Right out of a Disney movie? Freshmen share their first impressions of high school


Elliot Smith

AWHS freshman read their textbooks in second period World History and Geography.

As returning Archie Williams students resume their high school traditions of lunch spots, after-school studying, and extracurriculars, a new class of students enters wide-eyed, absorbing the realities of high school. This fall, Archie Williams welcomed the class of 2026, and this class of freshmen immediately made judgments of what the year has in store for them.

High School Musical, Ten Things I Hate About You and Freaky Friday are all classic Disney movies based in high school. As kids become young adults watching  these movies, certain ideas and stereotypes become associated with this foreign place known as “high school.” Prom, letterman jackets, and homecoming royalty are just a few stereotypes the media portrays as vital to this environment. 

As incoming freshmen, aspects of these movies could very much feel real as they don’t have any other perspective. However, while some incoming Archie Williams students believed in them, others didn’t give these ideas a thought. 

 Freshmans Colin Gilmartin and Annalee Savage weren’t sure of what they expected this year.

“I thought high school would be filled with stereotypes like a high school special on Disney Channel. [But] everyone is a mixture of one or the other,” Colin said.

Freshman Julian Hernández and Ariel Maldonado study in their 2nd period English class. (Elliot Smith)

Annalee had a similar opinion, but as soon as she got on campus, her opinions changed.

“I kind of thought there would be [stereotypical high school norms] but once I got to school I realized it wasn’t really a thing. I thought there would definitely be some separation with friend groups but I wasn’t expecting full Disney high school on my first day. It didn’t really change once I got there,” Annalee said.

Aside from first impressions, an important aspect of integrating into a new school is mindset. Freshman Evangeline Arnold focused on entering with a positive perspective.

“I didn’t really [believe in these stereotypes] because I feel like stereotypes aren’t always true, so I try not to think about them. I heard a lot from my brother and his friends, so I was pretty well prepared,” Evangeline said.

As freshmen detangle expectations versus reality of life in high school, they also begin to plan out their year ahead. Freshmen Aidan Dunn and Talia Bartolomi want to focus on good grades and impressions, making new friends, and making marks. Annalee, Colin and Evangeline hope to stay focused in school as well as progress in their sports. High school involves physical, mental, and social  involvement, and it’s important to spend time nourishing each one.

As expectations give way to perception and perception gives way to reality, all freshmen begin to navigate the landscape of high school with their personal, unique goals in mind.