A deep dive on upperclassmen’s perception of freshmen


Farrah Zerola

Senior pushes past freshmen who are blocking the hallway

Farrah Zerola and Grace Kirk, Co-Features Editor and Co-Editor-In-Chief

   Throughout pop culture, high school freshmen are portrayed as small, annoying, and generally hated by upperclassmen. But does that carry over to our reality? And is this inherent dislike apparent at WHS?

   While WHS may not be as harsh on freshmen as Hollywood depicts, they are still the newest to high school, and therefore are not yet versed in the culture. Many things that freshmen do unknowingly annoy upperclassmen who feel that they should know better. 

   “I think that they clog up the hallways and some of them don’t really know the norms. I will be going to class and they will often be in the middle of the hallway making it difficult to get to class,” said senior Nora Callahan.

   While freshmen likely do not realize this behavior is problematic, other choices that some freshmen have made are more intentional. In the past two years, there has been a pattern of freshmen purposely violating school rules, not just hallway etiquette. Even freshmen admit that they sometimes cross the line intentionally.

   “We have the most suspensions out of every year. [The upperclassmen] have a good reason to be unfriendly because we’re weird, we’re freshmen,” said freshman Sophia Tian.

   Juniors and seniors have been at the school the longest and have observed traditions throughout their earlier years in high school. Getting older at the high school means more opportunity and seniority. Because freshmen don’t know these advantages, and they seem so far away, they tend to care less about them, or they may not be aware of traditions that upperclassmen see as important.

   “Tradition? What do you mean?” said freshman Alfred Chow.

   This lack of knowledge is understandable as the freshmen have not gotten the chance to experience these traditions, but that doesn’t change the fact that upperclassmen still find these gaps in understanding annoying.

   There is a large difference between being a student at the middle school versus at the high school, and teachers recognize this as well. They get to observe their students as they grow and mature. By the time that the freshman they taught is a senior, that student has had several years to develop and become a different person.

   “The difference between a 14 year-old and an 18 year-old developmentally is a really big difference,” said physics teacher Gita Foster. “If you think about the difference between a one year-old and a five year-old, those four years are really different.” 

    Teachers acknowledge that this difference between freshmen and upperclassmen can create tension. They understand that this is the reality of having such a wide range of ages interacting in one school.

   “So are the freshmen significantly less mature than the seniors? Of course they are. They are four years younger…. Does it surprise me that an 18 year-old does not really want to hang out with a 14 year-old? Not at all,” said Foster.

   Even though freshman year may feel like a long time ago to seniors, some still remember their first year at WHS, which greatly contrasts with their final year and highest status at the school. Instead of the seniors having more sympathy for the freshman because of these past experiences, some of them choose to repeat the behaviors that they received when they were freshman.

    For example, many sports teams have ways of humbling the freshmen. From making them get certain supplies such as the water jug or medical kits, to embarrassing them in the hallways, upperclassmen find many ways to make sure the freshmen know their “place.”

   “I remember as we were freshmen on the soccer team how we had a little tradition called ‘Freshmen Spotted’  where the upperclassmen would take pictures of us in the hallway and try to catch us in embarrassing moments,” said senior Maggie Niemann. “I definitely embarrass the freshmen in the hallways. We don’t do the same things, but we make sure they know they’re freshmen.” 

   Freshmen are almost always picked on by upperclassmen, whether it’s because of the upperclassmen’s superiority complex or because the freshman are disturbing the delicate ecosystem that is a high school, and many freshmen admit that they will likely poke fun at freshman when they are upperclassmen.

   “It’s just tradition,” said freshman Chelian Subbiah.

   Because upperclassmen are expected to be leaders of the school by the administration, it can be challenging to show freshmen how high school works when they do not listen to the advice that upperclassmen have to offer.

   “I think they could benefit from trying to learn from the older kids rather than trying to be the older kids,” said senior Trevor Gold.