The challenges of moving to Sisters schools


Last updated 10/10/2023 at 11:34am

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Kendall Guiney values the closeness at SHS.

Addie Laird is a senior here at Sisters High School - one of the "new kids" that are coming into Sisters schools as the community grows.

Laird moved here her junior year. She claimed to have a challenging experience first moving to Sisters because everyone seemed very "cliquey," and didn't want to welcome new students into their friend group. Laird also explained that her classmates and teachers did an "alright" job of helping her feel welcomed. She explained that some of her teachers were very interested in her arrival, as others just taught the curriculum and never asked about where she came from or made any small talk.

"My classmates didn't help much," she said. "I felt like I was a ghost that no one paid attention to, but I did have good experiences with others. I feel that to do better, you could create conversation or acknowledge their presence and introduce yourself."

Laird described the IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition) class, lacrosse, and wrestling as places where she felt more included.

Ted Stolasz, who is now a senior, moved to Sisters a number of years ago. Stolasz explained that moving to Sisters wasn't as hard as he thought because he had moved many times before. When asked what teachers helped him feel welcomed, Stolasz made note of Gail Greaney because "she taught me how to really think reasonably and rationally when it comes to decisions." He also cited Daniel O'Neill because, "He has been the best teacher I've ever had in school. He's the smartest person I know and we are all very fortunate to have a mind like that able to teach the next generation of the world."

Sisters Oregon Guide

Stolasz also claimed that "Sisters' biggest strength is also its biggest weakness." He says that the small community benefits its people because it allows for many connections - but it also poses issues because of the limited diversity. Stolasz said that swimming and track helped him feel welcomed and fall into his group of friends.

Kendall Guiney transferred to Sisters High School last year as a junior, from Mountain View High School. Guiney explained that she enjoyed the transition from such a large school to a smaller school because the closeness of the people at Sisters High School is very special.

"As an introvert, I've never really been a social person," she said, "so finding friends, clubs, groups, hobbies, etc. was a bit of a challenge for me. However, once I became familiar with the community and the school, my social anxieties sort of disappeared because I felt welcomed."

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Guiney also said that the teachers and students were both very kind and welcoming when she first arrived, but she stated "SHS students don't really have cliques, however most SHS students have been close together since kindergarten, so as a new kid, it was a little bit more difficult to connect with other students. But eventually I was able to find a group of friends; it just took a little while."

Guiney listed the Americana Project as a big element in helping her find her place and discover who she is.

Photo by Charlotte Seymour

Sisters High School senior Ted Stolasz.

A piece of advice towards new students from each of the interviewees is to get involved, put yourself out there, and join a new activity or elective. They note that every new student has a different experience, so if you're a student in Sisters School District and you see someone new, try to say hi to them, make them feel welcomed. You have no idea how much it could mean to them.

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Editor's note: Young people are as susceptible as anyone to feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially when fitting in to a new community. Schools Superintendent Curt Scholl will talk about how the Sisters School District addresses these issues in a town hall titled "You Are Not Alone," co-sponsored by Citizens4Community (C4C) and The Nugget on Thursday, October 26, at Sisters Fire District Community Hall, 302 S. Elm St. in Sisters.


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