New Student freshman Samantha Grizzle standing outside smiling at the camera.

New Student freshman Samantha Grizzle standing outside smiling at the camera.

Students Take on the Challenge of a New School and COVID-19

Being a new student at school is a challenge on its own, and with masks covering up smiles, sometimes it can be more difficult to get to know people. Despite the social distancing and half-faces, new students have flourished in their classes. 

Mrs. Sigrist, the Director of Admissions, meets with almost every new student and their families, making sure they feel at home. Like most of the faculty here, she is passionate about her job and bringing smart, God-fearing, new students to Grace Prep. 

This year, enrollment increased by 106 new students this year, 29 of which are high school students. 

“It seems to always level out right around 100 kids,” Sigrist said with a smiling face. 

With her help and a team of welcoming faculty, the school makes new students feel not only safe but also like family. 

Unlike other schools this year, GPA offers in-person classes. Online school is very hard for both students and teachers, so they settled on a more familiar route. Despite the fact many families are looking for a traditional option for their kids, it did not seem to be a huge draw-in for new families. 

“This is a different model,” Mrs. Sigrist said, “It’s not something you do just because we are open.” 

Tuition, smaller classes, fewer days, and university model education were deal breakers for most families. Due to these factors, the school did not see a significant increase in the average number of students. Although it’s not for everyone, for the 106 new students at GPA, it’s worth it. 

  For such a small school, around 100 new students every year is substantial. Although online classes may be the safer route, nearly all of the new students started the school year in person. 

New student, Freshman Samantha Grizzle, found her fit. On her first day, she did not know anyone, but now she is fitting in great. Her parents visited the school, and according to Grizzle, they “immediately knew” that Grace was the place for her. 

When asked whether she thought the school was her forever home, she said, “Probably…it’s excellent compared to my old school.” 

Grizzle is a competitive swimmer and part of the journalism team. She is currently advocating for the board to consider adding swim to the list of athletics. 

When asked if she thought Covid had hindered her in making new friends, she said, “I mean kinda, because I don’t get to like see them outside of school as often.”

Thankfully, Grizzle now has a large group of friends, and it’s rare to see her in the hallways alone.  

Junior Anna Shipman, who is part of the drama team at Grace, is also new this year. Despite Covid, she did not seem to have any problems making friends. 

Shipman said, “At first it was just irritating but now I’m used to it.”

Shipman is part of the student council and puts a lot into her new high school home. Although coming in as an upperclassman can be tough, due to friendships already being established, Shipman fits in great and loves the school. 

Covid has not held Shipman back, and she says that making friends “probably wouldn’t be any different” for her even if things were normal. 

Despite the obstacles, Shipman and Grizzle love their new school and have had no problems finding their way around. With such an inviting atmosphere, most of the new students love their new school and plan on staying here.

Opportunities overflow at GPA with excellent athletic programs, selfless faculty, and challenging classes. Despite social distancing and masks blocking new faces, new students have not only flourished but thrived at Grace Prep. 

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