BY SOPHIA BURAGLIO
After four years at CHS, senior Olivia Myers estimates that she knows about one-third of the people in her senior class—this in contrast to being familiar with her entire All Saints’ Day School promoting eighth grade class of 21 students, most of whom attended school together for nine years.
Myers and other students with exposure to both private and public schools acknowledge that smaller student bodies—compare York’s 225 students, Catalina’s 233 and All Saints’ 175 to Carmel’s 856—can result in a vastly different environment both in and out of the classroom.
“You saw everybody almost every single period, every single day,” says Myers’ brother, freshman Ivor Myers. “So you either made really good friendships or really great enemies.” He laughs. “I never really had enemies, though.”
The Myers siblings had almost opposite experiences upon transferring from a school with an average of 20 students per grade to one with more than 200 per grade. Ivor notes that almost his entire group of friends came to CHS together, making the transition more comfortable. He also knew Carmel students from sports and other activities outside school.
“I had a really different transition than Ivor did,” Olivia says. “Mine was a lot rougher. But we also have different personalities. I was a lot more shy.”
CHS senior Joe Johnsson, who also attended All Saints’, describes how everyone in his grade had to take the same classes and therefore had the same schedule. The only exception was a choice of foreign language. His French class had only four students.
“Because it is so small, we all do mostly get along,” says junior Sammy Smock, who transferred to York School from Carmel Unified. “There is a thing where people are like ‘Oh, you’re fighting with so-and-so?’ and you’re like ‘Yeah, but it’ll be fine. We go to York, we have to make up sometime.’”
CHS junior Caitlyn Giannini attended Santa Catalina School her freshman and sophomore years and never had a class larger than 15 people. She found Carmel’s social dynamic to be different than Catalina’s in several regards: Beyond the factor of attending a coed versus all-girls school, she asserts that the larger school allows her to come into contact with people of more varied interests and backgrounds.
Interestingly, Smock experienced the same phenomenon—the opportunity to meet people from different social groups—as a result of York’s smaller classes: “People that, at public school, would be in a completely different social circle or completely different activities, you can be friends with them and spend time with them.”
However, she notes that the close-knit atmosphere does not always feel beneficial.
“Sometimes it feels like they’re trying to connect to us too much. Maybe you don’t want to have to tell your adviser everything about your life.”
CHS senior Bryce Hodges spent three and a half years at York and believes the less-connected community at Carmel can be a good thing.
“There’s not a lot of stress about pleasing everybody,” Hodges says. “You’ve got your circle, and they’ve got their circle, and everybody’s happy about that.”
Smock and Ivor Myers both explain that although many students at York and All Saints’ participate in extracurricular sports, fewer students means fewer sports options, as there aren’t enough people to fill a wide variety of teams. Myers notes that this sometimes affects the strength of a particular team.
“You couldn’t come out with a big group of people to choose from for a certain team,” he says. “You kinda had to work with what you had.”
Academically, many students switching from private to public schools experience a smooth transition. Johnsson describes how academic habits from All Saints’ made his freshman year easier than expected.
“I was amazed. I was like, ‘High school can’t be like this,’” Johnsson says. “The standards that they hold you to at All Saints’ are standards that will put you ahead of the game here.”
CHS junior Chloe Bernal, who attended Catalina for 10 years, agrees. She says that her Carmel honors classes are equivalent to regular classes at SCS. Smock attributes this to the fact that smaller classes allow for more individualized education and one-on-one time with teachers.
This more personalized approach often lets students reap benefits in terms of academic achievement, but they report that it can create greater pressure and raised stress levels. Fewer students means there’s more importance placed on each student’s individual performance.
Morgan Hill junior Chloe Obolensky spent her freshman year at Catalina and maintains that the academic transition from CMS to a school where academics were taken more seriously was difficult for her. She cites high academic pressure as the main reason she left the private school system.
“I felt the pressure to be better than everyone, when I couldn’t,” Obolensky says, “and it was really hard.”
Giannini indicates that she finds Carmel’s academics to be still rewarding, but less stressful, than those at her previous school.
“I feel like I’m still getting a really good education, and I’m being taught well and thoroughly, but the stress for me isn’t as constant or overwhelming,” Giannini says. “It’s just a better balance.”