By Sabrina ’26
Starting as a new 9th grader, I was aware that I would only be on the middle school campus for a year before transitioning to the upper school. I was excited to have so many possibilities before me and many different opportunities for classes, clubs, and meeting new people. Knowing I would only have a year at the middle school pushed me to try new things. I wanted to take advantage of what the middle school campus had to offer and make the most of my time. Freshman year at Harvard-Westlake felt like an introduction for what was to come sophomore year and beyond, and helped develop the skills to handle the harder courses at the upper school. I had the chance to explore new classes and clubs that I would later pursue at the upper school. Even though I only had a year at the middle school, it prepared me for the workload of the 10th grade and it felt like a gradual transition to the Harvard-Westlake high school experience.
There are a lot of new students joining the Harvard-Westlake community in the 9th grade, and I read many of the articles about transitioning as a new student. I was so well-prepared for the transition to a new school, that I had forgotten about the transition I would experience for the 10th grade. It was funny to once again be going through yet another campus orientation and learning a newly formatted schedule, and I missed the feeling of returning to something familiar. As with most changes, there’s definitely an adjustment period. But this time, I got to experience it with my friends and it was much more manageable, like an adventure that we were embarking on together. Coming to the upper school felt like another fresh start and like I was officially a high schooler. I understood Harvard-Westlake’s courses in the 9th grade, where I found classes that I really enjoyed. Freshman year helped me understand what courses at Harvard-Westlake I was passionate about and helped me establish my academic course load for sophomore year. I took an interest in my history class and my drawing and painting class, which led me to enroll in art history at the upper school. From my experiences in 9th grade, I was able to take more specific courses in 10th. I also took a summer program at the upper school that helped me navigate the campus and buildings, and it was a preview of what life would be like as a sophomore at a new campus.
Coming in as a new 9th grader means I only had one year at the middle school before preparing for another big change in campuses, schedules, teachers and classes, but in that year I was able to find myself and my place in the school community, which I can now say as an adjusted 10th grader, is truly defining my Harvard-Westlake upper school experience.