Private to Public: My Transition to Chamblee

Ashika Srivastava, Editor

I was about to enter eighth grade when I received my acceptance letter for the magnet program at Chamblee. After about five years of trying my luck in the magnet “lottery,” my parents had given up hope and were already making plans to move to some far away town with higher ranked school districts. Fortunately, my luck was good the sixth time around, and I was all set to enter the magnet program at Chamblee Middle. 

At least, that’s what my parents thought. In reality, I was a mess.

Before coming to Chamblee, I attended a relatively small private school in Fulton County for two years. And it was glaringly different from Chamblee in almost every way possible. For one, I knew every single student in my grade by name and a good amount of students in other grade levels, too.

We were like a family in some ways, really close and always there for each other, so it was nice. Families, however, do fight and ours was no exception. The thing about knowing everyone in your grade is that it is really easy to start unnecessary drama. One minute you’re walking down the halls and stop to wave at a friend, and the next minute that very same friend has misinterpreted your wave and is now telling everyone she knows that you have a crush on her twin sister.

Also, it got a little tiring being with the same groups of people all day. They were all amazing  and I loved spending time with them, but sometimes I wished I could take a break and just talk to new people with new experiences for a day. So I now appreciate being able to walk down the Chamblee halls and spot a new face every now and then.

Hopefully I’ve conveyed the closeness between me and the students at my old school just enough to justify the mess of a person I became when I realized that I had to leave my old school and family for a new one.

I was the new kid at Chamblee and it was difficult trying to adjust to a new school, new teachers, new rules, and new students. My transition, however, was made 10 times harder by the fact that I had come straight from private school. I was used to knowing everyone in my grade and getting help with small tasks, then suddenly I knew no one and felt like I knew nothing.

All of the students had established their friend groups with the friends they’d had since the fourth grade and I didn’t know where I fit. Do I just walk up to them and introduce myself or do I lay low and hope that no one even noticed my arrival? Little things like the difference in the locks on the lockers, the crowds at lunch, and the fact that my principal didn’t actually know me reminded me that things were different and always would be.

Then again, I was an eager middle schooler back in those days and I may have gotten a little too emotional because these past couple years at Chamblee really have been the greatest. Looking back, I’m really grateful that I got the chance to experience both private and public school life because not everyone has that same privilege and opportunity.

And although the transition from private to public school was slightly chaotic (much like this op-ed), it was something that I’m glad I experienced. I’ve met some incredibly talented students and teachers here and have made lots of memories that I couldn’t have done without the magnet acceptance letter from five years ago.