Moving from a private school to a public school during highschool

Iffat Pathan

Staff Writer 

     As the seconds pass, the waging war between public and private school worsens. The private school kids get ready for battle in their crisp, ironed uniforms while the public school kids sharpen their pencils and practice their spit ball aim. Well, maybe I digress, but it’s well-known that private school and public kids have a sort of tension between them. Both parties have their own stereotypes of what they believe the latter to act like: public school kids are wild and undisciplined while private school kids are snobby and stuck-up. However, one student has survived the war to tell a strange tale about the best of both worlds.

     Her whole life, Rahaf Mohammad, a senior at American High School, has gone to private school, that is, until her sophomore year of highschool. “When I was very little, my parents already decided that they wanted to send me to private school, so I was put into private school during kindergarten. Even before that actually I was put into little private preschools where they would tutor us on all types of math problems. It was kind of funny because I had no idea what was going on as a 4 year old,” jokes Rahaf as she remembers her early years in private school. “One thing I liked about private school was the classroom size. We only had about 12 to 20 people, so it made it easier for the teacher to pay attention to each student and teach efficiently” 

Rahaf on the top left with her public school friends at American High School.

     However, a small school is not always the best, and sometimes the bonds that you make can become a little forced. “This is more of a personal experience but I found that not a lot of the students at private school were as welcoming as I would have liked them to be. Even though all the students are close and grow up together, there is definitely a competitive atmosphere that can ruin a lot of friendships” 

     Rahaf’s childhood friend, Sana Pathan, understands how competitive private school can get, saying, “It’s not surprising that students get caught in the competitive atmosphere. If I went to private I would probably start competing as well since the limited amount of students makes you want to stand out.” She thinks for a moment before adding, “But I noticed that Rahaf is not like that. She only thinks about being a good friend rather than being caught up in drama and I love that about her. She’s really just a pure person” 

     After noticing that private school might not be the best option for Rahaf, her parents decided to move her to American High School during her sophomore year. “We always thought the atmosphere for private might be better than public school. We actually moved from San Francisco to Fremont because there were better options for private school here. But after Rahaf started highschool, we started to realize that maybe private school is not so different then public school, so why waste money if they are both more similar than different,” explains Rahaf’s mom, Yamina Mohammad. 

     “The biggest shock of public school was definitely how nice people are here. At my private school, even my closest friends would always pick on me, and I always assumed that it was normal for friends to do that, but public school showed me that that’s not the case” Rahaf answers when asked about public school. “People at my private honestly made public school sound so bad. They would talk about how there are so many bullies and drug addicts so I was kind of nervous to attend American at first. But it was definitely way better than I expected.”

     Public school was not only nicer than Rahaf expected but it also left an impression on her personality. Rahaf’s younger sister, Safa Mohammad, followed Rahaf’s footsteps into public school and noticed how the new school was changing her sister. “Rahaf is definitely more confident since going to public school. I feel like private school is a place where everyone expects you to be perfect, so insecurities are bound to come out. But in public school where there is more diversity and less judgment, it’s easier to be yourself.”

     Although private had its downfalls, Rahaf is ultimately grateful for her experiences at private school. “ Ultimately, you have to know yourself and what is best for you in order to decide what kind of school you want to go to. Although I probably wouldn’t go back to private school if I had the choice, the experience made me appreciate the connections I made. I’m glad I got to experience both worlds.” 

Rahaf’s graduation picture for American High School.

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