By Julie K
I had completed my application process through the worst of the pandemic, and therefore I did not have much experience with on-campus events. At the time, I did not know anyone else applying to Harvard-Westlake, or even who was already at the school. Given the circumstances, I was nervous for admissions events and interactions with my future peers. Days prior, I had returned from being at sleepaway camp for three weeks and had little time to prepare before the school year began. My first experience with my soon-to-be classmates was a back-to-school event for the entire ninth grade, both new and returning students.
As I arrived on the campus and said goodbye to my dad, I was met with many new faces greeting each other after summer break. I slowly walked down to the group of students, I was nervous to reach out and introduce myself. After standing alone for a couple of moments, a group of students approached me and invited me to sit with them. I was quickly relieved as they told me about different aspects of the school, from a description of the expansive area we were in to a rundown of my schedule. As the night progressed, I slowly introduced myself to more and more students for different activities and games that were taking place. I ended the night with some new phone numbers and a new sense of excitement for the school year.
The first day of school was about a week after the event. I had spent days meticulously planning my outfit and other details for the day. I had met one person who I lived near a couple of days before the school year, so I knew somebody walking into the first day of ninth grade. As soon as the bus dropped us off at the stop at school, I was immediately met with a million different emotions about the day ahead of me. I successfully made it to my first class without getting lost, and even when I did lose my bearings later in the day, there was staff and students available to point me in the right direction.
Even as we lined up alphabetically for the buses to Convocation at the Upper School on the first day, several students came over to me and introduced themselves. Although I was originally standing in my line alone, I was quickly surrounded by a group of students who wanted to know both about me and my first day at Harvard-Westlake. They created a sense of community among people who were previously strangers to me, and served as a layer of comfort throughout my first day.
This pattern continued as I went throughout my classes, and I especially bonded with those who were also new ninth graders. The shared experience gave us a conversation topic, and provided me with more helpful faces around campus. We figured out many things about the school together, and with the help of returning students, we were soon acclimated into Harvard-Westlake life. As the year progressed, it became easier and easier to find a familiar face in various situations at school. So, although I started out the year knowing close to no one, I ended it with countless new meaningful connections.