The New Girl
By ANGELINA LIU
Second Place, Storytelling — Long Island Press High School Journalism Awards 2016
Remember when you were a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman? When your first day of school was a relief that there was no Regina George and a disappointment that people didn’t actually sing and dance like they did in “High School Musical?” Do you remember entering the hallowed halls of high school and thinking you made it to the big leagues?
As a mere freshman, you saw the seniors, admired them, envied them, and then decided that in 3 years, you wanted to be them. You knew, from the moment you walked through those doors, that you wanted it all. You set lofty goals for yourself, like getting leadership positions in all your extracurriculars, getting straight A+’s, and maybe even winning Homecoming Queen. But most of all, you wanted to dominate the social hierarchy of high school, feeling on top of the world as a senior.
I had achieved most of my goals by the end of my junior year. There were some dreams that I had to give up for the sake of practicality, but the one I wanted most was the one I least expected I wouldn’t get–senior year complete with yearbook superlatives, the opportunity to make new memories with my best friends every day, and Prom with the stunning Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. That’s because my family moved from New York City to Long Island this past summer, and I started my first and last year at Jericho feeling more like a nervous freshman than a seasoned senior.
As someone who has never been a fan of change, transferring schools was the last thing I wanted to do. It’s been a crazy past couple of months. It hasn’t been ideal, but it’s been a learning experience. I challenged myself to adapt to a new environment, even though I was afraid to take the leap. Jericho is different from my old school, and I’m enjoying meeting new people. But even though I’m making the best of this year, it hasn’t been easy in the slightest. It’s weird to walk the hallways of a school and not see familiar faces, and I miss my friends so much. Making new ones is difficult when everyone’s had 4 or more years to bond, and when by 12th grade everyone has found their friend-group, their people. Even if I make friends, I think I’ll always feel like the odd one out. I can’t follow conversations when people mention teachers I never had or experiences I wasn’t here for.
At my old school, transfer students were only allowed to come in for sophomore year, no later than that. We were a close-knit group and we welcomed the sophomore transfers with open arms. Jericho is unique in that it attracts so many new students—not only from around the state or country, but also from around the world. There are so many kids entering Jericho every year in every grade, contributing diversity to the entire school district.
So the next time you hear there’s a new girl (or guy) in your grade, remember me. Try to put yourself in her shoes and realize what a difficult time she may be having as she tries to get used to a place that seems foreign and feels vulnerable because her friends are all back at her old school. You may not notice at first, because in your world or at least your circle of friends, nothing has changed. It doesn’t matter if there’s another person in your grade because you have all the friends you think you need. But everything has changed for the new girl. You have the power to reach out and make a difference in her life. A little hello, an effort to remember her name, or introducing yourself can go a long way. I’m not saying you have to befriend her out of courtesy, but be sensitive and caring to what she may be going through. Do something to show her she’s not alone and that this new place doesn’t have to be so scary. Trust me, she’ll thank you later.