I am the official professional school changer of the world. Okay, maybe not of the world, but I have had my share of changes. I have transferred schools eight times in my life. Now that has to be some kind of record.
When I lived in New York state, I transferred twice, and then when I moved to Iowa, I moved to six more schools. Since I am an experienced school jumper, here is some advice that I would give. Believe me, I have learned from my experiences.
My first words of wisdom are to go and visit the school. It will help make the transition easier. Second, be willing to take risks and say hi to people smile; smile, smile, and smile. Third, join clubs. This will help you make more friends and make friends easier. The more friends you make, the easier the change will be. Fourth, have high expectations that people will be nice, because they will be. Fifth, if you get lost in your new school, don’t be afraid to ask for help finding your way around.
My schools in New York were way different than they are in Minnesota and Iowa. As for the two schools that I went to in New York, one was public and one was a Montessori school. I remember the Montessori school the best. I remember that we had a fiber arts room that I went to a lot to get away from all the other students. The school was pretty big, but not as big as the public school I went to.
Then the next school I went to was Black Hawk. That school was big, too. I don’t remember this school too well, but here is what I remember, I remember that I didn’t go and visit that school, so it made the transition really difficult. I think that if I went to visit the school, the transition would have been easier. Too many faces and names to learn, but so little time.
When I started at my next school, I was a little more prepared and not as nervous. The school’s name was Great River Christian School. I had a mentor that helped me around, and it helped a lot. She let me sit with her and introduced me to my friends. I felt more comfortable as part of the group.
Then when I moved to Decorah, Iowa, I went to Saint Ben’s for the last half of my seventh grade year. I went to say hello to my class there, but I didn’t stay the whole day. I wish I could have stayed the day, so I could have had a feel of the school and where all of my classes were. Again, it was hard to pin names to faces in a short period.
Then I went to Decorah Middle School, but I didn’t get to stay the whole day and get shown around. The reason that didn’t happen was that my parents and I didn’t enroll until the summer of my eighth grade year. When school started, I had one of my friends show me around because we had classes together, and she let me sit with her at lunch.
Finally, the last school I transferred to and that I am still at is Mabel-Canton. I remember the day that I came and visited. It was a Friday of my junior year. When I got to the school, I was really nervous because I didn’t know anyone, but I had four wonderful girls show me around. During the day I started to feel more comfortable. I realized that this school would be the perfect fit for me with the small class sizes and friendly people.
One last piece of advice. For those of you who have been at the same school and had the same friends for as long as you remember, be friendly to that stranger who walks down your hallway. You really can make or break a school experience for a new student.
Dominique Dobson is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its eighteenth year.