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Private to Public School — A Fresh Start

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

by KATE PECK - Annie Spaletto transitions from private school to public.

Making a splash: Annie Spaletto is already one of the top athletes on the swim team after only one season. She will be swimming the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley along with relays at sectionals.

WESTFIELD, Ind (Jan. 22, 2020) - The first day of high school is scary enough, but having to go from walking in tiny halls with the same people for years to stepping into bigger, new halls with new people is even scarier, but it can be a fresh start.

After going to a small private school for around 10 years, moving to WHS was a big change for Annie Spaletto. She went from a school of about 500 to a school of about 2,100 when she chose to attend WHS. There were many changes for her in this transition.

“Moving to such a big school has been kind of hard, but with so many more kids I feel more comfortable being myself,” Spaletto said. “I finally have the chance to make new friends. Since my old school was so small, our friend groups were pretty much set from the start.”

In eighth grade Spaletto was in a class of only 42 kids. There are 636 freshmen at WHS. In such a small class, people who were different stood out; however, in a school of over 2,100, it’s easy to be yourself and be overlooked.

“We had pretty much no choice in what classes we took,” Spaletto said. “We had to take the basic classes like math and that kind of thing, and it was a Catholic school, so we took religion. We didn’t even really get to choose our electives, they were mostly chosen for us.”

With such a small amount of students, there weren’t a whole lot of teachers either. With only around 35 teachers it’s hard to offer many class choices. Now, at Westfield, there are so many options, and it’s the student’s choice.

“Sports and clubs were not a big deal,” Spaletto said. “We couldn’t have many teams with the number of students attending the school. There were only like three clubs, and I didn’t even know there were any until I was in eighth grade, but at Westfield, I’ve already gotten involved. I’m on the swim team, and I’m a part of Dance Marathon.”

Sports and clubs give Annie an opportunity to branch out and meet new people at WHS. Her previous school was pretty “cliquey,” according to Spaletto, so it’s a big change to be able to be friends with anyone in the school. While extracurriculars are a great opportunity, they can also be a big-time commitment and take up time that could be used for homework.

“Oh, I definitely have less homework now,” Spaletto said. “I used to go home and do hours of homework. It was like they thought we didn’t do anything, like we just went home and sat around. I was swimming then too, so I was pretty busy. I would actually say I’m busier now though, because of swimming and clubs.”

Instead of CORE time, she had recess all the way up to eighth grade, so all homework had to be done at home. Since there weren’t many extracurriculars, teachers could give more homework; however, high school is more stressful because it actually affects life, according to Spaletto.

“I would say she’s busier now,” friend Ava Friedman said. “I just think there’s more pressure, and she’s a lot more focused on swimming. She’s doing well though. This can be a rough transition.”

Since sports are a much bigger deal at Westfield, they can come with a lot of added pressure to perform, and they take up a lot of time. Spaletto practices with the swim team eight times a week, and the team has meets almost every week. With the end of the regular season approaching, there’s even more pressure to do well because spots on the championship line-up are competitive. Especially with grades to worry about.

“I had better grades in junior high, but that’s probably because the teachers knew me well,” Spaletto said. “They knew how to teach me so I would understand, and it was a really comfortable environment for me. I liked how laid back it was too. We could just leave the classroom at any time to go to the bathroom or whatever.”

The parochial school had more relaxed rules in the sense the students could just leave the room, but Westfield has more relaxed rules in relation to the dress code according to Spaletto. Students had to wear very specific uniforms. Being able to choose what to wear is a plus for Spaletto.

“She’s definitely become more outgoing,” Friedman said. “She’s been able to grow into her personality, and finding her style has helped that for sure.”

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