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Reflections: Four Years of High School

Here I am. If anyone walks into the classroom, they’d see a girl on her break from teaching tennis. Pure quiet would fill their ears interrupted only by the low hum of a heater and the occasional chirping of birds traveling south for winter. However, upon stepping into the shoes of that freckled, brown-haired girl they’d realize the room is anything but quiet. It is Grand Central during rush hour with hundreds of people conversing at once.

My mind races with countless thoughts, mostly concerning the fact that I am about to start prepping for finals and finish my first semester of college. I make millions of lists of what to do, pack, and study before I go home for the holiday break. As I pummel forward in my college career, something inside forces me to take a look at the four years that just passed.

While contemplating what to share about my high school experience, I realize that the most helpful may be what I did to make my time fulfilling and prosperous. I realize that I am about to offer suggestions to help with a person’s high school career which is a task that I do not take lightly. These four years include many of the most crucial moments in a person's life. It is often during high school that people frame their identities, develop a basis for what they aspire to pursue in the future, and decide what matters most. I’d like to share a tad about myself so you know where my suggestions are coming from.

A key method to understanding a person can be learning how they fill their time. Some students overfill their time with honor societies, clubs, sports teams, jobs, and AP classes. I am no exception. Therefore an even better method is to learn which tasks a person prioritizes. For me, in no particular order, this would include the Science Research program, my varsity tennis and lacrosse teams, school work, teaching tennis, friends, and the SADD and CODA (Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness) clubs.

My first suggestion is to get ahead on assignments and get work done first. I understand that this is a difficult task, especially for student-athletes like myself. I would often get home late from practice or games, eat dinner, and then do homework at night. I found it helpful to find cracks in my schedule during the day when I could get a head start on assignments. During lunch, free periods, or if I finished work early in class, I’d start tasks. It is also helpful to begin homework or textbook readings over the weekend to get ahead. If future assignments are not available, you can ask your teacher what you’re doing in class the following week and explain your attempt to get ahead because of a busy schedule. It is also important to set boundaries and complete tasks before deciding to spend time with friends. If you wait until the last minute to do an assignment, and an exciting event comes up that night, it would be sad to miss out on a fun experience to do work that you’ve known about for some time.

My second piece of advice is to connect with your teachers. Throughout high school, I formed extremely close bonds with my teachers by participating in class and attending extra help sessions. High school teachers may seem scary, but they became teachers because they genuinely want the best for their students. I found that by putting effort into my relationship with teachers, I felt more comfortable in class and performed better.

The next tip I have is one I learned during Covid lockdown: make time for yourself. Whether that’s achieved by working out, reading, watching television, coloring, or anything else, find an activity that you enjoy doing alone and make space for it. This can help clear your thoughts, especially after a busy day surrounded by people.

As important as it is to be alone, it is equally important to put effort into maintaining close relationships. Especially during my junior year and the first semester of senior year- two parts of my high school career that I found the most challenging- I loved being with friends because we were all experiencing the same stressors. Find people who inspire the best version of you and who you look up to. You are who you surround yourself with.

Finally, put yourself out there and try new things. You never know what you may like. Engage in activities because you enjoy them, not because they “look good”. Most importantly, know that you are still learning and that making mistakes is completely okay as long as you learn from them. Be sure to breathe and make the most out of your time. I know I did! I hope that you have an amazing high school experience.

Stay connected with us @saddnation and share your updates on the high school journey, in and outside of SADD!

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