Walking through the halls of high school for the very first time is always a challenge. Students struggle to find classes, make new friends, and understand new procedures. This year, for one particular group, coming to Atholton proved to be more difficult than usual–and they weren’t freshmen.
“It’s my junior year,” said Azka Kaleem, a student who was redistricted from Hammond. “It was my sophomore year when [Howard County redistricted] me.”
Kaleem is one of the many students who has been required by the county to switch schools in an effort to racially and financially diversify schools, as well as to control overcrowding. Although she was “pretty calm about it” Kaleem has many mixed feelings.
“They never asked me. They just put me in a different school,” she stated.
Echoing Kaleem’s emotions is Nadia Walcott, a current junior who was redistricted from Oakland Mills.
“I didn’t support Howard County’s decision,” said Walcott. “I mean, at the end there would still be the same amount of students, just switched around. I was so mad about it.”
Both students were skeptical about coming to Atholton, since they would be leaving friends behind.
“Hearing I would be switching to a school most of my friends didn’t go to was horrifying,” said Walcott.
“They’re gonna completely change your base, change your location, change your friends group, change your classes and everything,” said Kaleem
Although students were apprehensive about switching high schools, some–in particular Howard County staff members–were content with the idea.
“I think it is a wonderful first step in a measure to make education more equitable across the county,” said Mrs. Stackhouse, an English teacher at Atholton.
The redistricting had garnered county-wide attention from parents, staff, and students, and lots of controversy was raised. Many protests took place during board meetings, and petitions were created.
“I think that there is a misperception of there being a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ areas’ of Howard County, and that is, in my opinion, absolutely not the case,” said Mrs. Stackhouse.
Nevertheless, despite their reluctance to come to Atholton, students have now come to terms with the matter.
Walcott said, “Now, I support it, or at least accept it,” she said. “I’ve gotten used to Atholton and I really like it a lot.”