Freshmen: The Faces of the Future

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Charlie Burns

Annabel Granger (9) intently reads a book in Mr. Josselyn's BKT.

Charles Burns, Staff Writer

Due to increased transfers from private and out-of-district schools, this year’s freshman class is the biggest at Charlottesville High School in recent memory. However, that is just one of the many unique things about the class of 2022.

For one thing, there has been an increased amount of involvement between this class and Link Crew, the peer-mentor program where a select group of juniors and seniors mentor freshmen and are helping them make the transition to freshman year. This year, more than others, these Link Crew leaders have been forming meaningful relationships with their freshmen, helping them navigate the numerous social and academic challenges of high school.

“We know that transitioning from middle school to high school is a struggle all over the country because it’s such a significant step up”, said Mr. David Wilkerson, one of the faculty members in charge of Link Crew. “We’re now faced with the dual challenge of helping our largest class of incoming kids particularly helpfully, and fortunately we’ve got this great group of Link Crew leaders who have been through the process themselves, in many cases believe in what we’re doing, and have really given the freshmen a phenomenal start to their high-school experience”.

The guidance counselors who run the program are not the only ones who are praising the program. Many of the Link Crew leaders themselves have enjoyed getting to know and working with this year’s freshman class.

“They feel comfortable already and I feel like they’ve already settled in quicker than all the others”, said junior Chloe Boutin when asked what stands out about this freshman class compared to previous classes. “They seem really young but they also seem like they’re getting into a lot of school activities.”

As mentioned earlier, this class of freshmen is one of the largest in recent memory. This is due to quite a few incoming kids from private schools, such as STAB, Peabody, and the Village School. This is also because the population of Charlottesville is steadily growing, having gone up by 5,787 since 2010.

“CHS is a very diverse place,” said STAB transfer Howard Zhu. “Some of these teachers, they really are motivated to teach you, and they’re passionate.”

Howard also had plenty of praise to offer for freshman orientation, which he said was very helpful. When asked about the transition, he said it “went very smoothly”. Because of freshman orientation, Howard says, he knew where everything was and where to find his classrooms. He’s not the only one who’s had an easy transition.

“I like the environment and I like the diversity of the school and for me, as a freshman, the energy and just meeting new people is something that’s really exciting, especially since I came from a private school,” said freshman Lucas Fuller, who came here from Peabody. When asked what he would miss about freshman year, Lucas said “the energy and enthusiasm towards high school may dissipate as I get older.” Despite this, he’s still “Very excited about the whole high-school experience.”

C.H.S. has always been known for a high amount of diversity, particularly compared to other public schools in the area. According to the counseling department record, the class of 2022 breaks down to about 49.4% Caucasian, about 28.9% African-American, about 13.2% Hispanic, about 6.9% Asian, and .03% American Indians/Alaskans. In comparison, Albemarle High School is 62.4% Caucasian, 15.3% African-American, and 10.2% Hispanic, while Western Albemarle High School is 86.4% Caucasian, 4.2% biracial, and 3.7% Hispanic.

In addition to the high amount of diversity and different cultures in the freshman class, the class of 2022 will be the first class that only has to take 5 SOLs to graduate, moving the focus during the school year away from standardized testing and towards skills-based education. This is in sharp contrast from previous classes, who were often inundated with standardized testing to the point of exhaustion.

As you can see, the freshman class has a lot going for them and a lot of attributes that can help point them toward success. Let’s hope they live up to their potential and produce another extraordinary class of Black Knights.