The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

New in Town

Sophomore Maria Baggiano reflects on her time at a boarding school in Illinois as she transitions to Redondo.
New in Town

After a year with uniforms, dormitories, a bedtime and military expectations, Redondo’s relatively calmer schooling enviroment has been refreshing for sophomore Maria Gaggiano. Gaggiano spent her freshman year at a high class boarding school in Illinois, Culver Military Academies, and came to Redondo for her sophomore year. Gaggiano earned a scholarship to Culver after she first applied in search of a quality education. It progressed step-by-step from a smaller financial aid package to a full-ride scholarship for all four years of high school.

The culture at Culver was unique from Gaggiano’s middle school experience because of Culver’s contrasting social classes. Most students at Culver were wealthy and had the ability to go on weekend trips to other countries and other privileges that Gaggiano is unable to do,which made it difficult to find her circle. 

“If you have a bunch of people that are paying $66,000 a year [for school], they are from a very distinct social class that I was not a part of. They were raised in very privileged households with a lot of experience and it was very cliquey. There was a triangle hierarchy. When you’re someone that’s in a completely different level than they are, they view you differently. This makes it hard to make friends,” Gaggiano said.

According to Gaggiano, Culver brought high expectations and a defined structure to life.  Students that attend Culver are expected to give their phones away at night and are mandated to spend their evenings from 8:00pm-10:00pm doing their homework. They also underwent inspections every morning where they were expected to have a clean floor and desk, a bed made to military expectations and a uniform inspection where every button and pin mattered.

Although the rules and culture might not be what most teenagers want out of their high school experience, the schooling itself might interest those who want more guidance. There are a lot of safety nets such as retaking tests and opportunities for full credit. 

“I remember one time in my math class, a teacher stayed three hours after school with me reviewing. But I think that overall, [Redondo] prepares you more for what college is. Not everyone’s gonna be watching out for you and your grade,” Gaggiano said.

While Gaggiano spent her freshman year at Culver, her twin brother, Tomas Gaggiano, spent his at a normal Illinois public high school, which was the first time they had been separated to such a degree.

“It was hard because we’re twins, so we’ve been together our whole lives. She’s like my best friend, so when she left, it definitely took a toll on our family. At some point we just ended up getting used to it but at first it definitely was hard,” Tomas Gaggiano said.

The Gaggiano’s moved here to Redondo after a job opportunity pulled the family from Illinois to California. 

“It was very different coming in [to Redondo]. I was really worried about making friends. But the thing about Redondo is that there’s [around] 4000 people so you can always find a group. I was immediately able to integrate into cross country, and I could find my own little friend group,” Maria Gaggiano said.`

Even with experience from another public high school, Tomas also had to acclimate and find his crowd.

“It’s been a pretty similar experience from here to there for me since they’re both public schools, but it was still hard at first making friends. Eventually I made some friends and joined the tennis team and that helped me out,” Tomas Gaggiano said.

Even after the small turmoil that came with moving to Redondo, Maria is happy with the culture that is set here.

“It’s been very welcoming just because there’s so many people. You can wear anything, say anything and really be yourself because you’re always gonna have someone that’s your friend. It’s just not as judgy of an environment so I enjoy not having to worry about what I’m wearing or who I’m hanging out with,” Maria Gaggiano said.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Francisco Villegas
Francisco Villegas, Staff Writer
I don't know what to write for my bio. I'm a sophomore on the football team. That's pretty much it.

Comments (0)

All High Tide Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *