ISKL will be seen through twenty new pairs of eyes this year. The new students will experience the life and hub of the school for the first time. They come from all walks of life and thus, are slowly learning how to assert themselves in their new social habitats. While this transition proves easy for some, it can be arduous for others. There are clubs around the school including peer helpers, who dedicate themselves to the assimilation of those that are coming from afar. The question remains however whether or not the new students feel welcomed to the new environment.
Initially peer helpers was a group that solely targeted the new students for the first school days by giving them tours around the school. They have evolved and now assign peer helpers to the new students so they can track how well they are adapting to the new school. This entails not only their social life, but also school work which may prove difficult for some who have come from a more laid back school system. Radhi S. is one of the younger presidents of the club and passionately advocates for kindness towards the new kids. “Almost every international student knows what it feels like to be the new kid in class, and how it feels to not know the surroundings or anyone there. Being helpful and friendly to a new student for even a minute might help their transition and make them more comfortable!” According to Radhi, it is a collaborative effort that will assure a smooth transition for the new members to the ISKL community.
The responsibility that comes with making sure that new students feel welcomed to the school not only lies with clubs. It relies on the cooperation of everyone– ordinary students. As Radhi mentioned ISKL is very diverse and filled to the brim with people coming from different backgrounds who know what it feels like to move. “I moved to ISKL halfway through the year. That was especially difficult as most new students had already met all of their friends and become used to their new school.” Bailey B., a tenth grade student, shares her experience with moving and how transitioning in the middle of the year is particularly difficult. Sometimes it may feel like everyone is tied down to a predetermined friend group making it hard to fit in. “Honestly it was the other kids that had to be new with me that were easiest to bond with,” said Taylor N., another sophomore, who found that friends existed within the group of students that were also completely new to the system and environment.
Various new students were interviewed and asked several questions regarding their move. Two girls in particular had interesting answers that provoke reflection from the students at ISKL. The first talkative student was named Sakshi coming from Manila. She was very outgoing and jokingly admitted “I miss the fact that there wasn’t a lot of homework for history.” While this was said in a playful manner the school load can shift according to the school. Those who are not in IB and move halfway through the year find that the curriculum differs from that of their old school. Coming in the middle of the year also puts a lot more stress on my shoulders, it makes you want to cry everyday when you come home, but you can’t because my mom just looks at me and says ‘what’s wrong with you’”. While the interview was filled with jokes, and funny remarks the underlying message conveyed by the two girls was that moving posed not only an educational but social stress that could drive one to tears. In regard to the cliques in ISKL the second student, Ally Foley said, “I can’t blame them.” while this proves a considerate approach towards the social grouping of ISKL it is something that must be changed.
While ISKL students have done a great job accepting the new students, it is time to take it one step further. Hopefully persistent smiles and encouraging words will help facilitate the transitions that many new kids are facing. In the words of Clara E, a sophomore, “We want to make everyone feel as welcome and comfortable as possible in our small community”. ISKL preaches a small school feel and it lies with the students.