What's In A Last Name? During Hybrid Times, A Lot.

Ayanna Desai

I looked up the top 120 last names in the US and I found out that about 40% of the most common last names were A-K and the other 60% were L-Z.

While we will soon all be back together (fingers crossed), we spent the first month of school hanging out in classrooms and hallways and in the plaza with our closest friends...or just people who happen to have a last name in our letter cohort.

In a survey we sent out to the upper school, 34.6% of Lovett students said that they wanted to be in the other letter group, and 65.4% said that they were happy in their letter group. 

On the positive end, the letter day split has allowed students to get closer to other people and build stronger relationships, as well as keep their previous relationships. 

“I feel like I have definitely gotten closer to some people,” said Walker Turner, grade 9. “I’m not sure I’ve grown apart as much, but I have definitely gotten closer.” Still, Walker said that she was curious about what it would be like to live in the opposite letter day, just for a day, to see all of the people she doesn’t normally see. 

For some students, it took them a little time to adjust. Ava Brown said when she first found out about the letter day split, she didn’t think she had that many friends on her day, and she was a little bit disappointed. It wasn’t until she got to school on the first day that she saw how many people were actually on her letter day. She said that she thought school would be really bad and boring at first, but now, after a few weeks of the hybrid learning, it seems “almost normal.”

When I emailed Mr. Boswell about how they decided where to split the alphabet, he told me that, “There's a difference of about 18 students between the two cohorts. We made the split based on numbers for 6-12, since those were the grades starting in hybrid learning.” He also let me know that while 9th grade is fairly close in the number of students in each cohort, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade have a bigger range, with the senior class having the biggest difference (A-K: 79 and L-K: 62).

I was wondering how the number of Lovett students in each cohort matched up with the statistics for America as a whole. I found out that out of the over 150,000 different last names in the US, Smith is the most common, closely followed up by Johnson. I looked up the top 120 last names and I found out that about 40% of the most common last names were A-K and the other 60% was L-Z. This somewhat fits with grades 9 and 10, but it’s the reverse for grades 11 and 12.

Given how important our last names have been to determining our fate at the beginning of this year, I was curious if there were other ways our names can shape our lives.

In an article in Business Insider magazine from 2015 called “13 Surprising Ways Your Name Affects Your Success,” the author, Jenna Goudreau, looks at research on the topic of names. Two of those “surprising ways” have to do with last names. According to one study, if your ”last name is closer to the beginning of the alphabet, you could get into a better school” and you’re  also “more likely to be an impulse spender.” And in an MTV.com article from the same year, Carl Williot writes that, “studies and surveys suggest having a last name at the end of the alphabet could adversely affect one's psychology, financial status and career prospects.” Neither article suggests last names have an out-sized impact on your life (clearly there are millions of people who went to “good schools,” are well employed, and haven’t wasted all their money), but it’s still pretty crazy to think that it can have any influence at all. 

Ultimately, students, regardless of their last names, just want to get back on (and remain on) campus. Ava Brown said that she didn’t think “anyone would come back at all” or “everyone would go home and then go back to virtual after a few days.” In fact, when she saw some school shoes she really wanted to get for the first day of school, her mom wouldn’t allow her to get them, because she thought that school was going to be all virtual soon so there would be no point. 

I remember talking to all my friends and most said that there was no chance school would stay in session and some people were even placing bets on how long school would last. I wonder what I would have thought if someone had told me that, instead of everybody going virtual after a few weeks, we would all be back on campus. 
I know that Ava (B)rown and I, Ayanna (D)esai are excited to meet up with Walker (T)urner when all of the freshmen come back to school. 

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

Copyright © 2020 Lovett School    |    Privacy Policy