Stages of Maturation during High School

Starting at the bottom is never simple. Every year a new crop of freshmen spill into the high school hallways intimidated by the building, the teachers, and upper classmen. They have gone from feeling on top of the world to the bottom of the heap in one step. Doubt and uncertainty are the marks of the freshmen. They often have gone from being the largest members of their school to being among the smallest. Within their little peer group, their confidence levels are good. When they exit that group for the cold sterile halls of their new school, life gets much more difficult.

The workload can be heavier and more complex inside the classrooms. The teachers seem much more distant and unfamiliar. Even the rules seem to have changed. Unless you have an older sibling who is ready to take you under their wing, you may feel like you have just become the freshest piece of meat in a cell block.

Near the end of the freshmen year, most students begin to realize that next year, a new group of beginners will inhabit the halls. These “old freshmen” begin to feel a little rush of confidence as it dawns on them that others will soon see them as the older more experienced bodies in the halls. The seniors have checked out emotionally from the school and the former freshmen now enjoy a glimpse into sophomore status.

With bodies that are maturing and rounding slowing into adult form, sophomores enter the new year ready to get a driver’s license. They can smell the potential of freedom given by having a set of wheels under you. With a year of experience behind them, they no longer cower in the hallways but are not starting to work on their swagger. Changing voices and more aggressive behavior emerge as more of the year passes. By the end of the term, these young people grasp that half of their high school years have passed. They are beginning to look toward college and careers.

By year three of high school, there remains only one class in front of them in line. Grades begin to become important if college is looming less than 2 years distant. Learning a skill grows in importance for those who will enter the workforce at graduation. With freshmen lurking 2 grades below, the junior class can now begin to look down their noses at lower classmen. Smirks and derogatory remarks become commonplace when dealing with lower classmen. By the conclusion of this year, senior will be the mantra that these young people sport with pride.

More couple bonding begins during this junior year. Younger girls become smitten by older mature upper classmen. If caution isn’t exercised, teen pregnancies can really blossom from this class.

As the senior year opens up, a wave of nostalgia sweeps over most students. This is the last year. After the first month, it abates a little until spring when it hits again with a vengeance. Full of pride and arrogance, seniors patrol the halls tempting lower classmen to cross them. Pranks can increase and often a few groupies will follow them around for a sniff of status.

By the end of this year, a more serious undertone grips the senior. Life is waiting only a few days and weeks away. Evaluations of previous preparations are made. Colleges are applied to for admission. In the final few months, a demeanor that seems more adult and ready to take their place at the bottom of a new heap sets in.