SHS Fails To Be Adequate Environment for Many New Students

By Rachel Spears — Correspondent

Sharon High School receives new students from around the country and world every year.

Ranging in grade from freshmen to seniors, transfer students make up a small proportion of SHS students. The addition of such students from Kansas, Delaware, California, and elsewhere have added to the diversity of the student body and provided differing perspectives on various functions at the school. Despite this, they have also faced many challenges, socially as well as academically. 

Sharon High School has a reputation of being an excellent school, ranked #24 in Massachusetts according to U.S. News and World Report, making it a magnet for transfers. “It’s a good school, it’s a good education, and it has some pretty chill kids,” said a junior who transferred in 2022. 

“I was excited to be at a school known for very good academics and I looked forward to being around other students that also valued education and learning,” another student said. 

The process of enrolling can be difficult for students moving to Sharon, a senior who was new to the school in August reflected on the troublesome process. “It was a very hard and lengthy process to get enrolled. The process was continuously getting delayed,” they said.

“There was a lot of miscommunication within the school system and administration,” they added.

Other students who transferred in 2021 experienced similar issues. One expressed their frustration about being placed into incorrect classes.   “I had a lot of trouble enrolling in the right academic classes…partially because I was not given any placement tests. Not a lot of thought was put into what classes I should take in order to thrive, and I struggled a lot that year,” they said. 

Another transfer student was placed in classes that did not match their level. “I’m not challenged enough…it’s kind of frustrating because I feel like I was kind of thrown in without my opinions being taken into consideration,” they said. 

Students coming from other schools have had to make changes to their schedules and class lists. “Here I had to adjust my schedule a little bit,” said one student. And another student said: “there were not a lot of options.” 

“The only downfall, however, is the pace at which this school runs at. Due to the pace that my old school runs at, I was quite advanced when I came here to Sharon; I ended up taking all 12th grade classes in 11th grade,” said a fifth transfer student about the class enrollment process.

The Counseling Department at SHS works closely with transfer students to create schedules and soften the transition but one student described their inconsistency. “I was tossed around for a little while… that was a whole thing,” they said about their counselor.

Students who arrive at SHS in or after 11th grade do not receive a high school GPA, complicating the college application process. A transfer student to move to Sharon at the beginning of their junior year said that they  “have an issue with the counseling department and their policy of not recalculating a students GPA if they move to the district in 11th grade. This makes it very frustrating and difficult to gauge what GPA you have in order to gauge the amount of effort you should put in to impress colleges.”

That student also shared their frustrations with the technology used at SHS. “The technology that the school uses here is very clunky and disorganized,” they said. They suggested that switching to Microsoft products might improve the “amount of productivity and organization” in Sharon as well as foster more interaction between students and teachers. 

When asked about feeling welcomed by staff, a different senior expressed disappointment with their lack of communication. “Some of my teachers, and administrators have not reached out to me in my transition,” the student said. 

That student was not the only person to mention taking issue with the communication between students and staff. “One major issue I have with this school is the lack of responsibility. When compared to my old school, the amount of care that is provided at SHS  is not sufficient enough. The staff takes a bit too long to answer simple questions, or does not know the answer to them flat out,” they said. 

 “I would also say that the communication skills of the administration to staff and students is atrocious.” they added.

One transfer student felt welcomed by other students upon their arrival in September 2021.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how the students quickly included me and made me feel welcome,” they said. “On the second day here, one of my close friends took me under her wing and introduced me to the in’s-out of the school,” they added. 

Another student felt unwelcome at SHS. “It’s not a welcoming place for people who have different points of view. It’s very group thinkish,” they said.

They blamed the lack of welcome on the closed mentality of the student body. “Everyone here is just so convinced that they’re right and that what they are saying is right, that they refuse to listen to anything else or to the fact that other people have different experiences,” they said. 

They also found that the school’s environment contributed to this. “I’m not Sharon’s biggest fan…the atmosphere is very suffocating. I know a lot of people here who are really unhappy and I think it’s just a little bit of an unhappy place and there are a lot of comparisons,” they said. 

Students at SHS have created a close community which makes it challenging for new students, especially new seniors, to find friends, shared a senior. “In the first few months, I felt kind of welcomed by the students but it felt less like they wanted a friend and more of a reward or a new toy on the shelf,” they said.

 “Overall, I feel like an outsider of this small knit community,” they added.

Another third student expressed a similar sentiment. “Most people were not looking to make friends in the middle of high school, when it is only a few years to graduation,” they said.

Even when I sat with others at lunch, the topics often included activities that I was never a part of, or reminiscing about previous years,” that senior added.

The social transition, especially for upperclassmen, into the SHS community left some students feeling “pushed away.” A senior described how they felt more than one year after transferring. “I felt a lot more alienated than I felt welcome but I am really really thankful for the people that I have met,” they said.

When asked about whether or not they would recommend SHS to other potential transfer students, some of the students said “no.” “I would not recommend new students to come to Sharon. After moving here I have felt out of place from the rest of the students and I do not feel a part of the community,” said a transfer senior. 

A student who moved to Sharon at the beginning of their junior year said that they were treated with respect but does not think that other students are aware of how difficult it can be to “break into friend groups when everyone else has known each other for many, many years.” They want other students at SHS to know: “taking the time to get to know a new student will make them feel appreciated and they may bring a new perspective that you haven’t thought about before.”

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