Better integration needed for military students

Emma Elliott, Staff Writer

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Students and staff of public schools alike need to be more inclusive with new military students.

After readapting to 10 new places over the course of the last 14 years due to my dad’s job in the Army, I’ve seen and experienced the many cultural differences between civilian and military-based schools.

Civilian public schools need to do better at welcoming and integrating new military students into their student body.

The students attending schools that are more used to an influx of military kids are more likely to include these new kids in their conversations and crack jokes to make them more at ease. I have rarely seen this at civilian schools, especially large ones.

Students are often in their own world and make no effort to reach out to the new arrivals, leaving said new arrivals feel more isolated while putting all of the work of meeting new people in their hands.

Children of younger ages are often quick to make new friends. You could go to any elementary school, sit two kids beside each other, and within minutes a new friendship will have bloomed. Teenagers are different.

While all teenagers have their own worries about school, friends and plans, we often forget to be empathetic and notice the struggles of others.

Instead of leaving that new kid to navigate a new school on their own, we should all be more helpful. Offer a guide around the school, a place to sit at lunch, or a chance to be welcomed into your group. Even better, do all three.

It’s insanely difficult to move to a brand new place, meet multitudes of unfamiliar faces throughout the day, adjust to the emotions that come with being separated from your old friends and keep a level head all the while — not to mention that there is sometimes a deployed parent on top of that. If all we did was offer a little kindness, a transition to a new school — especially one as large as Manhattan High — would automatically be significantly less daunting.

Teachers should also do their best to make these students comfortable. In my experience, not every teacher tries their best to catch them up on the things they have already taught to the rest of the class, and instead assume the student can pick up exactly where their fellow classmates are. This is wrong on all accounts.

To make these moves less difficult, everyone needs to be more mindful of how these new students feel and just be a nice person. Give them a smile. Ask their name and where they’ve come from. All you have to do is put your phone down and start a conversation.


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