Two years without seniors

Pioneers: The Class of 2005 will be Reservoir High's first graduates.

Education

September 15, 2004|By Laura Shovan | Laura Shovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Joey Aikins and his classmates at Reservoir High School have played the part of "seniors" for two years. Now it's for real.

The Fulton-area school will graduate its first senior class in June.

Opening in 2002 with freshmen and sophomores, administrators and teachers at Reservoir developed close ties with students. But the students sometimes missed the mentorship of older teens.

"On and off, I've felt different ways about the school," Aikins said. "I really like the people here. Back when there were two classes, it just felt like you knew everybody. ... Now it just feels like a big place."

Some of the 266-member senior class said they miss the days when teachers knew every kid. Others are proud of the legacy they will leave behind.

"We've watched the kids grow up," said Principal Addie Kaufman. "We've watched students develop leadership skills" earlier on than they would have at a fully populated school.

PTA President Gina Wilson's daughter entered as a sophomore in 2002. After a year at Atholton High, Reservoir "was like being at middle school again," Wilson said. Her daughter "was very adamant about missing older kids."

"You don't have anybody mentoring you and exhibiting behavior that is more adultlike," Wilson said. But, she added, "As kids started getting involved in stuff, it kept getting better."

Athletic Director Ken Klock agreed that as sophomores and juniors, many in the Class of 2005 missed having upperclassmen. "The upside of it is they've always been the big boys. ... The downside of it, they haven't had the mentors of the older kids or the role models," he said.

Over time, Klock said, the Class of 2005 became leaders. "They grew into that [role], even though they didn't have that afforded to them. They're able to show that to the younger kids."

The first two years at Reservoir were a time for building more than leaders. "There are procedures and policies that are just implemented automatically," at an existing school, Kaufman said. "It dawns on you that you have to create" those things at a new school.

She enjoyed the small enrollment when the school opened.

"We know the senior and junior class better than I would have ever known students at an existing school," she said. "Academically, they've gotten a great education because their teachers know them so well.

"It's been a very collaborative community with student meetings and parent meetings. We continue to do that. We are creating traditions for the senior class," such as a crab feast this weekend.

"We've gotten to start all the new traditions," said senior Katelyn Mauriello. "It'll be fun when we look back on it and know we were the ones that created it."

Seniors will choose the colors for the cap, gown and tassels that they - and all Reservoir graduates who follow - will wear when they receive their diplomas. They are experienced event planners, having put together the school's first homecoming and prom.

"A lot of seniors, including myself, are very interested in leaving a mark at Reservoir," said Jake Frelick. "We want everyone to remember us as the first class that started at this school and started it well."

Aikins, Frelick and Mauriello have participated in Project CommUNITY, which takes groups of 30 to 40 students on team-building retreats. At first, the goal of the program was to integrate redistricted students. Now, Mauriello said, the aim has shifted to "how to bring together all the different social groups."

"I can't even get over how our school has grown," Mauriello said. "Sophomore year no one wanted to be here" because they had all been separated from their friends. "It's just so positive now. It just reminds me of a real high school."

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