Trading places: AHS, Martin students shadow each other for a day

When I started high school as a bright eyed and bushy tailed freshman, I didn’t understand a lot of things. I didn’t understand how the upperclassmen didn’t get lost on their way to classes, I didn’t understand how important freshman classes were for my GPA, and I definitely didn’t understand the rivalry between Arlington and Martin. Flash forward to this year. I’m a senior, I no longer get lost in the hallways, my GPA is mediocre, and somewhere along the way I totally got sucked into the Martin hating. I was heartbroken when the football team lost to Martin this year, but it really got me thinking. If my parents had bought a house only two miles west I would be a Warrior. I also realized that I can’t really explain why I hate them, just that I do.

Around the same time I was reveling in this epiphany, Megan Mitchell, a Martin newspaper staffer, reached out to me with the idea that we switch schools for a day. She followed me around Arlington, and a week later I went to all of her classes at Martin, determined to find out exactly what about Martin it is that is so bad. This is what I found.

Emma’s Impression of Martin:

I only attended Martin for a day, so I can’t claim to have a genuine understanding of the true, nitty gritty workings of the school. However, there was one thought that plagued my mind throughout my entire eight hours spent as a red and black Warrior: this school feels like “High School Musical”. Walking through the hallways during passing periods, I almost expected the insanely huge student body that crowded around me to break out into spontaneous song. I don’t know what it was that brought me to this conclusion, (I didn’t actually witness any choreographed dancing on the way to AP Lit) it just seemed very preppy in the way schools in all movies are.

It was an enlightening experience where I realized that there aren’t really THAT many differences between our schools.

— Emma Ruby

I immediately knew that Martin was going to be different from AHS when Megan told me she shows up to school at 7:00. While I usually roll up to school at 7:28 clad in joggers and whatever shirt I slept in before sprinting to my first period class, the student body of Martin seems to bypass this early morning stress by actually showing up to school on time. I obviously can’t speak for every student, but driving up there were pods of students chatting in the parking lot, and even more in the hallways and various classrooms. The theater kids sat in the theater room, utterly unrushed in their lounging as school still had 15 minutes until commencement.

Maybe showing up not just on time, but early, to school shouldn’t astound me, but that was the biggest culture shock of the day. I also was grateful for my last minute decision to straighten my hair, as everyone at Martin seems to take more pride in their appearance than the majority of AHS’s student body (circle back to my comment about joggers and pajama shirts).

However, when it came to classes Martin and AHS seemed to be one in the same. Both schools quickly got down to business when it came to class time, and both sets of teachers that I sat through obviously cared about their students and the subjects they taught. It seemed to me that while the cultures of the schools differed in the hallways, a classroom is a classroom.

For lunch, Megan took me to a bagel shop called Iris I had never been to before, and it was love at first bite, carbs are sure to win me over any day. Martin also has a much longer lunch than AHS because they don’t have a Plus Period. The extended lunch definitely made me miss the longer lunch periods AHS used to have that only seniors will remember. Another difference that made me reminisce of the pre-Plus Period days at AHS was that students at Martin are allowed in the hallways at lunch. As Megan and I walked through the halls on our way back from Iris, I ran into my brother, a Martin student, in the hallway. We had a lovely chat where I attempted to thoroughly embarrass him as any good older sister would, and he introduced me to a group of his friends sitting nearby. The long, relaxed lunchtime was a much needed break from class, and something that I hadn’t realized I miss a lot.

All in all, I’m glad I went to Martin for a day. It was an enlightening experience where I realized that there aren’t really THAT many differences between our schools. At the end of the day, we are all just a bunch of students trying to learn. With that being said, Kick ‘em Colts!


Megan’s Impression of AHS:

While I understand that only one day in the life of an AHS student could never fully portray the culture of the school, Arlington High, as a whole, felt more relaxed. Students who are in the top of their class carried blankets around, I didn’t see a single girl wearing a skirt the entire day, and students were able to talk to their teachers as equals during class discussions. I felt as if I had stepped into a miniature college campus.

It felt like a miniature college campus with less pressure and more focus on actually learning what was being taught, not just making a good grade.

— Megan Mitchell

(Although this article isn’t about the physical differences between the two schools, there are a few things that are so different it feels necessary to point out: they’re allowed to paint their parking spots any color they want, almost every single classroom has at least one window, and they have to walk from building to building through the courtyard to get to different classes.)

Emma is enrolled in the IB program, which is essentially the liberal arts equivalent of STEM Academy. There are around 30 seniors in IB, which means class sizes max out around 15 people. Everyone is extremely comfortable with each other because it’s at least the second year they’ve had all eight of their classes together.

IB English was a nightmare come true for anyone afraid of public speaking. Instead of taking a long, written test at the end of the school year to get college credit for the course like an AP class, IB students have multiple different tasks they must complete in order to get their diploma. Along with writing multiple analysis essays, students must have a one-on-one interview with their teacher in front of the whole class where they answer questions and analyze poems that they read throughout the year on the spot while their peers rank them on a scale of 1-30 on how well they’ve done.

Another big difference is that at Arlington they have something called “Plus Period.” Plus Period is a 30-minute study hall period that no one seems to like (mostly because it took time off of everyone’s lunch). Students rotate through each of their classes throughout the week for the study hall period, starting with their first period on Monday, second period on Tuesday, so on and so forth. And during lunch, no students are allowed to eat in the hallways or anywhere that isn’t the cafeteria.

Our last period was IB history, where I listened to a more in-depth lesson on World War I in an hour and a half than I had ever received in the past 12 years of my public education all put together. The teacher and students were comfortable with each other, and the discussion felt more like a conversation with a friend instead of a middle-aged history teacher.

Arlington, as a whole, felt more relaxed. It was a place where I could learn and feel completely unjudged from my peers. It felt like a miniature college campus with less pressure and more focus on actually learning what was being taught, not just making a good grade.