Oh, They're The (Fill in the Blank) Grade...
Posted 09/22/2016 07:56AM

With so many student personalities at each grade level, you might think it would be hard to generalize about any particular grade, but that doesn’t stop us from saying things like “They’re the athletic grade,” or “They’re more academic,” or “They’re seniors, but they look really young.”

Over time, grades develop personalities and reputations, and I thought it would be interesting to find out how and why. I spoke with students and administrators to ask them about this phenomenon, and find out what they think about the current upper school grades.

Senior Ted Quarterman thinks that “grade-level personalities stem from the attitudes that other grades hold towards them.” He added that “it may be a biased assessment depending on who you ask because there is definitely a stigma that upperclassmen hold towards underclassmen, since we tend to view them as naive, and vice versa, as upperclassmen can intimidate the younger kids.”

Junior Mary Anglin Toole thinks students internalize the subtle and overt messages they are getting about their grade. “Each grade seems to embrace their designated ‘personality’, and that definitely implants a picture in people’s minds as to what that grade is like,” she says.

Both Ted and senior Grainger Reeves were worried their opinions might come across as biased, when asked to describe the personality of their senior class.

Grainger thinks that “we [the seniors] are a more academically and athletically inclined grade compared to most.” Ted agreed. “The seniors definitely are respected amongst the faculty and students of other grades,” he says. He feels that the seniors are “more comparable to the more recently graduated classes of 2015 and 2016 than the current sophomores and juniors.”

But it’s not only seniors who feel that way about their grade. Overall, the senior class of 2017 seems to be a well-regarded group.

Sophomores Sidney Kollme and Vaden Scott think the seniors are “super nice, outgoing, and funny.” Sidney added that “as you get older, you get more confident, and the seniors add a good energy to the Upper School.”

They also come across as an “academically motivated” group, according to Junior Phillip Thornton.

It also helps that the seniors have a solid role model in their SGA president. “Sam Rollins’s Monday morning assemblies set a good, light-hearted tone for the morning and imparts a sense of humor onto the overall view of the seniors,” Mary Anglin says.

Many students spoke about the athletic prowess of the junior class.

Ted says that the juniors “have proved to be a drastically more athletic grade than what they were in middle school.”

Phillip agrees that his grade is more “athletically oriented.”

And you guessed it, Mary Anglin also agreed that the juniors are known for the athletics because of “a reputation that started back in middle school.”

But that’s not the only thing they’re known for. According to Grainger, the juniors are “the most attractive grade [girls-wise].” Of course, this might have something to due with the fact that his girlfriend, Sabrina DeWeerdt, is a junior.

The sophomores are one year beyond the awkwardness of freshman year, and they have been able to expand their horizons.

Phillip thinks that while the sophomores are starting to come into their own as a grade, “they are definitely still trying to find their niche in the Upper School.”

Sidney and Vaden agree that their grade tends to fly under the radar. “We are definitely more quiet at school-wide events compared to the others,” Vaden says. Sidney jumped in to add that “the sophomores mesh really well as a grade, so when together, it is a really fun and exciting time.”

The new freshman class of 2020 comes in with the advantage of being able to cultivate their own personality as the “new kids on the block” of the Upper School. Like the juniors, the freshmen seem to have an overarching personality that has been “assigned” to their grade.

Grainger says that he knows a lot of the freshmen because so many of them have senior siblings, and they are definitely a bold group when compared to freshman classes of the past. “Usually, freshman know that they are ‘the bottom of the totem pole’ in regards to the ‘social ladder’ of high school,” he says, “but they seem to not care what other grades may think and kind of throw seniority out the window.” Likewise, Mary Anglin calls them an “outspoken, free-spirited fearless group.”

Their fearlessness even extends to their hairstyles. “It’s really cool how I see some of the freshmen girls with more ‘out there’ haircuts,” Ted says, “which kind of goes against the ‘norm’ of Lovett standards.” He likes the unique mix of kids in the grade.

Administrators had their own thoughts about the personalities of each grade, and how they’re formed.

Mr. Alig isn’t eager to put a label on any grade, especially early on, because he knows how much can change over the years. From his perspective, personalities ultimately are determined by leaders in the grade and how they conduct themselves, which “controls how other grades respect them,” he says.

Ms. Spencer looks to the interactions between the students in the same grade. “Some grades really care about each other, some are competitive with each other, and some may have had a significant event impact them at some point in their career,” she says.

Both Ms. Spencer and Ms. Moss think these personalities can be cultivated before the grade even arrives in the Upper School.

As for this year’s current seniors, Mr. Alig says that when they were rising freshmen coming from the Middle School, he heard over and over again “how nice they are.” Now, four years later, Mr. Alig confidently says that “they have lived up to that.”

Ms. Spencer thinks the seniors have shown a lot of maturity since their time as freshmen and that they “care about the legacy that they leave behind.”

They also celebrate the many passions among the members of the class, according to Ms. Moss.

The juniors are full of energy, says Ms. Spencer, adding that they will need to figure out how to funnel all of that energy into finding their identity as a grade, which is something she believes they are very capable of. It helps that they are a “close-knit group,” says Ms. Moss.

And the underclassmen? Mr. Alig has found that sophomores often “gain a new sense of confidence come second semester.”

Ms. Spencer compares the sophomore class to “puppies” due to their high energy levels and their excitement towards everything new in the Upper School. And they are also “a very bright group of kids,” she says.

This year’s freshman class has done a great job joining things and getting involved, according to Mr. Alig. They “seem happy, and love the freedom,” he says. He believes their success over the months to come will depend “on what obstacles they have to overcome as a grade because there are always some good times and some bad times.”

And all of this matters, because as Ms. Spencer pointed out, the freshmen class is a staggering 179 students. The freshmen and sophomores combined make up almost two-thirds of the Upper School. This puts the ball in the seniors’ court to set the example for all those underclassmen about how to act and come together, so that one day, when they are seniors, students and administrators and teachers alike will have good things to say about them, as individuals and as a whole.

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