The Class of 2021 has been through their first semester in the turmoil of high school. While ninth grade is stressful with new classes, new rules, and more pressure, ninth grade English teacher Ms. Anni Knox thinks that students are doing well.
“They are adjusting quite well, I think the eighth grade team did a very good job preparing the kids for ninth grade. So what I’m seeing is a really strong freshman class, academically,” Ms. Knox said.
The freshman are currently working on their Passion Project for English class. The project is a combination of writing and some other classes, like Physics, Photojournalism, Art, History, Theatre, and more, to create their own project with total creative freedom. Ms. Knox and English teacher Ms. Jamie Langley are the main faculty in charge of this project, and they are working with many different people to help the students have the best experience possible.
“The passion project is meant to be an authentic publication opportunity for students to design and develop their own project that they’re super excited about,” Ms. Knox said.
The project is the Interdisciplinary Unit (IDU), the main project that interconnects the classes, for the ninth graders, and the students are in full preparation mode. They have just chosen their project focus and are working on the first steps.
“I’m making a cookbook with 15 recipes, dedicated to 15 years of life. It’s kind of dedicated to my great grandmother…I’m going to make the cookbook and bind it, so I’m interested to try that,” Anabelle Glass (9) said.
Da’Ryah Taylor (9), is working on her project, with a more artistic, historic approach.
“My passion project for ELA is a slam poem. The community I’m talking to is young black girls, or young colored girls in general… I have the option of performing at South By Southwest so I think that could be really exciting for me,” Taylor said.
As the project is going on, the students are also handling the usual tests, projects, memorization, and more. The stress of starting high school is not unknown to the Class of 2021, but at the same time, it’s not so bad.
“Ninth grade, for me, going really well. It’s a lot less stressful than 8th grade. The most stressful thing is balancing, and time management,” Glass said.
Taylor has her own take on the ninth grade experience, adding her own views on the stress of freshman year.
“It’s really laid back and I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s definitely one of my best years. The most stressful thing is priorities, school wise.” Taylor said.
With all the stress, the project may be just another weight on the backs of the ninth graders, but it could also be a nice break from the structured work students are used to.
“The passion project allows for an area of choice, and I think choice is the fuel for exploring and going deeper into something a person is interested in. I could tell everyone what to do, but I don’t think the quality of work would be as high,” Ms. Knox said.