Opinion

Dear Incoming Freshman, 

Welcome! You’re about to open a new chapter in your story. The next four years will be full of some of the most memorable experiences and wonderful friendships you’ll ever have. Your high school experience may be starting off a bit rocky, but with the right outlook and initiative, you’ll be on your way to a successful and exciting future. With some tips from a seasoned professional, you can take advantage of what you’ve got.

I, too, am beginning the next chapter of my life as you are doing yourself. I get it; it’s an unpredictable and slightly terrifying future ahead of us. However, we have to work with what’s in front of us in order to make the most of this peculiar situation.  Over the past 6 months of quarantine, I’ve had plenty of time to reminisce and reflect on my last three years here, and as a senior, it’s only fair to share my experiences and advice. 

In terms of academics, I’ll give you three tips. That being said, this is not “High School Musical.” High school is hard; it exists to challenge you, so number one: do your homework. And you better do it sooner rather than later. I hate to sound like a broken record, but in order to stay afloat, you’ll need to rely on homework points. Either graded off of completion or accuracy, the grades you get on these will save your butt when tests start rolling along. Some classes don’t even grade the homework, and that’s when it matters the most. My best example is honors geometry, a sophomore class. Here you almost only get test grades and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then you’re in for a world of hurt. Which brings me to point two: studying. Chances are you’ve been able to breeze by up until now without really dedicating time to full on study, but American Cultures and algebra are beasts, and not one’s easily tamed. So when a teacher says take notes, take notes. What’s important to know about studying is that there are endless ways of doing it, you just need to find the one that works for you. So my advice, switch it up. Rotate through different studying methods and see which one sticks. Troubleshooting seems risky, but seriously pays off in the end. My personal favorites: doing homework in a group and rereading notes first thing in the morning. Which brings me to number three: take the required classes seriously. In order to graduate, you need three credits in history, science, and math and all four years of English, not to mention health, phys ed, Lifesmarts and your arts/humanity courses. Over the next four years, you need to pass these classes and get the necessary credits in order to graduate, and no one wants you to be held back.

Now, that sounds stressful, which it is, so it is perfectly normal to be anxious and confused like 24/7. This environment is not just challenging, but constantly changing both academically and socially and it can be hard to adjust to. Now I realize that our Freshman years will differ pretty drastically, but what’s important to know is that you aren’t in this alone. There’s over a hundred students feeling the exact way you are and plenty of upperclassmen who’ve had their own versions. I can’t speak for all of us, but most upperclassmen aren’t out to get you. So my advice: find a mom-friend, someone who will take you under their wing and help you navigate. All of us have been adopted by an upperclassman in our first year, call it a right of passage. With that in mind, just know that friendships both blossom and change here. You’re growing up, and people grow apart. Friendships don’t always translate well into high school, not even year to year. You’ll be under a lot of stress with plenty of sleep deprivation and this is when people start showing their true colors. It happens, unfortunately so, but it happens. On the flipside though you’ll have countless opportunities to forge new bonds whether it’s with friends or mentors.

My overall favorite aspect of high school are the bonds created between student and teacher. They realize you aren’t children anymore and they treat you with the respect of an old friend. With the occasional exception, your teachers will be your best friend throughout all four years (especially the 9th grade bunch). One of the most prominent aspects of my freshman year was sitting in Mr. Pearce’s honors Algebra II class. If you have this honor then boy are you in for a wild ride. Just when algebra is the most tedious and unforgiving class you’ve ever sat through, Pearce will just sit there being his iconic self. He seems all strict and scary but I assure you this man will rejuvenate your sanity. One of the things I’ve noticed in this class was just how friendly you’re allowed to be. We’d draw on his board, write his wacky quotes all around the room, make fun of the lame math puns on his t-shirts, and even give him nicknames. Ricky P- the man, the myth, the math geek. But this goes for everyone: debating with Mr. Frick, the most random life discussions with Dos, and starting the day with the brightest smile from Mrs. Schneider.

These four years fly by. Even though we’re starting online, the day will come when you walk into the building for the first time. Yeah, you’ll get locked out of your locker, get lost a couple of times, and be an overall anxious mess, but you’ll manage. High school is both your sweetest dream and worst nightmare all rolled together, and I can’t even begin to tell you just how much I’ll miss it. Take this and use it to your best advantage. I can only hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Good luck class of 2024

Sincerely,

Class of 2021