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High school a mixed experience for freshmen

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High school is more academically challenging than middle school, but it also offers more freedom.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The ninth grade is without a doubt the hardest time for a teenager. Starting high school is a very awkward and sometimes frightening process. Now that teens have had a chance to settle in, what have freshmen thought of their first six weeks of high school?"I was extremely nervous about high school," said Christina Westfall of George Washington High School. "I'm a very shy person at first and hate trying to make new friends or fit in. The homework and tests, along with the layout of the school, were my main concerns."Chrissy Jackson, also a GW student, wasn't too nervous about starting school, though she echoed her classmate's sentiments on the school's layout. "It's a huge school. I was just concerned about learning my way around."Herbert Hoover High School freshman Amber Ward said she expected high school to be easy if she maintained a "go with the flow" philosophy."I just kind of thought that if I had an attitude like that I wouldn't have to worry about all the judgmental things, such as what you wear, the price tag on your clothes or anything," she explained.However, in hindsight, she admitted it's not that simple. Still school isn't all bad."It's not as hard as I thought it would be," she said.Jackson said she enjoys the freedom high school brings. "I like that [the faculty] isn't as strict. We can wear what we want without getting yelled at by an administrator, and we don't have to go to lunch if we don't want to. It's just a lot more loose."Westfall said she most enjoys her new classic films class. "Films have always been fascinating, especially the more classic and unusual ones. We do a lot of essay work, which I think will help advance my writing, social and speaking skills."High school isn't all roses, though. The freshmen have found some negative aspects.
"I dislike our schedule layout," Westfall said. "Most of my core classes are after lunch, so I really have to book it to get everything I need and still get to class on time."Meanwhile, Ward said she doesn't enjoy the way students judge their peers on their appearance. "It's like if you're not a perfect Barbie doll, then you don't fit in. And to me, that's just a load of crap. People come in all different shapes and sizes."She said she doesn't feel like such judgment was a problem in middle school."Nobody really cared, as long as they were having fun," she said. "But now that high school has arrived, their perspective totally flipped."Both Jackson and Westfall are in honor classes. They agree that the classes are definitely harder than what they're used to.
"[High school] is more work and studying than anything. I've studied more in these last few weeks than I have my whole life," Westfall said. "But I like a challenge.""High school is full of the different stereotypes and judgmental people that I expected," said Ward, though she noted that, on the plus side, it also offers the freedom of expression she anticipated."But I'm glad to be in high school, and I hope to make a difference," she added.On the contrary, Westfall said high school isn't what she expected at all -- and that's a good thing."I haven't been bullied, and I have a lot of upperclassmen friends," she said. "But I'm still very nervous about high school, and I'm anxious about advancing."
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