The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

Are Hackley Students who Enter in 9th Grade at a disadvantage compared to lifers?

Credit: Jordan Kleeger


Hackley is an amazing school with rigorous academics as well as hard-working students, but sometimes the workload can be hard to keep up with. Though most students become accustomed to the challenging assignments and schoolwork Hackley has to offer, it is clear that being academically successful is no easy feat. Many students, especially new ninth graders, felt that they had a difficult time transitioning into the flow of Hackley’s academics and figuring out how to thrive within our school environment.

An important question to consider is whether people believe that Hackley students entering ninth grade are at a disadvantage compared to lifers who have been at Hackley since Kindergarten. If so, how do these new students quickly grow accustomed to the academic aspects of Hackley?

One factor that can sometimes give lifers an advantage over new ninth graders is the fact that lifers are already used to Hackley’s academics, while new ninth graders come from schools with varying levels of academics that differ from Hackley.

Some schools have different curriculums or teaching styles than Hackley’s. “I felt that in a few classes, the level of difficulty was similar to my old school. In English particularly though, the switch to Hackley was very hard. I have been to three other schools, but none of them had the same intensity that Hackley English has,” said Sophomore Charles Sheehan.

In contrast, lifers have attended years of Hackley’s classes, so they have more experience with the curriculum.

“It is difficult to compare levels to other schools. I am used to Hackley’s rigorous academics, so while it is still difficult, it isn’t completely unexpected. In that sense, it is an advantage,” said Sophomore Annie Sheikh.

Sophomore and lifer Julia Feehan agrees. “Our classes from middle school prepared us for the high school classes, so we were used to Hackley’s teaching style,” she said, “This gave me an advantage compared to the new kids.”

If students feel that the new ninth graders are at a disadvantage, it is important to look at how they transition into the world of Hackley academics. Sophomore, Charles Sheehan said, “I tried to meet with my teachers a lot at the start of freshman year in order to learn their teaching style.” Using strategies such as meeting with teachers and becoming familiar with Hackley’s style of teaching are ways new students can smoothly transition into the school year.

It is also important for the teachers to help integrate the new students into the school year. Sophomore Dean Melissa Stanek spoke of how she helped her new freshman feel comfortable with Hackley’s academics. “First, teachers identify through grade level teacher and advisor meetings any students who are struggling in the early days“, she said. After gaining a sense of which students are struggling, they try to identify why and with what support they can offer to best help the student.

“Because we have such a low student-to-teacher and even lower student-to-advisor ratio, we can individualize support pretty early on,” Ms. Stanek said. The teachers and staff, as well as individual learning resources, make it as easy as possible for the new ninth graders to transition into the academic flow here at Hackley.

Despite the attention Hackley’s administration and faculty pay to this problem, many still think that new ninth graders are at a disadvantage to the lifers because of their previous schooling and the fact that lifers have already experienced nine years of Hackley education when beginning their high school journey.

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