All over again
As the end of the year approaches, many students will be progressing grades as per usual, but this hasn’t always been the case for some students.
One such student, Brodie Craig (’18) is currently repeating his freshman year. “I repeated this grade because where I lived, it was customary for kids to do a first ninth grade year at what was called these junior boarding schools, which are like the prep schools, but they only go up to [grade nine].”
When Craig found out he was moving to London, he was accepting of it because he had been preparing for the move his entire year prior moving to London. However, when Craig came to ASL he noticed that he was alone in repeating his freshman year. “If I had [gone] to the other high school that I was originally going to, there would’ve been lots of kids who were repeating freshmen year, like me,” Craig said.
High School College Counselor Ivan Hauck, thinks that the school accepts students repeating a grade, with a few drawbacks at first. “Sometimes, there’s a stigma of ‘Why were you held back? Was it because you didn’t pass your classes?’” Hauck said. “Sometimes students will have to deal with that which is unfortunate, but my feeling from talking to other students is that other students don’t see it as that big of a deal.”
Like Craig, Julia Leland (’16) also repeated her freshman year. In her first freshman year at ASL, she took the second semester off and returned in the fall to repeat the grade again.
During her winter break of her first freshman year her parents thought it would be a good idea to take time off from school and return in new the semester. “My parents thought I was a little bit too young for the grade,” Leland said. “It was just a nice time to repeat so I took the second semester off.”
When Leland returned to school, she found her social experience very challenging. “Socially it was just weird because there were still the left over rumors of why I left,” Leland said. “It was a little bit weird coming back into a new situation but still being known.
“During my second freshmen year I kind of just kept my head down,” Leland said. After not studying academics for six months, Leland was so excited to learn and be back at school, which resulted in her studying for the entire year. “It was kind of my choice because I did have a rough first freshman year socially, so I decided to just study, keep my grades up and figure out the social stuff later,” Leland said.
Hauck believes that there are positive and negative ramifications to repeating a grade. “The positive is that oftentimes students might feel a stronger sense of security whether it’s the academic material or even socially,” Hauck said. “I think the negative impact often times is students feeling like they are either wasting their time in particular classes, if they’ve covered the material, or they consider themselves more mature and everybody else less mature.”
Socially, Craig admits that he did not feel comfortable at first. “At the beginning of the year with meeting new kids and getting acquainted with the school, I spent a lot of my time in the first semester regretting repeating a grade,” Craig said.
Craig noticed “the maturity level of the students I found was very different between the other ninth graders and I,” Craig said. “It’s weird seeing tenth graders who are the same age as me, but then being treated like the typical freshman.”
Leland also experienced different social maturity when she returned to her new grade. “It’s weird when you enter because you feel a lot older than your peers,” Leland said. Particularly coming into freshman year she felt that her appearance and behavior was much different than her peers.
Although Leland feels that social adjustments were rough, she still believes that she made the right choice to repeat her freshman year. “I don’t have any regrets about repeating a grade,” Leland said.
“Because I was more mature, I just fell into the group of kids that were also mature,” Leland said. “It was a lot easier especially if you’re not as socially charismatic to be the older person rather than the younger one because you gain a boost in confidence.”
Like Leland, Craig feels that he has benefited from repeating his freshman year. “In terms of academics, maturity levels and leadership, a year of repeating can really benefit and give you confidence in the classroom,” Craig said. While repeating grades can be beneficial in absorbing previously learned information, skipping a grade can offer different opportunities for students.
anu Gualandri (’16) did the opposite of Craig and Leland and skipped Grade 7. “ I moved from a school in Milan and once I got to ASL, I talked to admissions and they told me according to my age and if I was willing to work a bit harder, I could go on to the next grade.”
With the change of school, Gualandri was already going to have a drastic change in curriculum, so he decided to take on the additional challenge. “At the beginning, it was a bit strange,” Gualandri said. “I could really feel that the people in my grade were definitely older than me, but it really didn’t take long to adjust because I consider myself a pretty mature person.”
At first, Gualandri faced many challenges with school work, but he was able to overcome them with the aid of faculty. “In the end, after working hard and getting used to the environment… I just found myself comfortable in the grade I was in, both in terms of social life and school work.”
Gualandri believes that skipping a grade exposed him to an environment where his peers were more mature people, which in turn made him more mature. “It was definitely a big jump mentally coming from sixth grade to eighth grade,” Gualandri said, also citing a feeling of greater “independence” as part of his learning experience.
As well as gaining independence, Gualandri feels he has gained many other traits that have helped him at the school.
“I definitely gained determination from skipping a grade,” Gualandri said. “There was a determination from me to do better at school and make new friends, without compromising my identity.”
Socially, Gualandri observes that he is still able to connect with people from all grades, not just his own. “The only thing that [skipping a grade] dictates is what I do in terms of classes… it didn’t limit me from meeting other people,” Gualandri said.