Nursery to 12: For Lifers

The Poly ninth grade class brings in an influx of new students from various backgrounds each year. The spotlight is often on these new students, and those who have been at Poly since nursery, “Poly lifers,” often get lost in the new kid shuffle. I interviewed some of these students, as well as students new to Poly, to explore the difference in how lifers and newbies see Poly. 

For some, from the perspective of a new Poly student, it may seem like those that have been here from the beginning would feel like they have a huge advantage over the rookies. Freshman Jane Littleton, who is a Poly lifer, disagrees. “I don’t think Poly lifers have an unfair advantage to newcomers,” Littleton said. “Lower Poly was just very crafty and creative. I never noticed any academic, athletic, or artistic difference from lifer kids and newcomers.” Littleton enjoyed the freedom to explore her interests at the Lower School. “There were so many options for sports, music, and art, so I really felt like I could try anything I wanted to,” said Littleton. Growing up as a lifer, Littleton said, has prepared her for the strenuous life of a Poly high school student that many rookies may struggle with. 

Lifer and freshman Lowie Giles offered a similar perspective. When asked if she thinks lifers have any advantage over newcomers, she said, “No, not at all. Kids who went to the Lower School also had to adjust to the new Upper School environment…I think that this year [9th grade], people seem to be more mature and relaxed, and all of the new students have given people access to make new friends and explore who they get along with.” Giles enjoys the opportunity to get to know new people. She said, “Being a lifer is not something that makes me feel closer or different relationship-wise with other students.”

Although Poly lifers and rookies may not differ academically, athletically, or artistically, freshman Izzy Gerling noted that lifers share a different bond as compared to new students. “I think people who have been at Poly for all their time in school do share a different bond because these are the people we have been surrounded by for almost 13 years…It is not only us but our parents who have had this bond with each other. I know Poly has created friendships I will have for life,” Gerling said. 

Freshman Ruby Kessler, another Poly lifer, agrees. “Yes, I do think that kids who went to the Lower School together do have a different bond in a way,” said Kessler.  

Tallulah Glancy, a new student to the ninth grade class, recognizes these bonds among lifers and believes they have an advantage. “They have much more advantages,” said Glancy. “They’re used to the pace of the curriculum, which I find fast, so the transition is harder for others who are used to something more slow.” Exposed to the expectations as Poly students at a younger age, Glancy sees the ability to grow and adapt as an advantage that lifers have over new students. 

The experience of a Poly student is circumstantial to how they choose to approach the rigorous learning environment and competitive social atmosphere. Poly lifers may share a special sort of bond, but only what a Poly student takes out of their experience at Poly determines their success. 

Senior Emmett Doty makes the point that in some ways, the newcomers bring with them a new perspective that is instead enjoyed by all. Doty believes that all Poly students enjoy the benefits of the viewpoint of the newcomer, making them all equally better for the shared experience. “Although I have been learning solely at this school all my life, I don’t think that has hindered the variety of perspectives I have encountered. This is due to the overwhelming variety of former schools and life experiences brought by each new student,” said Doty. 

Doty has been attending Poly Prep for about 15 years. As he grew, Poly changed and developed right alongside him. “The school’s culture has changed for the better, in my opinion,” Doty said.

So the big question “Are you new to Poly?” may really not be as big as you may think. Rather, the influx of new students, viewpoints and shared experiences make Poly itself a new place each and every year.