Student Life

Family of Friends: The Curious Camaraderie of Grade 10

by Sabrina Schongalla

Usually, being a teenager means that you are trying to discover who you are, and that generally means identifying with certain groups more than others.  There are cliques and there’s drama.  Some kids feel left out and others are seen as the “popular crowd”.  Even when a class is small not everyone is close.  If everyone in your class were your close friends, what would class be like?  As it turns out, the 10th Grade can tell you.  The 10th Grade is a group of 17 close friends who have chosen to include one another, enjoying social events with those they work alongside every day in school.

“We try to hang out at least once a month where we all meet for maximum chill time,” explains Sophomore Taila Senanu.  “To make sure everyone is included we have a group chat so that everyone knows about it and we carpool so everyone can get there.”

Even when technology fails, these students come through for one another.  “Jerbear (Sophomore Jeremiah Yoder) doesn’t have Facebook, so I’m his private contact,” explains Sophomore Jacob Oberg, who also goes by the nickname of “Le Burkinabe”.  Nicknames crop up throughout the group, commemorating inside jokes and personal moments, and serve as fun reminders of times these friends have shared.

“We usually go out to restaurants [or] host movie nights or parties,” explains Sophomore Sara Etukudo.  “Sometimes we don’t always plan it and [just] walk into people’s houses.”  The camaraderie is described by these students as feeling stronger than friendship.

“All of the people in this class are such nice people and I really love all of them.  I feel like they are my family,” says Sophomore Abdoulati Aljarem.  When a group is this close, individuals are more confident.

“As a person I feel reassured that there are people who I can count on and who believe in me,” says Sophomore Claierose Soriano, who has “also learned to be more accepting and understanding of other people” based on the relationships she has built with her inclusive group of friends.

“[These] friends changed me as a person because they allowed me to open up to them,” says Sophomore Cloud Nibitanga, aka “Kandash”.  Nibitanga says “I certainly plan to keep in touch with as much people as I can and see them in the future,” noting that social media will most likely help that happen.

Though new to the class this year, Sophomore Malin Meyer “was really surprised to see this kindness in this class because [she] hadn’t experienced it before”.  Meyer describes the positive impact that this group friendship has had on her, as she is excited to “meet someone [she] already knows” with “such great friends all over the world”.

The positive impact a caring group of friends has on each individual can be profound.  “When I came here last year I was kind of stressed about meeting new people and if they would like me.  Now I feel more comfortable and I want to be with them,” shares Sophomore Noura Ouattara.

Kevin Zoungrana and Marie Balandi with former classmate Shivani Vashwani.

“I think it makes me want to go to school [because] it gives me some kind of motivation,” explains Sophomore Kevin Zoungrana, whose first paper this year also described, with moving sincerity, what it would be like for this group to graduate and move apart.


“The friendship of my classmates has made me reconsider how good of a friend I am to them and to others,” reflects Sophomore Hulda Compaore, taking lessons from the group dynamic.

Whether part of the class for years or new to the group for a month, “people are close because people are all really comfortable around everyone and just talk to everyone,” says Sophomore Credo Ishimwe.  And this seems to be the essential ingredient, or the “glue” that bonds this group: security.  By including one another consistently, working together, communicating, and sharing laughter, this group has empowered one another.  They can make mistakes in front of one another because they are assured that they will never be made to feel stupid or small.  They will encourage one another, celebrate one another’s successes, and will continue “learning to understand each other,” as Sophomore Lorena Edah points out.

“I think our class has become so close because these hangouts allowed us to learn people’s strengths and weaknesses so we are able to joke around without hurting them,” says Sophomore Marie Balandi, which shows how intuitive these students are, as they are deliberate in their compassion toward one another.

Sophomore Paul “Pablo” Zaulda remembers, “I had my birthday [party] at my home [with] a bar and a bonfire – the whole sha-bam!  I was putting on music and Jacob noticed the bonfire had lit my grass on fire.  In a panic Jeremiah runs for the party cups while I went looking for a bucket,” recalling a silly time that the group laughs about now.  Zaulda says, “I don’t want to forget these people I’ve so many memories with”.

Grade 10 students have come together in ways that many would like but few achieve.  They do the work to be a family.  With a uniting “us against the world” spirit (as described by Yoder) this group has succeeded in becoming much more than a class.  Although many from this group will spend their junior and senior years in new schools, they will surely greet those new friends with the friendship they’ve instilled in one another.  And when times are tough, each of these students will always have 16 others to fall back on, even if they are a Facebook message away.

Classmates not quoted: Sille Knudsen, Ramsey Omais



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