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Stereotypes often don't fit

April 10, 2007|by ROBERT KELLER/Pulse Correspondent

Have you heard the whole freshman-senior stereotype? You know, how freshmen are afraid that seniors will push them around and be mean to them, and how seniors believe all freshmen are immature?

But not all freshmen and seniors are like this.

"I don't think the theory is true," said David Albin, a freshman at North Hagerstown High School.

"Every freshman thinks seniors are scary," North High senior Scott Stevens said. "(They're) not really that scary. If you give them respect, you have nothing to worry about."

I have been in high school for less than a year. Certainly some seniors are mean to some freshmen; certainly some freshmen are immature. But 98 percent of the time the stereotype is exaggerated. Freshmen have nothing to fear from seniors.

Most of the time seniors either will leave freshmen alone or will be friendly to them. The way seniors treat freshmen depends partly on how they present themselves - in the halls, in classrooms, etc. If freshmen act like young adults, seniors will treat them like young adults. If freshmen run around the halls screaming like children or yell in a classroom or get sent to the principal every day, seniors will treat freshmen like they are immature.

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I also have seen the other side of the story. I have been with seniors in my band class, in my life skills class and in extracurricular activities. Like most people, seniors are willing to be friendly if you share common interests. When I was in marching band, I made friends with many seniors - we all shared an interest in band and found we had other interests in common.

Becoming friends with a senior is like making friends with anybody. Check out these tips:

· Join a group in school where student from different grades mix. If you play an instrument, join marching band. If you sing, join chorus. Do you like theater? Sports? A foreign language? There are clubs for lots of interests in high school. This will allow you to get to know students in all grades.

· Use the buddy program. Some schools, like North High, have a senior buddy program. An incoming freshman is assigned to a senior. One day a week, the freshman buys or brings their senior buddy breakfast; the senior buddy buys or brings lunch for the freshman. They sit together for lunch.

· Another way to get to know a senior is to start a conversation with him or her. This can lead to a friendship. But don't talk nonstop. Remember that half of a conversation is listening. Let the other person have time to talk.

· Above all, don't believe rumors that all seniors are mean or all freshmen are immature. There are no absolutes.

"I don't believe the freshman/senior theory is universal," North High senior Quinn Gelestino said. "I know a few freshmen. If a freshman is immature, then the theory holds true (for that person), but it's basically just a stereotype."

And not all students behave like stereotypes.

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