Private school students have connections to former Mason peers

Samantha Stulen | Staff Writer

Former Mason students have switched to private high schools, but have not forgotten their Mason comrades. The students have transitioned from the populated Mason public school system to smaller academies, but some still maintain ties to their former Mason peers.St. Xavier High School freshman Nathan Lingler said he has made new friends at his school, but still hangs out with his friends from Mason frequently.

“I hang out with all my friends from Mason,” Lingler said. “I talk to them through Facebook [and we hang out on the] weekends. Since most of my friends [from St. X] live kind of [on the] west side [of Cincinnati], I got the guys from Mason [who are closer], since I can’t really drive yet.”

Ursuline Acadmey junior Komal Safdar said she doesn’t stay as connected to her friends from Mason as she does with her Ursuline peers, but said this is only due to her changing interests and attending a different school.

“I’ll still go to some of the random birthday parties [for my Mason friends], or we’ll have random gatherings or I’ll see them outside of school events, like tennis, a lot,” Safdar said. “I’ll still communicate with them and randomly we’ll meet up, [but] it’s not the same friendships, because [there’s] less in common, less to talk about. [I have] new groups of friends.”

Despite the lack of communication between times when Safdar talks to her Mason friends, Safdar said she really enjoys coming to Mason football games and other sporting events, because they give her a chance to see her former peers from Mason Middle School.

The lecture-based classes are what attracted Lingler to private school, he said, because they would allow him to prepare for college.

“The way the classes are run is what I think of college, [which] is kind of what I think of St. X, only [St. X has] smaller classes, [with] 30 [students] instead of 300,” Lingler said.

Safdar said her education at Ursuline will also be beneficial to her schooling at college.

“I really do feel like Ursuline has prepared me,” Safdar said. “The academics are [really top-notch]; I feel like I’ve gotten my habit of studying [down] really well and [have been] working hard. This goes with the Ursuline schedule: you have a lot of responsibility and free-time on your own.”

The classes themselves are very challenging at these private institutions, according to both Safdar and Lingler. Lingler said he must make an effort at St. X to achieve grades he wants.

“My hardest class is math,” Lingler said. “I have one of the most brilliant teachers in the school, [but] I have to try and I still get 80s. At St. X, [classes are] lecture-based. I like lecture more because it’s more knowledge versus just trying to piece it all together. [This prepares me] for college.”

While both Ursuline and St. X are college preparatory, both are devoid of students of the opposite gender, which Safdar said she likes because of the freedom from being judged.

“[Without boys, there are] less distractions,” Safdar said. “I feel like you’re more confident. With guys in the class, you might think twice before you answer something. Also, everyone’s just laid back. You don’t have to get dressed up every morning. It’s all girls; everyone’s just a big family.”

AJ Gatio, a senior at Moeller High School, said he regrets not spending a lot of time continuing the friendships from Mason during his high school career.

“I wish I would have done better [at maintaining Mason relationships],” Gatio said.

Gatio said he only talks to close friends, but relationships with other acquaintances with whom he hung out and was content have faded away.

“I live right in Mason,” Gatio said. “I’ll run into people, but as far as hanging out and making plans to chill with people, I didn’t do that as much I wish I would have. Now when you really want to [hang out, you] feel like there’s been a lot of time passed [and] maybe I shouldn’t do that, because that would be a little weird — it’s been a year.”

Gatio said he has kept strong friendships over the years at Moeller, and is friends with most students in his school due to the small class size, getting involved and having a consistent homeroom for all four years of high school.

“Transition [from Mason] is definitely a hard thing to do,” Gatio said. “I went in knowing one other person out of a class of about 270 kids. The best way to ease the transition is to get involved. For me, it was football. I knew about 90 kids before I even started class.”

According to Gatio, a student’s homeroom at Moeller consists of five seniors, five juniors, five sophomore and five freshmen for all four years, allowing him to meet people of all grades.

“Each year, you get rid of the five seniors and get five new freshmen, so you’re with the same underclassmen,” Gatio said. “I know those underclassmen a lot better than [most underclassmen]. [The people in my homeroom] I talk to the most, especially in your grade. I have three guys out of the four I’m legit friends [with].”

Gatio said he wishes he would have maintained his relationships more, but another ex-Mason student said he still communicates with his friends from Mason.

Josh Wang, a senior at Seven Hills High School, said he keeps connected to his former Mason peers by being a member of MHS’ club hockey team with fellow Mason members.

“I play hockey through the Mason club team; I play with a lot of kids [I grew up with and] we practice two times a week and we have games,” Wang said. “Facebook is really helpful with other friends too.”

Wang said he lives in Mason and still hangs out with his friends, but has also branched out to more friends at a smaller school like Seven Hills.

“The students at my school are really open and really welcoming, so it wasn’t that hard for me [to make friends],” Wang said. “It was definitely different for me, [though]. My current class size [has] 79 kids graduating and I got to know everybody in my grade.”

However, with a small, intimate class, the atmosphere is also academically focused, said Wang.

“We’re supposed to be like college-prep school,” Wang said. “One of the big things is it’s a small class size and teachers really get to know and focus on their students.”

According to Wang, the lecture-based classes have also prepared him for college; he has applied to Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University, Princeton University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Chicago and the University of Washington. He doesn’t think, however, that going to a private school gives him an advantage in the college admittance process.

“I don’t know how much places look at [whether I attend a private or public school],” Wang said. “I haven’t really had any experience where I got in because I went to [a] private school.”

Having attended a private school and a public school in his life, Wang said he is glad he experienced both worlds.

“I had a good experience at Mason: it’s a good school, and I had a really good experience at Seven Hills, so I’m glad I did what I did,” Wang said.

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