by Hailey Maxwell
“Oh, I loved teaching your brother! I can’t wait to get to know you, too!”
That, along with “Didn’t you have a sibling here a couple years ago?,” is a routine annoyance for students who have older siblings who graduated from Chamblee Charter High School.
The experiences of their siblings can also be a benefit, however, because the students can get advice and information from them about how to make the best of their experience at Chamblee.
Junior Gib Stanfield, whose brothers Harper and John graduated in 2015 and 2017, respectively, felt like he had a foot in the door already when he started high school.
“I already [knew] which classes are hard,” said Stanfield. “I know which teachers are cool and which to steer clear of.”
Sophomore Chris Rogers, whose brother Preston graduated in 2017, had a similar experience.
“He [Preston] told me which teachers to stay away from,” said Rogers. “He helped me understand how Chamblee operates.”
Junior Henry McKlin, whose brother Sam graduated in 2017, appreciates the help his brother gave him in understanding Chamblee, but is even more grateful to not be the first child that his parents have helped navigate the often-confusing college application process.
“The college application process is going to go a lot smoother for me than it did for my brother because my parents kinda already know [what to do],” said McKlin. “Last year they were just kinda figuring it out as they went along.”
Sometimes a sibling pair can result in a case of mistaken-identity for the younger half.
“Teachers do call me by his [my brother’s] name,” said Rogers.
For McKlin, this problem hasn’t occurred frequently since elementary school.
“In high school the teachers change classes so often that there isn’t much overlap between me and Sam,” said McKlin, “but in elementary school they called me by his name all the time.”
However, in the classes that McKlin and his brother both had, the teachers have to be careful not to slip up.
“I have to pause before I can say a name,” said AP Environmental Science teacher DeAnn Peterson. “I almost did it to Henry the other day; I almost called him Sam. I would be mortified if I did that outloud.”
Socially, an older sibling can be quite the advantage. Being friends or at least acquaintances with upperclassmen can make the transition to high school much smoother.
“I was friends with a lot of upperclassmen because of my brother,” said Rogers.
McKlin also had experiences that freshmen don’t usually get.
“It was nice because I could just tag along with my brother to stuff and get to know people who were older than me,” said McKlin.
It is not only the students that feel like they know a younger sibling before they meet them. Teachers also often have preconceptions about the behavior and work-ethic of students whose siblings they have taught before.
“There’s the whole issue of living up to the expectations of teachers and parents,” said Stanfield. “I come here, teachers know my name, and they kinda have something to expect already.”
Rogers also had things expected of him because of his brother.
“I already had big shoes to fill my ninth grade year,” said Rogers. “I wanted to fill them and do more and be better.”
Stanfield echoed the sentiment of wanting to not only live up to but also exceed expectations.
“When you’re trying to live up to the expectations and when you don’t meet them, it can be hard,” said Stanfield, “but when you surpass them or go in a completely different direction and do something your own, then it feels really good.”
Peterson, who has been teaching at Chamblee for 10 years, has had many sibling-pairs come through her classes, but she forces any expectations she may have out of her mind.
“That’s really intentional on my part,” said Peterson, “I recognize that they are their own unique individual. It’s really important for teachers to recognize that and just let them be their own selves.”
Standing out as an individual can be difficult for someone with an older sibling to follow.
Rogers and his brother, for example, have both played baseball for Chamblee.
“At first the coaches treated me as if I was another version of my brother,” said Rogers, “but then they realized that I’m a different player.”
Stanfield has also found himself separating himself from his brothers.
“You have to forge your own path,” said Stanfield, “but thanks to [your older sibling], you know the steps you need to get there.”
In the end, it is being your own person that matters and not being a newer better version of your sibling.
“I don’t feel the need to prove myself compared to my brothers,” said Stanfield. “I just need to prove myself as myself.”