Union Street Journal

What it’s like to transfer to Creek

Deielle+Puzio+is+a+sophomore+who+transferred+from+Georgia.
Deielle Puzio is a sophomore who transferred from Georgia.

Deielle Puzio is a sophomore who transferred from Georgia.

Photo by Ana George

Photo by Ana George

Deielle Puzio is a sophomore who transferred from Georgia.

Ana George, Photo Editor

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High school is hard enough as it is without moving to a different one after freshman year. And transferring into Cherry Creek High School is a unique challenge.

Saeda Marie Bazarian-Chestine, a senior from Springhill, Florida, is shocked at the student population of this school.

“My old school was about the size of the entire freshman class here.”

The physical size is what surprised Deielle Puzio, a sophomore from Georgia. She came from a school that has a student population that is nearly the same as Creek but the campus was significantly smaller.

“My first few days [I got lost],” Puzio said.

Most of the students interviewed for this story said that their first impression of Creek was, “big.” Across America, the average public high school size is rarely over 1,200 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Cherry Creek High School’s total enrollment is about 3,600, that is three times the national average. Add to that four buildings on 80 acres, the enormities add up very quickly.

Infographic by Ben Sampson

English teacher and mentor Mhari Doyle is sympathetic because this campus is large and can be difficult to navigate.

“This is a giant campus and its really hard to navigate if you don’t know where you’re going,” Doyle said.

The school has set-up a two week intensive for the purpose of teaching transfer students everything they need to know. After the two weeks are finished, each student is assigned a mentor teacher. There are five teachers involved in the program including Doyle,  Amber Arenas in the World Language Department, Taylor Dufford in the Science Department, William Richardson in the Math Department, and Noah Zepelin in the Social Studies Department.

Even with all of this help, transferring to Creek is extremely difficult. Cherry Creek is not just different is size but also in its high academic standards.

“It’s just a very different environment academically,” Doyle said.

Students who have attended Creek since their freshman year, especially those who attended Campus or West, already know the expectations.

“Kids who have gone all the way through the system have kinda been used to like how we [teachers] want stuff shown or even just the level that the material is taught at,” Dufford said.

Junior Erik Coleman-Garrett from Overland High school also had a difficult time academically despite coming from a school within the same school district.

“I struggled a lot with keeping up with the school work and learning past material that I haven’t learned previously,” Coleman-Garrett said.

Cherry Creek is well known for its academic rigor and high expectations, but another issue is that course sequences and curricula do not match up with what the students were taking at their old school.

“I’m taking a math course that I have already taken,” Puzio said.

The lack of cohesiveness in course progression is not only an academic problem but a social one as well. It can be difficult to make friends when you have to take classes that have students in grade-levels besides your own.

“Sometimes when you come in, you can’t be in the same class with your peers, which can be tough to make friends,” Doyle said. “That social piece is also something I think is really difficult for kids because it’s tough to find people who are in your own group.”

Coleman-Garrett struggles with this because a majority of the classes he takes are filled with seniors, and as a result, most of his friends are seniors.

“Having classes with a lot of people not in my grade has been hard,” Garrett said.

The social aspect was also addressed by Dufford who explained that many of these students have known each other for a long time.

“A lot of kids have all gone through Cottonwood and Campus together, so they have been together their whole lives, so finding your place is hard.”

Junior Marco Abril has had a difficult time adjusting to teaching styles after moving from Prairie View High School in Henderson, Colorado.

The school has set up an area in the counseling office called the Peer Pad where Peer Ambassadors hang out and offer help to any of the new students, but it doesn’t help all transfer students.

“I know they have the Peer Ambassadors thing, but I feel like it’s a lot harder to go to that stuff because you don’t know those people,” Abril said. “So it’s just as hard as making friends in your everyday class,” Abril said.

Dufford understands that even with this in place, making new friends can be difficult.

“Even with everything we have in place, it takes a little bit of courage and a little bit of determination to go and meet new people here,” Dufford said.

There are a lot of people in this school that have compassion and truly care about helping not only transfer students but all students succeed.

“It is my sincere observation that there is a large percentage of powerfully capable and compassionate persons within the student population, the faculty, and the administration,” Richardson said.

Both the teacher and the students recommended that the best help to transitioning to Creek is to get involved and communicate.

“My advice for any new student,” Doyle said. “Regardless of their age and where they are coming from, is ask for help and clarification.”

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What it’s like to transfer to Creek