Welcome to FHN, no matter where you’re from

By Daniel Bodden

It’s a day of firsts. The first day of high school for freshmen. The first time new editorial cartoon finalstudents stepped into an unfamiliar school. The first time it sunk in that the seniors have now reached their final year of high school. And, for some, the first time that they boarded a bus for 30 minutes to get to a school in a different town with different people, in the hopes of receiving a better education. None of those things were probably looked forward to or comfortable for the people experiencing them. No one is tripping over themselves wanting to take their place.

So, today as the new freshmen, new students, and transfer students from Normandy High School show up for their first day at FHN, it shouldn’t be that crazy of an idea for those of us familiar with North to welcome them. Whatever the reason, they are all here at a new place where they may know no one, may not know how to get to their classes, and may not even be able to open their locker. But they’re here. These are supposed to be some of the best years in a person’s life, and we should do our best to make them feel welcome enough to get involved and make memories that will last.

Transfer students from Normandy should be especially welcomed. There has been a lot of controversy and concern about this situation over the summer, and ‘welcoming’ is the last word that would be used to describe it. Students, parents, and community members alike have taken to social media and said things that can’t be unsaid. People voiced offensive, ridiculous and sometimes racist opinions at a town hall meeting held in July. Everything from making school begin so early that students won’t transfer to creating unreasonable class size limits to prevent adding students was suggested. Normandy parents made pleas for FHSD members to be more considerate and understanding which elicited shouts of ‘Go back to Normandy’ from some of the crowd. All this would lead you to believe that these must be some terrible students transferring, right? Too bad no one has actually met them yet.

People need to realize that character matters more than numbers and places. Look beyond test scores, grades, discipline numbers, and schools. People deserve a chance to be welcomed and an opportunity to show who they are without numbers and stereotypes speaking louder than their voices and actions. True, some concerns are reasonable and may be correct, but right now is the time to get to know the transfer students instead of assuming you “know” them already.

This is about more than just transfer students. It’s about including all new people and helping them find a place at North. Instead of laughing, help a freshman find the way to their next class. Instead of ignoring, introduce yourself to a new student. Instead of staring, start a conversation with a transfer student. Let’s make it a day of more firsts. The day someone met their first friend at FHN. The first time that a person took the time to make someone feel included. The first time someone felt safe and valued at their school. The first time someone stepped out of their comfort zone and met a new person. After all, at some point, everyone will experience the feeling of being somewhere where they know no one, experience the moment of not knowing what to do, or experience the fear of everyone judging them. Be who you want someone to be for you when that day comes.

So, no matter who you are, how many times you’ve stepped inside FHN, how far away you live, or what you look like, let’s make it a great year for everyone. And, if nobody has said it to you yet, let us be the first: welcome to Francis Howell North. We’re glad you’re here.

[For up to date information on the Normandy transfer, visit FHNtoday.com.]