By: Kayla Menkes
Dear Freshman Kayla,
Welcome to High School!! I know you’ve heard so much about this place, but I’m here to confirm that you are about to embark on four of the scariest, most fun, most challenging, and most rewarding years of your life. Sometimes it sucks not having an older sibling to give you details about teachers, tips to memorize the layout of the school, or which clubs to join. With that being said, I thought it would be best if I gave you some advice on a how to make the most out of your high school experience.
Classes: Please do not get caught up in the difference between Honors, Regents, or AP classes. I am telling you right now that there are times you are going to wonder why you ever took that Honors Biology class, but there will also be times where you wonder why you didn’t take Honors Social Studies. There will be times when your regents classes stress you out more than your honors classes, and there will be times where your honors classes stress you out more than your regents classes. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and realize that school work is not everything. Try to not let all of your work get to your head, and just take it one class at a time. Yes, of course it is important to get good grades, but it is also important to not overstudy. No one is going to remember the time you got a 54 on the Endocrine System Quiz (hate to break it to you this way, but don’t worry, Mrs. Vogelsang drops one quiz). While your classes should be a priority, they should not be taking over your whole life. Go spend some of your allotted study time getting frozen yogurt with your brothers. You’ll have a much easier time remembering your frequent trips to Catch the Wave than your Geometry quarter grade.
Teachers: Some of the best people you are going to meet throughout your high school career are your teachers. While teachers may sometimes feel like the enemy, your teachers always have your best interest in mind. You are so lucky you have Ms. Keller for first period English. Even though the 7:19 am start time is a rough adjustment, she will definitely make it so you are wide awake for the rest of the day. The same goes for Mrs. Vogelsang. You’re going to LOVE biology. So much so that (after much deliberation) you’re going to end up taking AP Bio. You’ll be so happy you did because you’ll have Mrs. Vogelsang again, and she really will brighten up each day. While you loved chorus in middle school, it doesn’t even compare to chorus in high school. Doc will become like a second mom to you. Never take her for granted because she is one of the kindest, most understanding people you will meet. I know you don’t love math right now, but you will meet Mr. Simon who will make Algebra II your favorite class. He’s the funniest teacher you’ll have. Chemistry is one of the hardest classes you will take, but Mrs. Schmitt will care about you so much that she will do everything in her power to make you understand the material as best as you can. You’ll even get an award for most improved chemistry student! Physics is also one of the harder classes you’ll be taking during your four years here. Mrs. Dugan makes the class so enjoyable, and you will become super close with her. It’s gonna be hard when she goes on maternity leave, so don’t forget to make endless visits during your senior year. You’ll finally get to take AP Psychology with Mr. Page during your senior year. He will make you fall in love with the class and make going to school everyday something to look forward to during your senior year. You’ll actually end up majoring in Psychology because of how much you love the class. All of your teachers have helped you in unparalleled ways, so never forget to say thank you after leaving a class and never take their hard work for granted.
Clubs: One of the most overwhelming (and amazing) aspects of high school is the insane amount of extracurricular activities that are offered. My biggest piece of advice: do not join a club just because it looks good for college. Join a club because you ENJOY it. One of the clubs that you will join is Speech and Debate. The Speech team will be where you spend most of your after school hours and where you will feel the most pressure. It is hard work. It is difficult. It is time consuming. But it is worth it. As nerve wracking and lengthy as the tournaments may be, the skills you learn by preparing and competing will carry you through high school and through life. You will also be much more involved in the music wing clubs than you think. DO THE SPRING MUSICAL!! I did not audition until I was a junior, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. It will be the best decision you make. You will meet the most amazing people, learn the most valuable lessons, and do what you love the most. Another club you should join freshman year is Newspaper Club. You will become an exponentially better writer, and you will get to work with two of the kindest and hardest working teachers in the school. While all of the clubs the school pushes on you may seem like a lot, I know you will find your way because your passion will lead you to doing the activities you truly enjoy.
Friends: I’m sure you’ve heard that “all of your friends change once you get to high school.” This may be true in part, but you are so lucky to have the majority of your middle school friends stick by your side. You will definitely find your true friends and your “group” of people who make you the happiest. There will be some people that you don’t want to be best friends with, but it is important that you are always nice to them. Causing drama is just a waste of energy so surround yourself with people you love, and you will be just fine. While you have your group of friends who you were close with in middle school, you will also be meeting tons of new people. There’s going to be a lot of people in your classes who you have never seen before or at least have never have had a class with before. You’re going to be really glad that you asked them for help with classwork or asked them to partner up because those may become some of your closest friends. You might be surprised, but some of the kids that you never spoke to in chorus are going to become some of your best friends. In high school, and in life, never place judgment on a person, and always keep an open mind when meeting them. You will be especially grateful when you step out of your “friend group” and branch out to who will become your other best friends.
High School will go faster than you think. Enjoy every second of it (even those moments in the non air conditioned classrooms during the late spring months). Learn to appreciate your friends and your teachers because they are the people who guide you the most. Spend time with your family because before you know it you’ll be living with your roommate in a random town in upstate New York (spoiler: you’re going to end up at Binghamton). If you ever feel like the vicious cycle of homework and school will never end just remember this: everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
Your Senior Self