New students at Bothell


Rhiannon Ralbovsky shows off her Bothell pride. Art by Tara Duong.

If you have ever been the new kid at school you would be familiar with the uneasy feeling of trying to find somewhere to sit at lunch, getting lost trying to locate your English class, and the daunting task of making new friends. Now imagine being a new student in the 2020-2021 school year. The transition to online school for teachers and students has been rough to say the least. Six months into the school year and I am still trying to figure out how to navigate schoology. We are all so preoccupied with our own virtual classroom that many of us have forgotten about new students. 

I talked to two new students at Bothell, Rhiannon Ralbovsky (‘22) and Nathan Thomas (‘22), to hear about how their Bothell experience has been so far.  

Thomas moved from Woodinville to Bothell this year and started at the beginning of second semester in January and Ralbovsky moved from Kamiak High School in Mukilteo and started in September. Thomas tells me that he was supposed to go to Bothell for most of his life until he moved to Woodinville “I’ve always wanted to go to Bothell High School… I’m very happy and enjoying the fact that I go to Bothell High School now.” While Ralbovsky says that she didn’t even know that Bothell existed until this year, she does remember driving past the farm across the street when she was younger because her aunt lived nearby. Her first impression of Bothell was how much the campus resembled a college campus: “there’s benches that you can sit at and tables.” She also comments about how much bigger the gym is than her old school’s. As for the students and teachers, “they’re pretty much the same” Thomas tells me. Although Ralbovksy says that she struggled a lot with being bullied at her old school so she appreciates the different climate at Bothell. In addition, “a lot more people put their cameras on” in comparison to Kamiak, Ralbovsky says.

I asked them both if it was harder to be new in person or online. “It can go both ways. Being new in person is difficult because you have to deal with people but at the same token you can also meet new people. I definitely think online will probably be a little easier because you just have to go on the zoom meeting” says Thomas. Ralbovsky says, “since it’s online, it’s completely different. It’s not difficult per say, it’s just really weird.”

Thomas tells me that he has adjusted easily to his AP English Language class but AP Biology has been a little more of a challenge: “she moves a lot faster than the teacher I had so I’m just trying to get used to her speed.” Ralbovsky also adds that she finds it much more difficult to reach out to a teacher for extra help online rather than in-person because she hasn’t really met them.

“The social aspect of not being in-person with your classmates is also pretty difficult” Thomas brings up. Ralbovsky shares her struggles with meeting new people, “you can’t really introduce yourself, the only way you can do that is in a breakout room and there’s always more than two people.” She compares the online experience to in-person, “introducing yourself to one person takes a lot of guts but walking up to a group”, like a breakout room, “is entirely different.” Thomas tells me that he “[has] a lot of friends already at Bothell” as has lived in the NSD area for a while. He also plays football and plans to play for Bothell this year, “the culture that they have within the team has already made me feel very connected within the school so I’d say they’ve pretty much done everything to make me feel at home.” Go cougs! On the other side, Ralbovsky has not had similar luck. “Meeting new people is really difficult… I don’t know anybody at Bothell” she says. Being a very social person, she has struggled with feeling isolated and finding a place in the Bothell community, “I’m not in any clubs but the thing is I would probably be in a club if we were in person” she says.

“They’ve been very supportive of me throughout the transition… they’ve done the best that they could for what I’ve asked so I’m very appreciative of it” says Thomas regarding Bothell staff. Online school has been a huge challenge in itself for all students, especially new ones, so what else can Bothell do to make them feel more supported? Ralbovsky has an idea where Bothell ASB can organize a group of students who are open to being contacted through social media. If new students have questions about school work, want to meet new people, or just need someone to talk to, these students would be the ones to go to. This group could be like Link 2.0. As for everyone else, I would encourage all students to reach out to any new students in their classes through social media or email and introduce yourself!

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