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My Experience as a New 9th Grade Student

By James ’27

In March of 2023, when I received the email that I had gotten into Harvard-Westlake, I was overjoyed. However, as the summer months passed and the first day of school grew closer and closer, I grew nervous. How will I navigate such a large campus? Will the classes be too hard for me? Will I be drowning in homework? Questions like these loomed in my mind, and I had no answers…until Fast Start. Fast Start is a program in which new students come to campus for a week before school starts and learn how Harvard-Westlake works. During Fast Start, I learned where my classrooms were, got some time management tips, and, best of all, met some of my first friends. So, when school finally began, Harvard-Westlake was already a place I was familiar with. 

During the first few weeks of school, I was impressed by each of my classes. The teachers’ dedication shined through in each lesson, and I was learning at a faster rate than I had been in my former school. Speaking of faster, Harvard-Westlake is a generally fast-paced place, and this was definitely an adjustment for me. During my first few days, I found myself a bit overwhelmed. However, after about a week, I learned how to use my X periods effectively. Each class has an X period once a week, leaving free periods scattered throughout most days. Soon enough, I figured out how to get a large portion of my schoolwork done during the day. I even found the time to start my own club, the Beautification Club (helping to spruce up the campus), as well as join the Science Olympiad Club, Cadence for a Cause, the Jewish Affinity Group, and the Badminton Club, as well as become a Student Ambassador.

So, you see, Harvard-Westlake is definitely a fast-paced school and it may take some time to “get into your groove,” but the many resources, like Fast Start, the tutors and learning specialists in the Learning Center, and the welcoming deans who are always glad to talk, make the transition to middle or high school a lot less overwhelming. After a few weeks, Harvard-Westlake began to feel like a second home to me, and the hustle and bustle of HW life became second nature. 

The last thing I will touch on is the student body. I joined Harvard-Westlake in 9th grade, so the majority of the grade had already been together for two years, 7th and 8th. I worried that friend groups would already have been formed and solidified. In addition, I am introverted by nature, and I take time to form friendships. Yet it was clear from day one that my 9th grade peers were excited to meet new people, and the new students were welcomed with open arms. 

In conclusion, my experience as a new student at Harvard-Westlake has taught me that it is a challenging but rewarding place, and I have had a great experience here so far. I am excited to continue my high school journey at a school with so much opportunity. 

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Tags: , , , Last modified: November 9, 2023