Freshman Year: New Teachers, New Environment, New Friends

Three freshman who attended schools other than Berkeley last year talk about the trials and tribulations of being the new kids at school. Two seniors also share their advice.

Jenneh Lesaldo, Staff Writer

On August 29, 2018, 56 freshmen stepped into a new world. Berkeley is a unique school, one that might be intimidating to incoming students. As thoughts of friends, classes and teachers filled their minds, new students were welcomed into the family at Berkeley Preparatory School.

We all know what it feels like to be the new kid somewhere. Whether that be in a school, on a sports team or in a club, we all know that sensation. So, The Fanfare decided to put some freshmen who have recently experienced this feeling on the spot.

Jarah Williams
Anthony Castillo ’22

Q. How have your first few weeks at Berkeley been?

A. My first few weeks have been great. …[I]t’s kind of different adjusting from a public school to a private school, but the people are nice, and I’ve adjusted well to it.


Q. What are some differences between your old school and Berkeley?

A. The campus is a lot bigger, [and] you get a lot more homework … and it’s a lot more work than I expected, but it’s a good change. I like it.


Q. So, what are some similarities?

A. The classroom size is similar because there was around 20 people [in a classroom at my old school]. The workload is different. The teachers are equally as nice. I really like the teachers here at Berkeley Preparatory School, you know, great environment, just like public school. You know, I just I love it.


Q. Ok, so what sports or clubs are you in?

A. I’m in sports talk club, I’m in SADD club and I’m in Jolly Rogers Club.


Q. Any sports?

A. I play baseball.


Q. Have you always played baseball?

A. Yes, I [have] played baseball since I was about four years old.


Q. What advice would you give to new freshmen who have come from different schools?

A. To be nice to everybody and to talk to different people and get out of your comfort zone a little bit because the first couple weeks, I didn’t really know a lot of people, but then I opened up and I made a lot more new friends.

Jarah Williams
Neha Shahrawat ’22

Q.How have your first few weeks at Berkeley been?

A. They’ve been pretty good. I mean, the classes have started getting a lot harder, and I think that Berkeley definitely sets you up to succeed. But people here are really nice, and the classes and teachers are really great.


Q. Ok, so what are some differences between your last school and Berkeley?

A. Well, my last school was–it was a public school, but it was treated like a private school, and, I mean, I don’t know. It was just a lot more pressure [that] was put on to those kids, and, like, if you were taking honors classes, they were they were really, really hard, and it was just like, the schedule was a lot more intense and stuff. So, at Berkeley, it’s more, like, laid back. Chill.


Q. How was the move from Missouri to Florida?

A. It was pretty good. I moved from St. Louis, Missouri. I moved over the summer. I [went] to see my friends over the long weekend in October so I [was] really excited.


Q. So, what sports or clubs are you in?

A. I am part of the Berkeley rowing team. I really, really like it. I did row in St. Louis for a club.  So, like, I do have experience, but I like the team. They’re so close.


Q. So, what advice would you give to freshman who are new to Berkeley?

A. I guess first impressions really matter. Make sure that you know your teachers, [and] make sure that you know that that first couple weeks of school really matters because your teachers sort of define you by that and really put yourself out there. I think that Berkeley is a place where as much as you put in, you’re gonna get that much out of it and I’ve found that to be true and I’m really trying to push myself to do more. So really put yourself out there in terms of friends, academics, clubs. All that.


Q. What could other students who have been at Berkeley do to make the transition more comfortable?

A. The other students have been really great. I mean, the first couple days were kind of rough just, you know, finding your place and everything, but I did know some upperclassmen before I joined, and talking to them helped me figure it out.

Jarah Williams
MyLinh Vu ’22

Q. So, how have your first few weeks at school been?

A. They’ve been great, It’s been interesting, like new schedule and stuff. It’s kind of confusing at first, but I got used to it and like everybody here is, like, really nice, and the teachers are great, so yeah.


Q. Cool! What sports or clubs are you in?

A. I’m in the Environmental Club. I’m gonna be doing soccer here and lacrosse. I’m in GOALS and…Cultural Appreciation Club.


Q. What school did you go to before?

A. I went to Farnell Middle School: Home of the Legends. (laughs) It’s not [really called the] home of the legends.

NOTE: Farnell Middle School is known as the “Home of the Falcons.”


Q. Did you notice any differences between your last school and Berkeley?

A. Everything was different. Every single thing was different. The school is different. The environment is different. The classroom is different…the class sizes are so small here. At Farnell, like, each class would have at least twenty people in it. But here, the max is like twelve per class*…You can just leave your stuff here like without anybody taking it. It’s so cool!  I leave my locker open, and everything’s still there. You can just leave your bags around, and no one steals anything, and everyone’s just so welcoming and inviting. So is the staff and teachers, and people here are cooler than the people at Farnell. Throwing some shade.

NOTE: Upper Division’s average class size is 15, with a maximum of approximately 20 students per class.


Q. Was it hard to transition to Berkeley?

A. No, definitely not, Because, I mean, I had my brother here and stuff…I came here during camp and I [met] a few people…Everyone here is just you know, like I said, welcoming and inviting. There’s a lot of new people here so that kind of like helps me fit in too.


Q. Oh, so you made friends over the summer?

A. Yeah, it was, like, two summers ago. I was at a lacrosse camp, and I met Sutton [Johnson ’22].


Q. What advice would you give to freshman who are new to Berkeley?

A. Don’t try to fit in: be yourself. Because fitting in is a waste of time. If they don’t like you for who you are then, you know, don’t be friends with them, because they’re lame…Just be yourself, and find friends who are awesome and have the same interests as you, and just have fun. Don’t stress out too much and stay organized.

While Mylinh Vu, Anthony Castillo and Neha Shahrawat are just starting out, Jakob Hines ’19 and Grecia Prieto ’19 are upperclassmen who both experienced being the new kid in ninth grade.

Isabella Schlact
Jakob Hines ’19

Q. So, what advice do you have for freshman who are new here?

A. Be very open minded to everything, I mean, at first, I was really confused. It’s like, this is a very different setting than, like, anything else I’ve ever been in. Just be open minded, and be open to new people. Try to make new friends. That’s pretty much it.

Charvi Sharma
Grecia Prieto ’19

Q. What advice would you give to freshman who came from different schools, like other than Berkeley?

A. Don’t stress about freshman year, because it’s really not that important (laughs), compared to, like, junior and senior year. It’s a good foundation, but it’s not something to stress about or cry about or lose sleep at night.


Hopefully, whoever reads this article will look out for the new freshmen this year and help them out when they need it. To the freshmen: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance, because the chances are, anyone here is willing to help.