In the Burroughs statement of philosophy, it is written, “through a personal, active approach to learning, each student pursues his or her potential in all school endeavors— academics, art, athletics and activities.” Every person who attends the school is encouraged to participate in all four categories, in order to become a well-rounded person. For new ninth-grade students, these pillars are especially emphasized in order to help the student adjust to the new school environment. There are fifteen ninth graders who entered the school this year, coming from a variety of different backgrounds. Many of them describe their experiences at Burroughs as “different” when compared to their old schools, which highlights a fifth aspect that new students have to work on: adaptation. Whether to the workload or lunches, every one of these students has had to learn how to become accustomed to this new school.
Bella Peng came from Ladue Middle School. For Bella, the biggest difference is in the atmosphere of the school as a whole, and she says, “The community at Burroughs [is] a lot more welcoming. The environment doesn’t feel tense, and it doesn’t feel like I’m being pushed into one thing after another.” She also shared how volleyball helped her feel more included: “It gave me the chance to meet some people and make new friends.” Coming into a school where most people have already known each other for two or more years is daunting, but the athletics help new students get to know others before school even starts. In addition to volleyball games, Bella likes playing video games, and as she also plays piano and violin, she especially enjoys the soundtracks of the games: “It’s helped me realize that so much work is put into these pieces in order to portray the theme and emotion.”
Sammie Lee plays the double bass, which allows her to share her interests with students she wouldn’t have otherwise met. Additionally, she reflects that by playing a fall sport, she has become close to the members of her team and it allows her to connect to many different types of people. She also notes a large change in the focus of Burroughs. She describes this, saying, “The focus on STEM here is very significant, but at [Parkway] Central, I felt there was more of an emphasis on the arts.” This goes hand-in-hand with her views on academics where she reflects that the work is harder and the school is overall more demanding. She does, however, describe this as a positive change.
Will Friebel has had a similar experience to other new students. He describes the people here at Burroughs as “authentic” and “themselves.” However, he also mentioned that the excellent education he’s receiving comes at the cost of a heavier workload. Cross country helped him get his bearings, meet friends, and gave him a “familiar face” on the first day of school. He enjoys how the sports programs are “tailored for individual needs” and how this helps him do his best.
As with the other students, John Cordia, from Sacred Heart Valley Park, mentions how the summer sports allow you [to] make friends with your new teammates before your first day. On top of the atmosphere of the teams, he also likes the fact that everyone can play whatever sport they sign up for, saying, “If you’re not good at a sport, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to play that sport.” He also says that the school is more interactive, which helps him stay focused and engaged when he otherwise might not. It is a large change from his previous school where teachers“ focused more on grades and just jamming the info into your brain, but at Burroughs they want you to learn the material and be able to talk about it.”
Elliot Walker commented, “the focus on discussion is something I find different and enjoy.” This in and of itself is something many other schools don’t do. He especially notes this in terms of his favorite subject, history, where he delights in learning about the Greeks and the advancement of human society. Like the other students, Elliott also found that playing soccer helped him get to know people on the team, and he describes the community as, “very close-knit and supportive.” Elliot moved from New York, and the many traditions and customs of this school, along with the fact that you have the same classes every period most days of the week, were the largest change in moving schools.
Though not all students participate in each and every aspect of the four main pillars of Burroughs, new students must acclimate to this environment. Many of the students mentioned that free periods were a huge change, along with the homework. Athletics were a massive help when it came to meeting everyone and becoming comfortable, as nearly every student mentioned. Burroughs is a stressful school, especially when you are part of a group that comes in every year at a social disadvantage. For some, it required them to change their focus. For others, it became necessary for them to work more efficiently or alter how they spent their time. Burroughs prides itself on its academics, arts, athletics, and activities but to become as well-rounded as possible, we also must adapt. This year’s new students have had to focus on the process of adapting, as much as any other pursuit.