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Something New--Tennessean Takes on Franklin County

Freshman Amelia McDevitt familiarizes herself with FCHS's campus. Despite her being from Tennessee, she is just as new to the high school as all the other freshmen. (Courtesy Photo)

By Amelia McDevitt--Eagle Staff Writer

Many students don’t know me, and I most likely don’t know them either. I'm a freshman who is new to not only Franklin County High School, but Virginia as a whole, and it's definitely been an adjustment.

At the end of eighth grade, I had a big decision to make. I could stay with the same twelve kids I had gone through elementary and middle school with (yes, there were only 12 people in my grade) or I could try something completely different.

I knew staying would mean limited opportunities for my education and for my social life (really, who wants to date the kid they saw eat post-it notes in first grade.) Luckily, my mom had just moved to Callaway and I had the opportunity to move here and start over, so I said "Why not? Let's try something new."

I came from a school in South Pittsburg, Tennessee that suffered from little to no resources or extra activities; there was only a yearbook committee, robotics, and safety patrol. It’s been a huge change to come to a school that is packed with options for clubs. My plan is to try a few different clubs and see what I might like. This year, I’m out of my comfort zone and trying out the newspaper club (can you tell?).

My former school had 3 separate buildings: one for elementary, one for middle, and one for high school. The building for the high school also housed the gym and cafeteria, leaving little room for the four classrooms that housed the entirety of the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior classes. There were a total of 221 students. After being with the same small group of people for one’s entire school career, it’s easy to fall into a friendship, but what a six-year-old doesn’t yet know is that they’re stuck with these people for better or worse.

Conversely, just one grade of students here is double what I'm used to. During my first week on campus, it was hard to find all of my classes because I couldn’t stop to look at a map in a sea of people moving in every direction. Going from an almost deserted hallway to having to squeeze my way through is overwhelming.

I mean, where on Earth are all of these teenagers even coming from?! It’s like a swarm of angry hornets racing to the next class and the stairwells are especially awful with everyone pushing and shoving, but not getting far. After a few weeks though, and finally knowing where I’m going, it’s not so bad anymore. I do wish there was more time to get from class to class, though.

Speaking of classes, at first, I was overwhelmed with all of the opportunities that FCHS had to offer, and to be truthful, I still am. The classes that stuck out the most were culinary arts, all of the languages to choose from (even though people keep telling me learning a language is hard, I am still excited to try!), and the nursing program. Being able to graduate with a high school diploma and a nursing certificate is an amazing way to start a career.

I also couldn’t believe that FCHS offers a laptop to every student. In my old school, you would only use computers if you were testing or if you needed to look something up for a project, but taking a computer home never happened!

Virtual learning during COVID was really hard at my old school because of this lack of equipment. Many students didn’t own a computer so the school provided Kindle Fires. When students tried to open an extra tab, they would end up closing out of their virtual classroom. Luckily every student in my class had access to the internet or that would have been a whole different set of problems.

Students also receive much more educational and career assistance here. My old school only offered help if you raised your hand in class, there were no after-school tutoring or remediation periods. At FCHS, a guidance counselor is assigned to every student to advise with scheduling conflicts and applying to college; my last school only had one counselor for the entire school. She wasn't much help in finding a college outside of Tennessee, and mostly just talked about not doing drugs or vaping.

Back in South Pittsburg, it never seemed like the teachers cared very much. They always seemed more eager to go home than to help a kid who was struggling. So far, my experience with teachers here has been that they are more dedicated to the students and actually interested in the subjects they teach. I’ve never really liked any of my teachers in the past, but I’ve got a couple of favorites here already.

I left behind a best friend in Tennessee, but we decided to go classic to keep in touch by sending each other Victorian-style letters. In Virginia, I can see myself becoming friends with a few people, but most seem like they want to stay in the cliques fostered in middle school. Nonetheless, with so many kids in this school, everyone is kind of the new kid.

In almost every way imaginable, moving schools has been life-changing and strange, but I much prefer this something new in Virginia to the old in Tennessee.

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