Opinion: Separate campuses split up student communities

Separate Upper and Freshman Campuses keep freshmen isolated from the students that could guide them


KAdams Photo

Though it makes logistical sense to separate freshmen from upperclassmen in different buildings, the social impact on freshmen has made the transition to high school more difficult.

Grace Hunt, Contributing Writer

A freshman student is failing their classes, uninvolved in school activities, and disrespecting teachers. Without mentors and a constant supporting environment, students can’t discover who they are without going down the wrong path. The MCHS split between an Upper Campus and Freshman Campus doesn’t only separate the campus but also the students in them. Students — especially freshmen — are being negatively impacted socially. 

MCHS used to consist of East and West Campuses, and now they have been combined to form the Upper Campus and Freshman Campus. This allows for 10th-12th graders to be located on one campus and ninth graders to have their own campus. The referendum plan was approved back in 2018, supported by a 44 million dollar fund to allow for the extension on the Upper Campus and renovation on the Freshman Campus. According to The Northwest Herald, this is to accommodate for the growing number of students in McHenry and the large course curriculum offered at MCHS. 

Without role models, older friends and upper classmen guidance, freshman students don’t have an example of how to act according to the environment and the appropriate behaviors. Students are showing more immature behaviors, and lacking respect towards fellow classmates, school buildings, and teachers. Notoriously freshman students have always been the ones to get in trouble and act “squirrely.”

This year is no different, but it’s the things students are doing that are getting Dean of Students Peter Byrne and Assistant Principal Kyle Hobson’s attention. “100 percent kids are more immature this year, and we’re seeing behaviors that we haven’t seen in a long time and more of them … and they’re coming to a new building, a new set of freshmen, right off a pandemic. It’s been challenging,” said Byrne. 

The freshman students are usually the class with the most behavior issues because they are more immature compared to upperclassmen. This year has presented more challenges with behavior due to there being no example for freshmen to follow, and coming off a pandemic these issues have been elevated. “East Campus was always such a small, tighter community. Just the respect for the school and the building itself, our upperclassmen honored that. When you have a whole new class coming into a building with no one to role model that, that’s where we get into the issues with things that are happening,” said Hobson. 

Freshmen are separated at their own campus and can’t be fully involved in their MCHS community. The separation is present in clubs, sports and various other activities and opportunities freshman students have been left out on all together. This split directly impacts freshmen from getting fully involved in their high school experience their first year. A recent example is the Upper Campus honored veterans with various speakers and displays, while the Freshman Campus continued on Veterans Day as normal. 

“The thing with [freshmen/ right now is you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Byrne. “You don’t know what they have over there. Like, the clubs just for example, all the after school activities and things if you wanted to be in something over there, what do you got to do? You have to take a bus and go over there and what a hassle right now.” 

“I feel connected at events like football games, but there’s a divide,” said freshman Jia Shah. “It never really connects in day-to-day school life. They get things over there, and we get different things over here. We just hear stories about things we’re missing out on.” 

Freshman year is the beginning for students of their high school career, and it can be detrimental if students aren’t able to get a solid start. “Freshman year is the most important year of high school and a crucial chance for a fresh start. Strong students can quickly fall off course if they start cutting classes and blowing off homework,” according to “Freshman Year: The Make-it or Break-it Year” study by The Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. “Based on earlier research about On-Track Indicators, we know this is the year that will set the stage for whether high school students will graduate and whether they will be ready for college” 

The split of MCHS was a necessary implementation but that doesn’t change the fact that it is impacting students negatively. When MCHS consisted of an East and West campus different classes were offered at different campuses. The busing problem to get students to different courses was unacceptable and left students without instruction and missing major class time. The split allows for better opportunities for students in the educational factor, curriculum can be better offered to every student. There is still an important social factor that impacts students in their education throughout high school. Freshman separation from upperclassmen is uncommon and a change that doesn’t prioritize students’ social discovery and growth. 

Freshman students’ social and emotional growth has been limited and impacted by the MCHS split. Students all around communities have been changed, and freshmen have been left with no community at all. They have been separated. This negativity impacts vulnerable freshmen who aren’t able to grow socially or mature.