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Lunchroom table helps new students adjust to PHS

The+new-to-PISD+table%2C+located+toward+the+front+of+the+lunchroom%2C+seats+four+students.+On+the+table+is+a+set+of+cards+with+questions+that+help+new+students+get+to+know+each+other.+I+remember+what+it+was+like+to+be+a+new+student+with+no+friends+to+sit+with+at+lunch%2C+junior+Sarah+Goddard+said.+For+the+first+quarter+of+my+freshman+year%2C+I+sat+alone.+It%E2%80%99s+pretty+easy+to+find+the+kids+who+have+nobody+to+sit+with+%E2%80%94+the+ones+on+their+phones%2C+aren%E2%80%99t+talking+to+others+%E2%80%94+and+so+I+just+sat+with+them.+Going+to+a+new+school+is+hard+for+anybody.
Lauren Clayton
The ‘new-to-PISD’ table, located toward the front of the lunchroom, seats four students. On the table is a set of cards with questions that help new students get to know each other. “I remember what it was like to be a new student with no friends to sit with at lunch,” junior Sarah Goddard said. “For the first quarter of my freshman year, I sat alone. It’s pretty easy to find the kids who have nobody to sit with — the ones on their phones, aren’t talking to others — and so I just sat with them. Going to a new school is hard for anybody.”

As a brand new year starts at Prosper High School, hundreds of new students swarm the hallways in search of their classes. Out of the 3,434 students that attend PHS, a whopping 350 of them are brand-new to the district. Upon learning this, counselor Kristin Figueroa, developed a plan to help these students feel welcome in an unknown environment — new-student tables.

“Last year, a lot of new students were coming in, as we’re a growing district. I had a heart for them because I felt like they had nowhere to go,” Figueroa said. “It’s scary to be at a new school that’s so big, but one of the scariest places is lunch.”

PHS students in Student Leadership and Hope Squad volunteered to sit at these tables to give new students a peer to sit with for their first few days. This not only provided new students with familiar faces on campus, but also with a positive first experience at the school.

It’s scary to be at a new school that’s so big, but one of the scariest places is lunch.

— counselor Kristin Figueroa

“I remember what it was like to be a new student with no friends to sit with at lunch,” junior Sarah Goddard said. “For the first quarter of my freshman year, I sat alone. It’s pretty easy to find the kids who have nobody to sit with — the ones on their phones, aren’t talking to others — and so I just sat with them. Going to a new school is hard for anybody. Going to a new school when you’re not from Prosper and having no friends is a whole other level of difficulty.”

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The ‘new-to-PISD’ table is only the first step in helping new students integrate and embrace everything PHS has to offer. Every student at Prosper High School was once a new student, and senior Charlotte Walley said hey experience inspired her to help upcoming students.

Going to a new school when you’re not from Prosper and having no friends is a whole other level of difficulty.

— junior Sarah Goddard

“My advice to brand-new students is to try and adventure out,” Walley, a four-year-PHS student, said. “This makes it easier to meet new people and gain friendships at school.”

Students who overcame being the new person at school said getting to know others by joining clubs and other programs agreed that recognizing even a few familiar faces made this Texas 6A-size school feel smaller.

“I think that everybody, no matter where they’re at, should make an effort to meet new people,” Goddard said. “By forming new connections, we create a stronger sense of community and belonging. I’m so thankful for the connections that I was able to make with the students I met at the ‘new-to-PISD table.’”

This story was originally published on Eagle Nation Online on August 17, 2023.