An Open Letter to Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors

As IB and AP testing draws to a close while the quad is littered with Prom and Grad Nite fliers, it seems as if suddenly, out of nowhere, senior year is ending. As we all post about our future colleges and search for roommates, fantasize about summer vacations, or cry in advance about insane summer job schedules, one thing is certain: high school already feels like it’s in the past. It is a memory, something we look back at as if it was this huge, scary thing that has passed into something bigger and scarier (and more exciting): the future. Although we go through the motions in classes and continue to show up day in and day out, it is painstakingly obvious that the school now belongs to the classes below us, and that we are just present legends.

Before I say goodbye to high school and say hello to the rest of the world, I feel as if it is my duty to impart some of my learned wisdom onto students who will once again enter the gates of NPHS next year. So here is my list of “Sam’s Rules to Follow in Order to Make the Most Out of High School”:

  1. Bring snacks. You will never go wrong with having snacks, or extra snacks, or multiple extra snacks for friends. This is probably the best piece of advice on this list, and I advise you to seriously consider snacks.
  2. Also, bring lunch and eat breakfast before school, or at least during your first class. If you’re hungry, you won’t be able to fully invest yourself in your work, and you’ll feel lost and upset.
  3. Don’t join 500 clubs that don’t mean anything to you. Find extracurriculars that you care about, invest yourself in them fully, and the results will be astounding. Colleges may like to see a well-rounded individual, but you can still be well-rounded without forcing yourself to go to a, b, c and d clubs every week rather than joining something that you’re truly interested in. (They like that even better.)
  4. Apply to colleges early. Do a ton of research junior year and the summer before senior year, and start pounding out those applications as soon as you can.
  5. Learn how to handle your money and finances. If you can, get a job. If you can’t, at least get a bank account with a clear idea of how it works. Tip: Take financial algebra.
  6. Don’t waste too much time crying over one D on a paper or test. Yes, I know the first time is the hardest, but three years from now, it will be the opposite of important.
  7. But, don’t make a habit of getting bad grades after becoming desensitized to them. That just never works out in your favor.
  8. Be honest with people in the kindest way possible. These could be two separate items, under being honest or being kind, but the two go together extremely well. Tell people how you feel, be truthful about your opinions, and stand up for yourself.
  9. Don’t stay in friendships or relationships that you know aren’t healthy for you.
  10. Be open to trying new things and meeting new people. Sometimes you just have to jump in.
  11. Always be nice to teachers, administrators, office workers and basically everyone employed at the school. Their jobs are difficult and stressful, and just smiling and saying hi or striking up a conversation makes everyone happier.
  12. Always, always tell your teacher “thank you” after a class is over.
  13. Spark noting the books might work, but just read them. Your teacher knows.
  14. It’s fun to date people, or have long term relationships, but remember your priorities and don’t let it take over your life. Make sure you still have other friends.
  15. Find one thing in your high school career to make a huge impact in, no matter how difficult it might be. People aren’t remembered for just going with the flow.
  16. Always show up to performances in the PAC at least 10-15 minutes early, otherwise risk being that uncomfortable person who tries to find a seat while the show is starting. Also, it’s a great time to socialize.
  17. Saving projects for the last night or even the last few days might seem tempting (because it really is) but try to work on everything over time rather than at the last minute. (I should probably take my own advice.)
  18. If you choose to have sex, choose to have safe sex. If you choose to use illegal substances, use them in the most careful way possible. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.
  19. Read the Prowler, obviously.
  20. The idea of a “high school experience” is a sort of myth, because stereotypes of what high school has to be like are long gone for complex individuals such as ourselves. So if you want to go to football games and dances, go for it, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. Just make sure you have moments that you can cultivate into your own, unique high school experience, whether it’s hiking with your best friends at 5 in the morning or playing hide and seek during a speech and debate tournament. Make this school your own.

Good luck on everything coming your way the next few years. It’s cliche, but the end really does come fast, so enjoy everything and don’t waste time wishing you were doing things you’re not doing. Just go out and do them. As I always say…

Just be you.

Much love,

Sam

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