Combatting the Arrival to a New School

Lucy Goldberg '26 Polygon

by Lucy Goldberg ’26, Contributing writer of the Polygon Middle School Special Edition

Many Poly Prep students who have known this community for so long (or even these past few years), may still remember their first impressions of the place they might now call a second home. How are new students welcomed to Poly, and how has that affected their first impressions of the school before they became part of the community?

In the case of Sabrina Rapaport, a new 8th grader at Poly, “the first day was really hard because I didn’t know where anything was,” she said. But like many other students, she explained that her friends and teachers helped her throughout the transition to her new school by saying “Hi” in the hallways and showing her the ways around those very halls.

Rapaport has been adjusting to her new school, but she hasn’t been doing it alone. She has a twin sister, Kate, going to Poly as well. Rapaport said that she feels at Poly “there’s a lot of competition going on [within the eighth grade]…[so] sometimes it’s good when no one I know is in my class and then Kate is in my class.”

The Welcoming Process at Poly: How the deans create a warm environment
Middle School Dean
Alia Carponter-Walker

On the other side of the situation, Middle School dean Alia Carponter-Walker said that the Poly faculty try to welcome students with orientation and private meetings with their deans. But that is not all—she also gave some inside details for what the future may hold for Poly’s welcoming process. According to Carponter-Walker, “We are going to try to continue to do Poly Pals [next year], which stopped in the first year of the pandemic.” Poly Pals is supposed to pair a new student with a student who has been at Poly since at least the previous year. From the perspective of a dean, Carponter-Walker believes this is a great way for students to gain comfort within their school.

Another tactic for deans attempting to build comfort amongst Poly’s community is by connecting multiple students with similar interests. But how does the faculty form these strong relationships with their students? For Carponter-Walker, she had a really close relationship with her college counselor who inspired her to work in education. Especially “the way that he welcomed us and also how he treated us like adults and gave us a safe place,” she said. As a dean, she now tries to replicate that relationship that allowed her to feel more comfortable with her own students.

Getting input from current students and faculty is a great way to continue making newcomers feel welcome in the Poly community, which Carponter-Walker said helps improve the following years—especially when “a lot of what we are doing for new kids is revamping for the next year.”

Middle School students with dean
Alia Carponter-Walker connecting with students.

Note: This article was originally published in the Polygon Special Middle School Edition, January 2022