage, it is necessary to study it and look for hidden symbolism through things that appear simple and without any real use.

“We are reading more this year and what we are reading now is more difficult,” House said. “You have to think about it more and do research. You can?t just read the material anymore.”

Between jr. high and high school, students read a variety of books. Although the students must read these books in order to sustain their grades, many students find that they enjoy them. The wide variety of titles presented to students in the last few years gives them grounds to pick the book most entertaining to them.

The novel House most enjoyed was The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. She enjoyed this book because of adequate description of the behavior and similarities shared by all people of all countries and backgrounds.

“I liked The Human Comedy,” House said. “I think that it really displays human behavior. It just goes to show the way all people really are.”

Dawson Oquist, ’16, says that The Giver by Lois Lowery was the book he found most intriguing. He enjoyed the novel because of the unique view given of a society trapped in a sense of the monotony of everyday life. He states that through this odd society he can better understand our own very different and yet shockingly similar world.

“I would have to say The Giver was my favorite book,” Oquist said. “It shows a society that is literally black and white and how oblivious people are to the things we call normal. In many ways I can see our own society through it.”

Although freshmen have endured less than a full year in English, the improvements are astounding. Most all freshmen feel very different than they felt that first day. There were lessons to learn and much struggle.

Projects like the yellow chair and autobiography tested the students and stretched their knowledge. Yet as the year has progressed, the students have found that hard work, critical thinking and determination, along with having a teacher who pushes them to do their best, has benefited them in all aspects of the subject.

Daniel Thao, ’16, says that this year he relies on his own knowledge rather then having help from his sister. He acknowledges that his English skills have improved along with his capacity to become a better and more focused student.

According to Thao, he expects his knowledge in the subject of English to keep growing and developing through the close of this year and future years to come. He says that he knows in order to do this that he must put forth effort and listen to his teacher?s instructions.

“I have learned how to use Blooms Taxonomy effectively,” Thao said. “Stobbe taught me how to read and write better. The reason I joined honors class was so I could become a better student. I depended on my sister Gigi for help last year but now I am more independent and have to give it my all.”

Although the amount of growth in English skills from jr. high to high school is immense, the year has not yet come to a close. There is still room for improvement and the expectations of the students for their future knowledge and abilities are great.

The freshmen realize that English is a subject that one can never fully master. It requires patience and a persistent desire to think deeply and truly understand deeper more profound meanings. The extent to ones skill and knowledge in the subject like most any subject is immeasurable.

For more features, read the March 25 article, Soak up the sun: Join the Discussion.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee and via Email: 1skylerlee@gmail.com