Surpassing Apparent Social Disadvantages
by Eliza Scharfstein on Monday, September 30th, 2013
Many groups make up the Milton Academy campus, some of which developed before the start of school. At the beginning of my freshman year, as a new day student unable to attend the Transitions program, I was surrounded by students who had already formed friendships with each other. Students coming up from the Middle School had known each other for years, while students who had participated in the Transitions Program had spent a week before school getting to know each other. Even the boarders have an edge, spending the opening nights and many weekends together creating bonds. Meanwhile, the rest of the new day students and I found ourselves thrown into this mixing pot of already formulating friend groups to figure out our way by ourselves. I’ll admit, at the beginning of last year I was intimidated by the already existing friendships. However, as the year started, I realized that Milton provides many opportunities to meet not only other people in my situation, but the entire grade and school.
Though classes are a great setting to make new friends, these friendships only developed later in the year when students got more comfortable with each other. So how can a new Milton students make friends early on in the year? I have found that sports team and clubs are a great way to meet new people. In particular, freshman sports teams are a fantastic channel for new students to bond, as anyone can participate, regardless of skill or experience. These teams offer a fun way to spend afternoons with other fellow Class IV students and provide a strong basis for friendships and involvement in Milton’s athletic program. My memories from Freshman Girls’ Soccer, a team where I made great and lasting friendships, are unforgettable. The team gave me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone, a cornerstone of the Milton experience, and meet people I would not have otherwise interacted with. Even though I was just a walk-on, the Class IV play provided a similar bonding experience as the soccer team. In reflecting on her experience with this production, Juliana Rogoff (III) says that “it was a great way to not only meet such a large portion of the class but also to become good friends with [them].”
Though my experience with thirds teams has given me the chance to make friends with fellow freshmen with all different backgrounds, I have found that the best way to create bonds with sophomores and upperclassmen is to join clubs. For me, the speech team has been one of my highlights at Milton so far. While my initial goal was to simply improve my acting skills and explore my interest in the performing arts, I also developed great friendships with many older students. From laughing for hours at speech tournaments to helping me improve upon my next monologue, the upperclassmen really welcomed me into the group. These older students had a lot of advice about navigating Milton, and getting to know them made me feel part of the larger community and not just a member of a miniscule class.
Despite the already existing friendships, I have found that the Milton community is extremely friendly. Their friendships did not prevent me or others from getting to know them. In fact, many of my current friends originally moved up from the Middle School.
Instead of focusing on the social advantages other students have, we ought to appreciate all the opportunities to build friendships with which Milton has provided us. At the end of the day, we are all part of the same community.
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