Dear Freshmen

From friendships to tryouts, it’s all new. To make it work, remember to laugh, listen, learn and breathe. And — don’t rush.


BP Photo by Honor Fuchs

NEW HEIGHTS: Freshmen, here on the roof the first week of school, should remember to be themselves and take their time

By Aidel Townsley, Staff Writer

The ’16-’17  Shalhevet school year has brought 13 new hires, a new bell schedule, and one of the biggest freshman classes in Shalhevet’s history, at 67 kids. That’s external change, which reminds us of internal change.  Why does high school seem to change students so drastically, and what would those of us who are older tell those less experienced?

For those starting one of the most transformative, memorable, and intimidating parts of your life, here are some things to think about, from a junior and a friend.

Change;  Everybody is growing. Nobody, not in life and certainly not in high school, has stagnated. Growth is not only constant but inevitable, and while those older than you might know how to navigate the halls of Shalhevet, there are many things that would make them flounder. On that end, everyone gets nervous on the first day of school, at tryouts, and speaking in Town Hall. If you joke about your nerves you will find those around you agreeing, and this solidarity of anxiety will help everyone feel more at ease.

Learn.  Allow yourself the chance to learn, and understand that you are not responsible to know everything from the get-go. This means it is your duty to be open-minded and listen, but do not feel obligated to already know what you haven’t been taught. Knowledge comes with time. There is no need to idolize people who are eloquent speakers or who have traits you admire.

On the other side of this coin is humility. Being proud of who you are does not mean you should be cocky. Even though your experiences are valid, show respect to those who have done what you haven’t and might know more than you do. Make sure to ask questions, listen, and don’t be afraid to apologize when you make a mistake.

Speak. You are in high school, you do not need a spokesperson. Sometimes facing your fears and taking responsibility for your actions is the quickest way to get your needs met and be respected. If you have a problem with someone, talk to them, and if that doesn’t go well, talk to the person above them. Only involve your parents when you are in over your head for you do not need to respect someone as an authority if they will not respect you as a person.

Make sure to take preventative measures, like sending emails if you know you will be tardy or miss a class. Always write professional emails to ensure that you will be proud of what you put your name on.

Friend (the verb).  Although there will always be jerks in life, most upperclassman would love to start a friendship with you, especially if you strike up a conversation. Ask someone their name or what interests they have, and they will appreciate you taking the first step. Also, get to know the Shalhevet staff. Although they might be intimidating, they are great people who are using their time and lives to try to make your life the best it can be. Get to know them, they can really help you out, and are people you want on your team.

Own. Have a unique style, and own who you are. If style is not your thing then don’t sweat it, but if you find yourself not expressing yourself due to a conceived social pressure, don’t. It will make you stand out as a person who knows who you are, an individual, and if you like a trend, feel free to make it your own. On the same note, take compliments with grace, no need to protest or put yourself down, with phrases like “Oh this old thing,” or “ Are you sure it’s not unflattering?”  Have confidence in your decisions  — they’re yours, and so they’re you.

Honor.  Remember, there is no need to scream in the hallways — that really disrupts the environment of those around you. Also, if you have a question, it is courteous to ask someone who you think would know, either a student or someone from administration, before posting it on Schoology.

Breathe.  Don’t rush your life because you think you are supposed to be doing certain things by certain deadlines. Trying to fill your life with experiences that you think will make you cool or feel fulfilled will only make you miserable in the end. Make sure that whatever you are doing, you are putting thought into it, being safe, and having fun.

Loyalty is the cornerstone of a good relationship, along with trust, an ability to listen, and an ability to have a good time.  True friends will only ever try to influence you for the better and will make sure you are comfortable and safe. Surround yourself with those who uplift you and whom you uplift.

Balance.  Balance your life. Unless your life goal is to work until the day you die, balancing your schedule is key. Make sure to put time in for what is important — your family, your friends, your education and your co-curriculars, and above all, yourself. Using a planner can really help you find this balance, get your goals done, and not burn out. If you hate organization, ask someone who enjoys planning and work with him or her to prioritize and manage your schedule.

A little anxiety is good for the brain, it motivates you, but nothing that happens in school is important enough to create panic, exhaustion or tears. Your life and priorities can change in an instant and creating a fear about something that cannot cause you major harm will bring much more negativity to your life than an A can bring good. Try to be ready to love yourself if you fail and you will be proud of yourself no matter what.

Explore.  Pursue your interests. Often, you know what you like, and when you take those pathways you will find joy in them instead of monotony. If you don’t know what you’re interested in, try things out. They might surprise you.

Negative attention is not worth it. It’s all in the name: Negative.

Serve.  Try making community service a part of your life. Nothing is better than making a positive difference, and you will feel more confident in your ability to make a change and good choices.

CHANGE.  Remember, treat others the way you would want to be treated, be open to new ideas and honest to those around you. Feel proud of who you are and know you will change, grow, fall, and get up so many times in your life.  Including now.

This is a fresh start. Seize it.