Transfer students find a home in the Minnehaha community
It was an early morning in January 2011 when junior Kat Knutson woke up to get ready. Halfway through her freshman year, she had the chance to start over – and she was worried out of her mind. Too nervous to eat breakfast, she spent hours obsessing over her looks, and then it was finally time to go.
When Knutson and her dad stopped outside the school, she climbed out of the car and with a deep breath walked in through the big gray doors.
“I stood in front of my locker trying to open it for ten minutes!” said Knutson. “Eventually, Frances [Hoekstra, junior] saw my struggles, [and] said I was going to be late to class.”
Turns out, Knutson and Hoekstra had the same class. As the bell rang they ran into class but as they did, Hoekstra knocked over the Rev. Dan Bergstrom’s coffee. Though it was an embarrassing moment for Hoekstra, it was just what Knutson needed to calm her nerves.
“My first thought was ‘I fit at MA so well!’” said Knutson. “Frances was really awkwardly cleaning it up, which is just how I would’ve been.”
Transferring schools is different for everyone. Some students begin a new school with ease, while some struggle through awkward moments. For Knutson, a new classmate’s fumble showed her that she made the right choice in deciding to leave behind bad influences and broken friendships, but not every student has the choice of whether or not to transfer.
“I moved from California because my mom got married and I had to come,” said senior Ericka Vernon. “At first, it was all so hard. All I wanted to do was get back to California, but as I got older, I realized that Minnesota and Minnehaha was the place for me.”
Junior Becky Singletary was not a stranger to moving due to her dad’s job as an NFL coach. When he became linebacker coach and assistant coach for the Minnesota Vikings, they moved again. However, soon enough Singletary felt right at home.
“Everybody was so welcoming and inclusive,” said Singletary. “[They] asked me if I needed help finding classes and made sure I was never by myself.”
Despite her warm welcome, Singletary still found changing states and schools hard.
“I am happy I transferred, but there are moments when I do miss my friends from California,” said Singletary. “My friendships from California differed greatly. Some people were never heard of again and others I talked to everyday.”
For sophomore Carissa Shern a change was needed from the students and school she had gone to for ten years. Because of family ties, Shern had already made up her mind to go to another school.
“I was trying to keep a closed mind because I knew I was going to go to Holy Angels,” said Shern.
But shadowing made all the difference.
“When I shadowed at Holy Angels, I felt like an actual shadow.,” said Shern. “My host had me walk behind her and it just wasn’t a good experience. But when I came here I felt like a normal student already, and I walked around and I really liked it here. I remember going into my mom’s car after I shadowed and she asked which I liked better. I said ‘I hate to say this, but Minnehaha!’”
Junior Emma Johnson, who transferred in her sixth grade year, moved closer to the cities when her father got tired of his long commute. Though she came to the school where her uncle, Dean of Students Lance Johnson, works and the students helped her feel accepted, moving schools still wasn’t easy.
“Transferring schools really taught me how to be brave,” said Johnson. “I came to Minnehaha knowing one student. I had no classes with that student, so being a new kid at Minnehaha really taught me to reach out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.”
Being put into a new school, though difficult, is a way that many students have developed social skills. Sophomore Davis Ryan, a MA “lifer”, has never had that experience.
“[Being at the same school] has prevented me from being in a lot of new situations, situations that need practice,” said Ryan. “I observed some friends who haven’t been with the same people since kindergarten and have moved schools a lot, and they react differently when meeting new people.”
Physics/AP chemistry teacher Erik Hadland knows what it’s like to transfer, because he did it three times during high school. “Something not a lot of people realize is that, when you’re the new kid, it’s really up to you to put yourself out there to make friends,” said Hadland. “It’s hard, it’s not fair, and it doesn’t always work the first time. But it will work eventually.”
Whether you had the choice to transfer or not, Knutson shows how it can work out better than expected.
“Minnehaha has changed my life,” said Knutson. “It’s literally the school I dreamed of, but thought wasn’t possible. They took me as who I was when I came to Minnehaha, not who I had been.”