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AJA By the Numbers

Navigating Students’ Neighborhoods

Did you know that 100% of AJA students live on planet Earth? In fact, 100% of students also live in the Northwestern Hemisphere. If that is not enough, 100% of AJA students live in the US, and 100% of AJA students also live in the state of Georgia. Even more shocking, 100% of AJA students live in the Atlanta area. However, once narrowed down, students’ abodes begin to vary by neighborhood. These differences in location result in varying morning routines, afternoon commutes, and time spent with friends.

Although AJA is located in Sandy Springs, the most populous neighborhood for AJA students is Toco Hills (colloquially known as Toco), a community in North Druid Hills about twenty minutes away from school. In total, an average of 72.84% of AJA High School students live in Toco, accounting for 59 students. While the percentage of Freshmen and Seniors in Toco run relatively close to this average, at 77.78% and 71.43% respectively, the percentage of Sophomores and Juniors in Toco are outliers. Amongst the Junior class, 93.33% live in Toco. Conversely, only 59.26% of Sophomores live in Toco. While there is a smaller ratio of those living in Toco amongst the Sophomores, this class does have the most students in the High School, thereby providing more opportunities for variation in neighborhoods.

For many, the vast majority of AJA students living in Toco comes with advantages. Senior Micah Feit Mann, who lives in Toco, appreciated that “all of my friends are nearby.” Because of this, Micah expressed how he and his friends “get to hang out more on Shabbos.” Freshman Dassie Chasen agreed, noting that having friends in Toco provides unique opportunities to bond with friends. Similarly, when he recently joined the AJA community, freshman Ami Korn explained that his family decided to live in Toco not only because they were already familiar with a Toco family, but also because “we knew that most of the kids from the school lived there.”

Despite the benefits of living in Toco, this neighborhood does have its downsides for some students. Kayla Joel, a freshman, has found herself running into frequent, “really awkward” situations where she ran into familiar faces at grocery stores who “[tried] to start a conversation.” She clarified that a unique feature of Toco is that “you know everyone… absolutely everyone.” This ubiquity, while sometimes beneficial, makes for uncomfortable small talk for those shopping in grocery stores or trying to take Shabbat strolls in solitude.

Additionally, the longer commute from Toco to AJA has proved difficult for students. When asked about his commute, Micah succinctly remarked, “I wish it was shorter.” Due to the distance, Micah, who sometimes drives a carpool, usually has to leave thirty minutes earlier than school begins to ensure that he arrives on time. 

Although AJA is located in Sandy Springs… 72.84% of AJA High School students live in Toco.

For those who take AJA’s Toco bus to school, this commute can be even more challenging. Zellik Silverberg, a sophomore who takes the bus in the mornings, described this as “extremely burdensome.” Because he doesn’t have a consistent carpool to the bus stop itself, “I have to walk in the morning, in the cold, to the bus.” Therefore, he has to leave around 7:00 AM, even earlier than the average Toco resident, to account for the ten to fifteen-minute walk to the bus, sometimes braving inclement weather while doing so.

Far behind Toco Hills, 13.58% of High School students live in Sandy Springs, the second most populous neighborhood and location of AJA itself. When it comes to grade level, 5.56% of Freshmen, 22.22% of Sophomores, no Juniors, and 19.05% of Seniors live in Sandy Springs. Yet, amongst those who live in Sandy Springs, only 63.64% live within the High Point area.

Despite the solitude from much of the AJA student body, living in Sandy Springs can be extremely advantageous, as sophomore Adiel Livnat believed. Adiel “love[s]” his location because he has the privilege of waking up as late as 7:30 AM and walking to school five minutes before it begins. Even though he is limited in opportunities to be with friends when compared to those who live in Toco, Adiel makes an effort to visit Toco “enough where I still get to have fun with my friends.” Additionally, Adiel appreciates his ability to “invite friends over to [his] house” and provide a unique venue outside of Toco Hills.

Right after Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee are the final neighborhoods to enter the podium, housing 7.41% and 2.47% of the student body, respectively. Adam Berkowitz, the only junior who lives outside of Toco Hills, explained that he is not within walking distance of the other students in Dunwoody, as the students in Dunwoody are spread out from each other. Adam expressed that his distance from both Toco and AJA “can be annoying sometimes.” Specifically, he explained that if he wanted to go to an oneg or other school event, “I have to make a lot of plans, whereas other people can just walk over.”

Even still, some students do not live in any of the above neighborhoods. This small group of students accounts for 4.94% of the study body who are distributed across Buckhead, Norcross, Marietta, and Morningside. These students experience the greatest difficulty getting to school, meeting up with friends, and attending school events. Freshman AE Rosenthal, who lives in Buckhead, has a thirty-minute commute to school. To combat this distance, AE tries to meet up with friends on Sunday rather than Shabbat, and “if they live in Sandy Springs, I walk after school.”

Whether a student lives in Toco Hills, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, or even Norcross, each member of the AJA community finds their way to participate in the school’s family. Reflecting on the various locations that people live in, Adiel recalled the phrase, “The travel is half the journey.” Despite the various neighborhoods that students live in, they come together daily at school and for events because, as sophomore and Sandy Springs resident Goldie Teyf put it, “AJA appeals to everyone, [no matter where they live].”

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