Student Discovers America Through North Atlanta High School


Jack Stenger

New country, new school and a slew of life lessons for Adriana Bader at North Atlanta.

To those first introduced to the North Atlanta building, it seems impossibly huge. Eleven stories, a small lake, all along with eight elevators and 1,800 students.

It would be hard enough to go from attending a small school and then attending gargantuan North Atlanta. But it would be all the harder if a student came from a small school in a faraway country. Sophomore Adriana Bader started at North Atlanta this year after moving with her family to Atlanta from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Her family was living in the Middle Eastern country for many years where he father owned and ran a company. Bader, now 15, was born in Miami but she moved with her family to Dubai when she was just two years old. “I’d been here during vacation, but living here, seeing the different lifestyle has changed me personally,” she said.

She is of Lebanese descent with a mother from Lebanon and a father who is a Lebanese-American. This fall, a series of massive life adjustments came her way and these started with her enrollment at North Atlanta. “Just seeing the building freaked me out,” she said.

Her much smaller middle school in Dubai only had two stories. “It was very different coming here where there are so many people. It was something that took some getting used to,” she said.

Beyond the school building’s size, there was a more general acclimating process associated with the American educational schedule. In Dubai school lasts from Sunday to Thursday and the students are all collectively put into a singular group in which they take all their classes together. From kindergarten to middle school, or primary school, the teachers transition classrooms instead of the students. Students don’t usually get homework and instead are expected to study for upcoming reviews and pop tests.

School life in Dubai is quite different from school life in Atlanta. “It was a lot smaller over there and the teachers were all our friends. At my old school, you knew everybody, everybody knew you,” she said.

She said her first year at North Atlanta has been one of personal growth and developing new friendships. Her teachers, she said, have been open, welcoming and friendly. Transitioning from class to class is very different, as well as seeing so many different faces both in her classes and the hallways. “There’s always someone new to meet here,” she said.

To get used to life in a new school, Bader threw herself into student life at North Atlanta. She played on the junior varsity soccer team this spring and said she enjoyed the camaraderie felt among her teammates. Where classes are concerned, she said she has especially enjoyed her American Government class with teacher Jerek Brown. “In Dubai people don’t really talk about presidents and things like that back,” she said.

In the future she said she wants to either become a lawyer or possibly become the owner of a soccer academy for youth. “I love the game. It’s kind of my passion,” she said.

For Bader this year it’s been a brand new country and school, along with a constant stream of new discoveries. “There’s been so much. I can’t imagine what’s going to come next for my sophomore year,” she said.