A swim in the fishtank


Alex Helm

Freshman Emma Bredenkamp works with her iPad in the freshmen center. She uses the study areas to complete assignments.

It was the first day of school, and freshman Emma Bredenkamp had to get to the band hall. All the way from the art room by the gyms. On the other side of the school. She felt lost and overwhelmed by all the people, but was determined to make it through the stampede of students in the commons.


The crowd that accumulated in the cafeteria turned into a swarm of giant people. She ran around upperclassmen and ducked under arms and backpacks. Trying to navigate the main campus, especially the commons, is difficult for someone who is only 5 feet 2 inches tall. As she finally reached the band hall, relief washed over her. Though she figured out not to go through the commons the next day, Bredenkamp still had a lot more adjusting to do from middle school.


“My day is quite a bit busier,” Bredenkamp said. “But I enjoy learning and my teachers are nice and understanding if you’re slightly late because you have to run from one side of the school to the other.”


She has to travel from the art room to the band hall, then all the way back to the freshman center just so she can eat lunch. Next up is Humanities and pre-AP Geometry in the freshman center, one downstairs and the next upstairs. She walks back and forth across the entire main campus a total of three times a day, not to mention going up and down stairs in the freshman center.


But despite all the walking, she’s gotten to know more students, especially some older girls in the band who help her out with homework. Her month of summer band camp also helped her to prepare for the first day. She had already been playing her flute in the band for a long time, and made friends in her section.


“I know more people now,” Bredenkamp said. “It’s really nice because I’ll walk through the hallway and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, they’re in band,’ and they’ll smile and wave at me.”


Bredenkamp’s new band friends have made her feel more comfortable, especially since they have so many good memories from their month of marching camp. One thing she remembers the most is she and her friends’ obsession with Tum-E Yummies, a blue energy drink they would buy during breaks.


Transitioning might be a bit of a change. But hopefully most people have had a few classes in the main campus so they know what it looks like and can find their way around.”

— Emma Bredenkamp, freshman


“There was a whole vending machine filled up with just Tum-E Yummies,” Bredenkamp said. “I had 17. We got the drum majors hooked.”


Though her older band friends have made her feel welcome, she likes being around freshmen at the new campus. She knows a lot of the students from middle school, and is more relaxed being around kids her age. She said the new freshman campus has ultimately helped ease her transition into high school.


“Having all my classes in the main campus would be kind of hard because you’re instantly thrown in with kids you don’t know whereas with the freshmen center you’re more eased into the idea of high school,” Bredenkamp said.


Her favorite part of the new campus is the collaborative workspace. She and her friends complete math problems on the dry erase tables outside geometry teacher Sarah Wagner’s room. To Bredenkamp, the work areas help her to practice and understand her work better. They also use technologically-advanced work areas to turn in assignments and work on group projects.


“I feel like [they’ve adapted] pretty well,” Wagner said. “I feel like kids use that kind of technology all the time anyway so it’s not like it’s brand new to them.”


Bredenkamp feels like she’s able to collaborate more with her peers and teachers both inside and outside of the classroom. To her, the new freshman building affects the way the students learn because teachers can work problems from anywhere in the room using their iPads and Smart TVs, which are similar to projectors. Yet, she still knows that next year the move from the freshman campus to the main campus will be a shift.


“Transitioning might be a bit of a change,” Bredenkamp said. “But hopefully most people have had a few classes in the main campus so they know what it looks like and can find their way around.”


Though it might be difficult at first, Bredenkamp is excited, albeit a little nervous, about attending the main campus next year as a sophomore. She knows that she’ll have to find her way around again, but she won’t feel as lost as she did on her first day of high school this year. Although she will have to face the swarm in the commons more often, she is looking forward to her next three years at the school.


“It will be scary and probably a little nerve-wracking,” Bredenkamp said. “It’s like restarting school all over again in some ways. But I like making new friends.”