By Ana García
The 2022-2023 school year ended with the announcement of school closures in Jefferson Parish. A new Infrastructure and Efficiency plan aimed at consolidating several schools in the parish was the reason for the changes in school attendance zones affecting approximately 6,100 students. This article seeks to guide students affected by this drastic change.
Thousands of students in Jefferson Parish have been adversely affected by the school consolidations. With such a radical change, some children and youth may be experiencing various emotions, including anxiety, stress, anger, and perhaps fear. Starting at a new school entails nervousness about building new social connections, managing change-related anxiety, understanding the new academic environment, and the stress of making the most of the available resources to ensure a smooth transition.
Among the normal feelings students may experience, the displacement of those separated from their previous schools can be extra challenging. They had to leave friendships behind abruptly and already established connections with teachers and staff. For this reason, students must approach the academic year with a positive mindset. Cristina Garcia, a high school teacher from an affected school, says change is never easy. “It is important to think about the positive aspects that can arise from this experience,” she said, adding that entering a new school with a positive mindset is a great opportunity for the academic year to be successful. “It’s a chance to start anew and do better than the previous year.”
To help students cope with the challenges of moving to a new school, establish new social connections, manage change-related anxieties, and understand the new academic environment, Garcia shares some advice:
- Speak with your guidance counselor on the first day of classes. Building clear communication with them will help reduce any misunderstandings in the future.
- Join clubs or sports: If you don’t like a club or sport, talk to your principal about creating one.
- Attend any back-to-school events. It will facilitate meeting teachers and allow you to explore the campus and find your classrooms.
- Find a hobby you enjoy to reduce stress and anxiety: Journaling, exercising, meditating, spending time with friends, or listening to music. Make sure to reserve time for yourself. This change can be stimulating and overwhelming, so finding something that helps you relax will benefit you in the long run.
- Establish a routine. It will help provide a sense of control and organization and reduce anxiety.
Unfortunately, thousands of students will be in the same situation. However, young people can seek peer support and embrace new beginnings. The final advice from Ms. Garcia: “Always keep an open mind. This experience may be difficult for some, but it can be beneficial and open doors to various opportunities.”