Volume 31



Ninth Graders on Transitioning to the Upper School


Authored by Sophia Vourakis and Ella Yadegar

As Harvard-Westlake students approach the end of the year, it is time for the freshmen to start thinking about their transition to the upper school campus. Various ninth graders were asked the following questions. In addition, a few upper school deans were asked to give advice on the transition to the incoming tenth graders.

What are you going to miss most about the lower school campus?

“The thing I am going to miss most about the lower school campus is the teachers. However, I am also very excited to finally be at the upper school,” said Olivia Baradaran ’24

“I think that I am going to miss the campus itself. There are so many spots, like the field and the reference room where I have so many memories with my friends. I am also going to miss the teachers and our deans,” said Ruby Kemper ’24

“I’m going to miss being the oldest on campus because I feel like it gives us a lot of freedom. When I came here in 7th grade, I really looked up to the 9th graders,” said Caroline Albert ’24

“The middle school is really pretty and I feel like I am definitely going to miss the classrooms,” said Janie Chandrasekhar ’24

“Even though we didn’t get to exactly spend a year at school with the 7th and 8th graders, I am going to miss being the oldest on campus. Also, I’ll miss how easy it is to navigate through this [lower school] campus. I know we’ll get used to the new campus but I feel like the lower school is very straightforward. Overall, I just like the entire vibe of the campus we are at right now,” said Noelle Kim ’24

“I am going to miss the middle school campus in general and all of the younger grades being together. I’m also going to miss my teachers,” said Ellie Whang ’24

“I am going to miss the really nice cafeteria at the middle school,” Sam Pulaski ’24

“When I am at the upper school, I’m going to miss coming to the lower school campus because I like this campus more than the other one,” Matthew Murray ’24

What are you excited about at the upper school?

“I am excited for the new environment and meeting the upper school deans,” said Belinda He ’24

“I am excited for the level of independence and the ability to take my phone out that comes with being at the upper school,” said Sam Pulaski

“One thing I am really excited about is being a prefect. We’re going to be thrown into a lot of changes like a new schedule, campus, and workload. But I will be able to help lead the grade through this transition,” said Nyla Shelton ’24

“Since we have had a year taken away from us, we don’t really have the full middle school experience. Although I’m really going to miss the lower school campus, I’m excited to make the transition to the upper school,” said Kai Do ’24

“I am very excited about going to the upper school and getting to go to school with juniors and seniors. I think it’s very cool that the 10th graders get to transition to a new campus,” said Ruby Kemper

What is your best advice for incoming sophomores about the upper school?

“My best advice would be to really think about the things, both academically and extracurricularly, that make you the happiest and lean into those. Upper School students inevitably have to focus their energies more than in Middle School and it’s helpful to figure out where your interests genuinely lie,” said Upper School Dean, Sharon Cuseo

“The best advice I can offer incoming 10th graders is to trust yourself! Trust the hard work you’ve put into your classes, trust your instincts around social choices and trust that HW has your back! The Upper School Deans will support and encourage each rising 10th grader in whatever ways each of those students needs. And if you are a student who hasn’t performed to the best of his/her/their abilities, or you’ve already made questionable social choices or you’re worried that HW Deans and faculty are too busy to care, that’s when you go back to the first request to TRUST YOURSELF—and in that case, you’re trusting yourself to turn over a new leaf in our compassionate and generous Upper School environment, and know that we have dozens of adults who are here in support,” said Upper School Dean, Nia Kilgore

“My advice would be ‘don’t be afraid to ask for help’. I think, too often, students feel like they have to have it all together and they need to do it all alone. We have so many incredible resources for students to take advantage of from our learning center, to our counseling team, to the Deans and students should use us. Learning how to utilize your resource is a skill that will serve you well throughout high school, into college and beyond. Things are not always easy, however, there are many adults at Harvard Westlake who are there to help and who care greatly about your happiness and success,” said Upper School Dean, Celso Cárdenas

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