With the recent end of the school year, many people are already anticipating and planning for the new one that begins in August. Last year’s juniors have already begun to bask in the glory of being the newest “big shots”. Last year’s sophomores will prepare themselves for the heavy course load that awaits them in the fall. And, last year’s freshmen will take in the relief of knowing that they are no longer the youngest kids in school. And then, of course, last year’s eighth grade class will spend the summer nervously and aimlessly wondering what will become of them during their transition into high school.
The incoming freshmen are scheduled to face some serious changes in the next few months. Gone are the days where they roamed the narrow hallways of their middle schools, feeling “large and in charge” because they had successfully made it to the top of the middle school totem pole. Gone are the sea of familiar faces, the empty binders, and the strict rules that govern their every move. High school, as these students will soon learn, will be a world away from everything that they have become accustomed to in their educational experiences thus far.
Just this morning, I helped the freshly “promoted” eighth graders find their way around Quince Orchard High School during their first of two freshman orientations. During the day, they learned about how they would be spending the next four years and asked questions about how to handle these new experiences, expectations, and opportunities.
As I showed them which stairs to take to get to room 355 and answered their questions about whether or not Freshman Friday really existed, I couldn’t help but think back to my own freshman orientation only two short years ago. I remember being confused, scared, and shy as the then-upperclassmen showed me around the school and answered my questions about high school. After two years of being a high school student, I still haven’t grown completely used to the changes and differences that come with moving from middle to high school. And, I can honestly say that most of what I have experienced in these past two years is far from anything that I expected when I was wandering the school at my own freshman orientation.
I feel that as someone who has recently gone through the flustering transition into high school, it is the least I can do to offer these wide-eyed students some preemptive words of advice about beginning their secondary educations in the most honest manner that I possibly can.
I’ll start off with the things that are true that people tell you, because there are less of them. Most importantly, everything you do in high school matters. From the first day of freshman year to the last day of senior year, every grade, every score, every accomplishment, and every failure will be documented and will carry significance later on. While many students consider this to be a negative aspect of high school, it can just as easily be considered a positive one. If you work hard and are able to succeed, it will not go unnoticed. Secondly, high school is going to be more challenging than middle school in almost every way. Your classes will be harder, your teachers will enforce more rules, your daily schedules will be filled, and it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the same friendships that you left middle school with.
Now we can move on to the “High School Myths” that so many incoming freshmen are quick to believe. First, the obvious ones; there’s no pool on the fourth floor, you won’t get shoved in a locker, and there is no Freshman Friday in which all of the upperclassmen play pranks on you. Aside from these myths about high school, there are also many other things that incoming freshmen should know not to believe.
Many members of the class of 2016 probably think that at some point, everyone in high school ends up caving to peer pressure or being influenced by the wrong types of kids. It is entirely possible, given that you make the right choices not just in how to spend your time, but who to spend your time with, that you can make it through high school without falling to peer pressure. Don’t think that it’s impossible to remain true to your beliefs and values all the way through high school. But also, don’t think that there aren’t people who make poor decisions and who will encourage you to do the same. Every high school will have students of all grades that are all too eager to be exposed to a plethora of dangerous activities. Always be smart, be safe, and be aware of those who will prevent you from doing so.
The last thing that I want to share with students who plan on entering high school next year, and the one thing that I wish someone had told me, is to come in with an open mind. Be ready to learn new things, try new activities, and meet new people. Try your hardest at everything you do because even if it seems irrelevant, it probably isn’t. Get involved because if you don’t then you will miss out on contributing to a greater cause and being a part of something that’s bigger than just you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make new friends because chances are, whatever high school you are going to will have tons of amazing kids that you haven’t even met yet. And don’t let experiences happen to you; make them happen for you.
As someone who remembers being an incoming freshman very clearly, I am credible in saying that with every day, the nerves will fade away a little more and all of your remaining questions about high school will be answered. I, along with my other peers, can’t wait to share the hallways with you in just a few months.