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    • Freshmen take a moment to huddle before the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Left to right: Olivia Wen, Saira Munshani, Mika Kendall, Zoe Kim, Sarah Roberts

Freshest Freshmen on the Freeway

Jeff Gu '18, Features Editor
Seniors. Juniors. Sophomores. Freshmen. In the high school, ninth graders are the ‘bottom of the food chain.’
They are the “newbies,” the frosh, the smallest kids on campus next to the Junior Schoolers. Yet, these fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds are the future of Hopkins, eager to receive the mantle of the “hopeful youth,” and dedicated, in future times, for the “public service of the country.” These freshmen are enthusiastic. They are the dreamers and soonto-be leaders of our school.

The Hopkins Class of 2020 just survived its first year of high school. In the fall of 2016, seventy-one students were new incoming students, seventy-five were in the Junior Schooler. The students of 2020 are a diverse group, yet through this past year together, many of their difficulties and discovered aspirations have been more alike than apart.

Reflecting on lessons learned in the past year, Madalena Kombo ’20 said, “Hopkins has helped me learn how to manage my time and work efficiently.” George Wang ’20 added that the Hopkins experience helped to mold “a diligent work ethic.”

Beyond values, the school is also said to have facilitated a closer bond between students and faculty. David Nartey ’20, who was an incoming freshman, said he hoped “to be welcomed warmly by people that would help ease [him] into the program.” Now a year later, Nartey said that Hopkins was exactly what he had expected. He said, “I have yet to discover a let down and I don’t think I will.”

In the Class of 2020, community resolve runs deep. Yasmin Bergemann ’20, a co-head of Conservation Conversation, aims to spend the next three years creating a “Hopkins and New Haven that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Bergemann has already begun her environmental impact on The Hill by installing a butterfly garden on campus. Reflecting upon the past year, she added that “Long nights studying or writing” taught her perseverance “...in that even though I might have a lot of work, I just have to finish it.” It taught her “better time management and efficiency with [her] work and efforts.”

Victoria Aromolaran ’20 came into Hopkins expecting a dialed down “movie-like, Gossip Girl scene” with a lot of “...very wealthy kids pressured with high expectations to do really well academically, socially, and athletically.” She recalled her excitement at receiving “...that big YES acceptance letter” in Spring, 2016, and the meticulous planning of how she and Kombo would “...be friends with everyone, hated by no one, and livin’ the life as a high schoolers moving up in the world.”

Aromolaran’s warning to incoming freshmen is time-management.  She added, “I didn’t really factor in the workload [this year]… when you watch shows such as Gossip Girl or movies like Mean Girls, the characters are never actually doing work. The protagonists have ninety-nine problems, but school work isn’t one of them.”

Sameera Fahmi ‘20, a former J-Schooler, thought that Freshman Year was “going to be a walk in the park.” High school at Hopkins did not live up to those expectations, though as the year progressed, Fahmi learned to “adapt to the new, more rigorous environment.” Before she graduates, Fahmi wants to “speak in Assembly without getting a nervous breakdown and to get an A+ on a Mr. Addison essay.”

Philip Delise ’20, a former J-Schooler entering high school, was initially concerned that the transition would be “pretty scary, kind of like seventh grade,” but noted that “...it turned out really fun and exciting.”

Delise’s goal for the remainder of high school is “to get more involved in the Hopkins community.” Delise finished, “From what I have heard, the Hopkins community is the best part of the Hopkins experience.”

Griffin Congdon ’20 shares a similar goal, hoping to further embrace the community by “making an impact on younger schoolmates.” He advises incoming freshmen “to be open to meeting and getting to know every classmate, because everyone truly has something interesting to offer. Everyone has some unknown hidden talent at Hopkins, and it all adds to a great community.”

Samantha D’Errico ’20 said, “Ninth grade was not as difficult as I believed it would be.” D’Errico, who entered Hopkins in seventh grade, recalled being “very shy and never [asking] questions in class.” She added, “I was scared to ask for help because I was afraid of how people would think of me.” D’Errico realized, however, that she “...wanted to grow as a student” and, accordingly, that urge for knowledge drove her forward.  Her advice for J-Schoolers is to never be afraid to ask for help and to “... keeping pushing through. You will always get through it.”

“Time flies like an arrow, and fruit flies like a banana,” said Mei Han ’20 to her “...new middle school buddies.” Han elaborated, “There’ll be times when you’re up late and you haven’t even started reading Julius Caesar or written conclusion to your lab report. What’s important is that you can get back on your feet during and learn from your mistakes. But if you do end up stuck, think on the bigger scale; who’s going to remember that grade you got on that quiz in ten years?” According to Han, Freshman Year is also “...full of great puns.”  Han added a final word of advice, “If you don’t fret or freak, you’ll be the freshest freshman on the freeway.”

Freshmen are often overlooked on the Hopkins campus, but these young high schoolers are eager to add to the community. In just a few short years, these same freshmen will be the upper-school leaders on The Hill. Watch out!
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