Former charter school students share their experience

Making new friends is one of the many new challenges for students who previously attended a charter school.

After transitioning from Souderton Charter School Collaborative to Souderton Area High School, students reflect on their experience with meeting new people at the beginning of the school year.
A new school often brings incoming students. A majority come from the two middle schools, some come after moving, and very few come from charter school. Students coming from Souderton Charter School Collaborative went from grade levels having a maximum of 40 peers to grade levels totaling over 500 students.
“At the charter school, by the time I was in eighth grade there were 200 kids,” senior Christian van der Kleut said. “Then coming to the high school there were 250 kids in my grade.”
According to van der Kleut, socializing and creating new friendships was slightly more difficult, especially after going through every grade with the same limited number of classmates.
“I wasn’t really used to talking to someone else, other than people in my class,” van der Kleut said. “In the end, I had to learn to be social and friendly to other people.”
Some, such as freshman Amelia Haworth, thought coming to the high school was a new and refreshing start.
“I was excited to meet new people because at [the] charter school you’re with the same 20 people,” Haworth said. “Meeting new people is fun.” The large change in numbers wasn’t the only noticeable difference. According to van der Kleut, learning was “more personalized” at the Charter School, but achievement was harder.
“I had a 70% in all my classes, but then I came to the high school and I had a 90% in all my classes,” van der Kleut said, “It’s a big jump in difficulty.”
Another former charter school student, sophomore Sydney Wright, thought the charter school pushed students to succeed. Wright said she felt “overwhelmed” and “pressured” while attending the school.
According to van der Kleut, he has heard multiple opinions and stereotypes about the charter school, such as it’s a waste of money and unneeded. The former students all agreed that they didn’t need to go to the charter school, but the students who needed it really benefited from it.
“We didn’t need a charter school. I would have done perfectly fine if I went to an elementary school or middle school,” van der Kleut said. “It is helpful for the students that need it and there are definitely students who need it.”
Haworth said the school prepared her for the high school academically, but she missed out on some benefits the public schools in the district received.
“We didn’t have certain things like a cafeteria or normal things other middle schools had, or a gym,” Haworth said.“We also didn’t have a playground. We played in the parking lot.”
The charter school includes kindergarten through eighth grade. Many of the graduating eighth graders, however, end up going to private schools. Only 9 out of 21 of the kids from van der Kleut’s class currently attend the high school. For example, van der Kleut said his one friend ended up attending a private school.