Archive for Thursday, August 15, 2002

Angst overrides academics on first day at high schools

August 15, 2002

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At least on this one day of high school, topics such as college preparation, grade-point averages and textbooks took a back seat to such weighty matters as clothes, hair and class elections.

On Wednesday morning, about 450 sophomores at Lawrence High School and 430 sophomores at Free State High School reached another stepping stone on their journey to adulthood.

Apprehensions ran high on their first day of high school. But the students' angst went far beyond the academic.

Brett Glynos, 16, said it was essential to do a little styling on opening day. Sporting a fresh buzz cut, this sophomore's look included matching South Pole shirt and shorts along with white sneakers.

"You've got to look good on the first day of school," he said.

The schools had simultaneous cookouts for sophomores to celebrate the transition from junior high school.

Today, all students in the Lawrence public school district  except kindergartners  are to report for a full day of classes. Half the kindergartners go today, while the other half attend Friday.

Sophomore Jami Powell was too busy to get caught up in time-honored anxieties about the burden of advanced math or wearing the most fashionable low-cut jeans.

Instead, she concentrated on securing support for her campaign for sophomore class president. It's the kind of activity Powell wants to take advantage of because it should add substance to her three years at LHS.

"It's not just classes, but the whole experience," she said.

Opening that world of opportunity might be overwhelming, said 15-year-old Jenny Schaetzel.

"Having too much going on is a concern," said Schaetzel, who was anxious her studies and extracurricular school activities wouldn't leave time for much else in her life.

Glynos said he was prepared for the possibility of hallway hazing by juniors and seniors.

"You know," he said, "doing a book-drop on me  coming up behind me and knocking my books out."

Sophomore Aarynne Struble, 15, said she wasn't worried about hazing by upperclassmen.

"It's more with guys than girls," she said.

And there were concerns expressed about school  the academic side  too.

Sophomore Cynthia Chankheo fretted about the rigor of classes at LHS.

"I wonder whether I'm going to pass or not," said Chankheo, 14.

Carolyn Raynes, another sophomore at LHS, said she was surprised by attitudes of high school teachers she met. She had expected a take-it-or-leave-it approach to instruction.

"We were led to believe that high school teachers don't care about students or being there to push them toward success. But they do care."

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