A freshman’s (updated) first experience at Central

Jaden Cheloha, Staff Writer

In my final few months of eighth grade, I had a lot of time to think about what high school was going to be like (since I wasn’t learning all that much online anyways). Who would I meet? What would it be like being in the buildingHow could I get involved around the school? Was I even prepared for it? Because I was asking so many questions, I didn’t feel prepared at all. Summer break came and went, and when August rolled around, a lot of these questions remained unanswered. Even though I was still a little scared, I had waited long enough, and finally felt like I was ready to make my first trip downtown and become a student at Central High School. 

I’ve already written an article on my first day inside Central, but it’s been almost three quarters since then. Even with COVID looming large, a ton can happen in a semester and a half, so it seems reasonable to take a look back on what else I’ve accomplished in my time as an Eagle.  

What extracurricular activities did I get involved with? 

I was excited to go out for football before the school year started. I was nervous at the same time, but I knew it would be good for me to get involved at school. All fall sports were then promptly cancelled before the first day of school, so I found myself without any extra activities once again. I went the majority of the first quarter without anything to do besides my classes. The only other activity I tried to get involved with went just about as well as football, and that was Academic Decathlon. 

I was part of my middle school quiz bowl team for two years, so when I saw AcaDeca was something I could join as a freshman, I was excited to be part of it. After attending a few meetings though, I realized it was best for me to drop it. It was the start of the school year (and the start of my first year at high school nonetheless)so I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all of my normal schoolwork. I dropped Academic Decathlon because I didn’t want to give less than 100% of my effort. 

Luckily, there have been other opportunities for me to get involved outside of the classroom. As a journalism student, Blayney recommended me to join a crew that broadcasts sports and other live events from Central. I missed my chance to take a broadcasting class in middle school, but this club has let me learn on my feet and helped me finally learn how to (almost) manage my time effectively. Plus, I’ve always had a sweet spot for filming, so this type of activity seemed like the perfect fit for me to join the Eagle community. 

How have I made new friends? 

Most of my friends from middle school decided to go to Burke, so I already knew I wasn’t going to know many people. I wasn’t ready to talk to anybody new just yet, and luckily for me, OPS announced our entire first quarter would be online. That gave me about nine more weeks to stress about having to meet new people. When second quarter rolled around, I was finally out of excuses. I walked in on my first day, and then . . . I started talking to some of the people in my classes. I sat next to someone from my Algebra class during lunch. We got to know each other. Was making new friends always this easy? Well, no. The COVID restrictions forced me to sit with only one other person at lunch, which made it a lot easier to get to know them. 

I only have one friend who came to Central with me from our middle school. We’ve been the best of friends for a long while, but we weren’t confident in our ability to talk to new people in such an awkward year. It seems surprising now, but luckily for the both of us, we began to make some of the same friends. The same person I talk to in my drama class is the same person he chats with in history. The same person I sit with at lunch is the same person he sings with in choir. This year seems like it shouldn’t have helped us make new friends as easily as we did, but when you put think about how COVID has affected our school year, it seems totally reasonable we were able to acquaint ourselves with so many new faces. 

What’s it been like in the building? 

Since writing my first article, the awe and wonder of attending such a historic school has died down a bit. Each day I spend in the building becomes less of me marveling at the architecture or being amazed at the courtyard when I eat lunch and more of me just trying to get to my next class. I’ve gotten used to the things that make Central such a unique school, and now I’m purely focused on getting around the school in a reasonable fashion and talking with some friends along the way. 

It’s also good that I’ve fully fleshed out a schedule for how I make my way around the school. In the first few days of in-person learning, I had a very rough layout of where I needed to go. Now, after a few months, I’ve learned about the intricacies and how everything goes together. It makes getting to my classes simpler, and it should make getting to new parts of the building for classes next year pretty easy. 

Wait, being around people in different grades is . . . normal? 

Attending middle school for four years trained my brain into believing each grade level stuck together and was forced to dislike any grade level below them. As a seventh grader, the eighth graders called us “sevies: a name that felt almost like an insult, was used primarily as a joke, and almost never came off as a compliment. I chatted with other grades only in a few extracurricular activities, as I shared all of my classes with the grade level I was in. The occasional student council meeting, quiz bowl tournament, or swim practice let me chat with younger or older kids, but otherwise, middle school just made that feel unnatural. 

It took me by surprise to walk into Central and see sophomores, juniors, and even seniors in some of my classes. In high school, classes are designed to help the student learn best, no matter which class they feel the most comfortable taking. It’s nice to not see classes plainly based on grade level, and it has made for a wonderfully new experience for meI now walk into newspaper knowing there are many kids older than me in that class, but it doesn’t feel weird anymore, like the thought of me sharing a class with a seventh grader when I was just arriving to middle school in fifth grade. 

It’s also quite refreshing to see older kids not be completely rude to the younger grades just because they know they’re older. That was a surprisingly common problem for me when I was in 5th grade, and I tried my best to not continue that trend as I got older. People at Central just talk, they respect each other, and it’s a community I’m proud to say I’m a part of. 

It’s hard to believe just how much of this school year has blown by. It really feels like classes started just a few weeks ago. The circumstances haven’t made anything easy, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m at least a little happy with how my freshman year has turned out so far.