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Open Letter to Freshmen

Dear Freshmen,

There are certain things we all wish we knew before we started high school. You probably think you have it all figured out after this first month or so, but in case you haven’t- and trust us, you haven’t- we have some tips and tricks to make sure you’re not the one the upperclassmen are referring to when they say, “Were we really that annoying?” We aren’t geniuses, but we’ve been around long enough to figure out how to get through the day.

We know it. Teachers know it. That one guy that never talks knows it. If you don’t, you’ve got a big storm coming: there is a right side of the hallway. Walk on that side. Walk at a normal, somewhat fast pace on that side. People behind you may need to walk across the entire school, and you don’t wanna be the one slowing them down. Don’t huddle with your friends in a heaping mass while you’re walking. And please, for the love of all that is good and holy, never stop in the middle of the hallway. Someone always gets hurt. It’s probably going to be you. If you’re really in a pickle and need to get through one of the big, crowded intersections, get behind someone else so they do all the pushing. You will absolutely get in someone’s way at some point, and they’ll get mad. It happens. High schoolers are merciless, and you might get yelled at. But that doesn’t mean it’s personal nor that you’re the worst. It’s happened to everyone.

When you walk in the first day of every trimester, be prepared to be in classes with people you don’t know or aren’t necessarily close with. This is the perfect opportunity to do the unthinkable--make friends! This doesn’t mean you’ll be besties for the resties, but it’s always important to have someone you can pair up with for a group project or send you the notes when you miss a day. Not every class will be a piece of cake. Not every class will be a bundle of fun. A couple of those AP classes are best for someone very serious about an area of study. Or someone who enjoys crying a lot. There will be teachers that you don’t think teach very well or are labeled by others as the worst of the worst, but you learn to deal with it and stay on their good side. Even the worst class with the worst people can be a learning experience if you let yourself learn from it.

Enough with the practical and official advice. We’ll get to the important stuff. Don’t be too cool to participate in Spirit Days or try to ditch pep rallies. People don’t go as all-out for Winter Hoco as they do for the fall, but you should still put a little effort in for both. It'll make things a lot more fun if you have a little school spirit. Bring three things everywhere you go: a pencil, headphones, and paper. There will rarely be a day you won’t wish you had them. Give yourself an extra spot for a class and skip the sweaty days at school by taking P.E. online. If you don’t eat in the Learning Center, you may not realize that that’s where the mysterious smoothies and coffees are coming from. The Cafe to the right is open in the morning and at lunch. When you’ve never been more lost in that required 1800s novel (or you just forgot to read), Shmoop is the place to go. Khan Academy and Crash Course will cover your other subjects when they get too difficult. If a water fountain looks sketchy, it probably is. The nacho line is worth the wait. And perhaps the most pressing, falling up the stairs is more common than you’d think.

But as important as it is to be aware of social cues and little tricks to get you through high school, it’s so much more important to remember what comes before any of that--you and your health, mental and physical. That means sometimes sleeping will be more important than homework. Sometimes, it’s worth it to miss a day of school if you’re sick. Sometimes, if you’re under extreme stress, it’s okay to take a break from your work. No assignment or event is worth losing yourself to that dark place that so many high school students fall victim to. A single bad grade won’t destroy your future. So don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help, whether it’s with school or your personal life. You will always have some teachers, peers, and friends that are there for you and want to help you. See, high school isn’t supposed to be a total nightmare. Soon you’ll get the hang of it, and you’ll be writing your own letters of advice.

Until then,

Some Juniors Hoping to Help

Cecilia Weinkauf and Samantha England

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