It was the first day of the new 2019 - 2020 Eastern Christian school year. Students shuffled into the auditorium to take their seats as the first school assembly was about to begin. High School Principal David Intlekofer asked that all new students stand to be welcomed.
A hushed whisper swept over the crowd as students looked around, seeing no new seniors and only about two new juniors. However that completely changed with the sophomore class. A sudden wind blew through the crowd as the once small class of about 40 had now grown to 85 with just a simple stand.
The Eighth Grade Drop Off
Over this past school year many things have been changing and reforming throughout the high school. However, the size of the sophomore class has seen one of its biggest changes in a while. The original eight grade class started the year off with 48 students and had decreased to 36 students by graduation. Since then, from freshman year it has grown back to about 50 students. Now it has grown bigger with about 85 students this year for tenth grade (that is 1 new student for every four already existing students). The sophomore class has experienced great joy and new friendships with this growth and can’t wait for more to come. However it wasn’t always like this due to a serious drop of students in eighth grade.
In 2018, the eighth grade class started off with a strong number of 49 kids. As the year went on, the eighth graders started to drop off like flies. By the end of that year the class had shrunk down in size, to about 36 students, causing concern for the years to come. Due to this, many students lost not only classmates but close friends.
People, like the then eighth grader Capri Kuiken, lost many close friends due to parent's jobs transfers and environmental changes. During the eighth grade graduation is where she experienced the effects of her fellow classmates leaving. She shared that, “I think I was just kinda sad because the people that I was really close with were the ones that were leaving. So that made me sad, but I was also excited because I knew there was going to be a bunch of new people freshman year.”
A New Grade Revival
Capri was right, because in the 2018-2019 school year, the then freshmen class was greeted with many new faces. That year the class had grown back to its original size of about 40 to 50 students. Between the two semesters they welcomed new faces, and even saw some old ones come back again.
One of the new friends they greeted was Faith Rivas, who entered last year in ninth grade. Faith had transferred from a once bigger environment into the small community of the then ninth grade class. She shared that she was surprised by the size and diversity of her class. She explained that she enjoyed that academically she was able to get more attention from teachers thanks to a smaller class dynamic. However, she also spoke of the social problems that can happen with a small class. She stated that, “I felt like it was too small. Like if you didn't fit in it was hard to find a spot cause there were already cliques and groups, and the grade was so small that it was hard to find a good group. Because there weren't that many options.”
She further said that she even found it hard to find friends that she could relate with. However, she is happy to say that she has made some wonderful friends, and she was able to share her interest and likes with.
A Community Change In Heart
A lot of these problems are now a thought of the past for this sophomore class, as this year they were welcomed with about double the amount of students. This class went from knowing everyone’s face to sometimes needing a little reminder that that new person in their class was a sophomore just like them. As Capri put it, she went from, " I feel like I know everybody's face," to "now I'm looking, and I'm like, wait, you're in my grade? And I don't remember who they are and I have no clue who they are."
“I feel like I know everybody's face,” to “now I'm looking, and I'm like, wait, you're in my grade. And I don't remember who they are and have no clue who they are.”
Although the change was big, the sophomores are very happy and feel more like a community now than before. Even their once past dilemmas have been put to rest. Cliques and groups are no longer as much of a problem. Due to the new class Faith has shared that, “There's definitely a lot of growth and a lot of people I feel have been able to fit in more because of how diverse, different groups and the grade itself has become. I feel like if you had a hard time fitting in last year, it was definitely easier to fit in this year and come in this year. And with that, you could definitely do more experiences cause I feel like everyone gets along better.”
With what might seem like a little change to you, the growth of the sophomores has not only doubled its grade but also its heart. The sophomore class is proud to say, they hope bonds will grow stronger and bigger as they take on these next two years together. As Faith said, “I feel like there's a lot more friendships that have been made this year. And like I've been able to click with a lot more people this year than I did last year.”