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the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

Freshmen Fears

High school can be a roller coaster, especially when it’s your first ride. What do freshman face when they come to the US, and what can the next gen do to be successful?
Finn Kemp
Yazan on the left, Brady in the middle and Blair on the right.

High school is a turbulent journey filled with unexpected obstacles and exhilarating triumphs.  We decided to hit the halls to talk with a few freshmen (and upperclassmen) about the things that made freshman year tough.  

Meet Brady Jaynes and Blair Wootson.  They embarked on their high school adventure just this August as incoming freshmen.  While they’ve been relishing their newfound freedom in the upper school, their initial weeks weren’t all smooth sailing.

Blair Wootson, a rising swimming star at Saint Stephen’s, has accumulated a large following on social media as a journalist and influencer.  This makes Wootson rather unique.  Wootson has a colorful personality, and as a result, he has a tendency to attract attention.  Wootson candidly shared his secret to blocking out negativity and dealing with gossip, something we can all relate to.

“Imagine sitting next to people who talk behind your back – it’s nerve-wracking,” Wootson revealed, referring to the pesky rumors that threatened to disrupt his academic journey. “But over the summer, I realized that others’ opinions shouldn’t hold me back.”

As for Brady Jaynes, he had a hard time getting to meet new people, and getting the conversation to start rolling seemed to give him the most trouble. He is a newcomer to Saint Stephen’s and talked to us about what his key piece is when starting conversations with new people.

“My biggest fear was probably meeting new people,” Jaynes said. Something people can often relate to when being put in a new environment. 

Jaynes noted he was  “gaining the confidence to initiate a chat, but Saint Stephen’s is amazing, and Max, a friend of mine, introduced me to a lot of new people.” 

Making friends might be the trickiest step, but Brady emphasized that confidence is your best wingman. If you start the conversation boldly, you’ll find yourself at ease.

Even our esteemed Saint Stephen’s seniors once wrestled with very similar issues as they adapted to the high school format as freshmen. Yazan Al-Bataineh, a seasoned Saint Stephen’s senior, thought back on how he overcame his problems back when he was a freshman.

“It took me a solid three months to make friends. I was incredibly shy, but then things clicked, and I made friends really easily. Plus, there was the added pressure of being my brother’s successor – everyone talked about him and his popularity.”

Personally, as a new student from a foreign country, coming into my first day of an American high school, I can also attest that meeting new people can be difficult. Personally, I am really bad with names and have serious trouble remembering them, but I think that if people just put a little effort into talking to new people, new relationships can always be built.

I think it’s important to think about what I say before I speak with people, so I don’t go up and say something different from what I intended to say. 

These freshman stories all share a common thread: they’re filled with challenges that go beyond just academics. These resilient freshmen are poised to conquer their diverse obstacles. We’re all going through something, but it’s important to embrace the journey through our challenges and help each other. 

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About the Contributor
Finn Kemp
Finn Kemp, Staff Writer
Finn Kemp is a new addition to Saint Stephens and the Gauntlet, with great communication skills and a great understanding of human interactions. He is a high-level athlete, which also helps him understand situations and people better and relate with people who show effort, determination, and respect. He is currently a writer for the Gauntlet and his favorite show is either Breaking Bad or Demon Slayer. Kemp moved from Luxembourg and has 3 pets, two cats and one dog. His favorite color is light blue because of the ocean and water.


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