The Lion's Tale

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My journey from MCPS to JDS

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My backpack was meticulously organized. I carefully selected my outfit and laid it out the night before. As I walked through the main doors, I was both eager and anxious. It was my first day of freshman year at a completely new school. 

I transferred to CESJDS in 2016 after attending Eastern Middle School, a humanities magnet program in Silver Spring. I wasn’t particularly religious and was getting a superb education, so why would I have wanted to leave? Any student who has transferred to JDS could answer this same question, but everyone’s answer would be unique. 

I had attended academically-accelerated magnet programs since third grade, where there was immense academic pressure and competition. The stress of such an environment wore me out, and the thought of spending high school there scared me. I could have attended Richard Montgomery High School, my district school, but it also houses one of the county’s most competitive magnet programs. I couldn’t bear the thought of attending as a normal student while seeing my friends at the magnet school.

Then I remembered JDS, a school I was already familiar with because my father worked as the Director of Alumni Relations for several years. I knew I loved the school and thought I would thrive in such an environment, so after months of discussion my parents, I enrolled for freshman year.

I faced a complete academic culture shock upon starting at JDS. I was used to coasting by in huge classes before, but all of a sudden teachers were giving me personalized attention. For the most part, teachers in my public schools only talked to students to deliver criticism or to reprimand them. At JDS, I learned that teachers are my advocates and that they all want what’s best for me.

While I did learn to ask them for help, the teachers at JDS brought out my own academic shortcomings. In public school, I did mediocre work and no one called me out. Now, though, teachers thoroughly evaluated my work and often told my parents and counselors when I struggled.

This new educational environment forced me to pinpoint the source of my struggles, which is when my biggest personal development occurred. I was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and depression, and was given extended time accommodations. I also started meeting with a therapist regularly to help me navigate all these changes. Though the first semester of ninth grade filled me with stress, after I got my mental health in check, my grades improved and I became more social.

These past two years have been a long journey for me, but it is not over. I left public school to escape the intense pressure and competition, but both are prevalent to an extent at JDS. I still need to improve my grades and become more organized, but compared to where I was before JDS, I am thriving. Looking back to my first day here, I can’t help but admire the progress I’ve made and remain driven as I move into junior year.

 

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 1 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on Aug. 28, 2018.

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