Hezekiah Smithstein | firstname.lastname@example.org | August 27th, 2018
Imagine it’s a few weeks into your second year of high school. You’re looking forward to another day of class, and hanging out with your friends. You pack up your belongings, jump in the car, and your mother starts driving. A few blocks later, she turns onto the freeway.
“Hey Mom, where are you going?” you ask, thinking she made a wrong turn. “Oh yeah, you’re going to a new school. It’s called d.tech. Have fun! Make friends!”
For d.tech junior Lexie Lane-Crouch, that is exactly how she received the news. “She said if I refused, she’d send me to a military school in New Mexico,” Lane-Crouch explains.
In the case of most incoming students, the story of how they came to d.tech is less dramatic, but the reason they end up here is not always straightforward. Often times it is due to factors beyond them simply liking the school.
For a large number of last year’s incoming freshman class, the decision was simple: Since d.tech gives guaranteed admittance to prospects with siblings already attending the school, they figured they may as well follow in their sibling’s footsteps.
“I didn’t want to go to Woodside, and my brother Ross goes here,” says now sophomore Ellie Fulkerson. “That’s pretty much it.”
For others, parental pressure was a prevalent factor in their choice of coming to d.tech. “It was mostly my parents’, but of course I had to say yes, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair,” said sophomore Thomas Fucini. “They were saying, ‘Oh it’s so cool, and it’s different, and they use technology! And you like technology, don’t you, right?’ I felt like it was my choice, but they were pushing me a lot to say yes.”
Many upperclassmen are afraid that the external pressure on students to come such as parent or sibling influence will alter the atmosphere of the school more and more in years to come. Recent graduate Jonathan Ferreira explains, “[The freshmen’s families] hear about all of its opportunities, and all that the students are doing, and they are like ‘Oh, I want my kid to go there’, even when [the students] don’t want to go.”
The belief is that the vast majority of the founding classes came to d.tech not because their parents thought it was a good idea, or because it was a trendy up-and-coming school, but rather because they believed in what the school stood for. Because the school originally existed in a hallway in Mills, not a fancy new campus next to Oracle, the majority of students hunted for, found, and came to d.tech on the basis of the school’s ideals alone.
“For the current seniors and juniors, they only came to d.tech because they had to have the research to find it. There wasn’t a lot of coverage on it, and you had to take a risk to come, to believe in it. You had to like the message, and how they were teaching, and all that.” Ferreira says.
Senior Vlad Morozov says, “When we were applying, everyone who wanted to get into d.tech, got in. Like, straight up. And that kind of shows you that very specific people applied then to begin with. Right now, I feel like this is just an option that everyone applies to. If they know about it, they apply to d.tech, because you could get in to a cool new interesting school, but if you don’t get in, then whatever, there are different schools to go to. When we applied, it was like: ‘We want to be at this school, because we feel this is where we will do well.’ We took a chance.”
Because d.tech is so much more established and people are coming to the school for other reasons, Ferreira says, “the fact that they don’t have that trust makes them less likely to be an ideal d.tech student. A lot of what d.tech offers is based on having that trust, and based on the willingness to take risks, which just from the getgo is flawed because the average student is no longer willing to take risks.”
That isn’t to say that there aren’t also many students incoming in recent years who do want to go to d.tech, and did decide to come for the school’s ideals. Sophomore Shawhin Layeghi found out about the school through a friend in 7th grade. He decided it would be a good fit, applied for the lottery, and got in. After he shadowed, he decided it was the school for him.
“I learned that there’s a lot of personalization in the curriculum. Also, I liked the vibe of the old campus, and the new one,” Layeghi says. When talking about what he thinks of the school now that he’s here, he explains: “I didn’t really think about Intersession when I applied, and just d.lab and that kind of thing, and I like the school even more knowing about that.”
Despite the variety of ways that students end up at d.tech, many end up warming up to the new school they now call home. “Before shadowing, I thought it had a lot to do with math and science, and I heard it was the nerd school,” says sophomore Madison Shem. Now that she’s been here, she says she thinks it was a good fit. “It’s still a nerd school, but it’s a fun nerd school,” Shem says. “There’s a lot of STEM influence, but there are also kids interested in their own stuff like art, or community service.”
Whether or not you first found out about d.tech when your parents “made a wrong turn” on the way to your old high school, or sibling priority, or simply just coming because you believe in the school, one fact remains the same: we are all here. Therefore, it is up to us to make the best the uniqueness and opportunities that embody d.tech and find a way to make this school work for us.