A senior letter to young freshmen

An FLC Senior (On right) debunking to a freshman (On left) their worries and stereotypes they hear about high school.
An FLC Senior (On right) debunking to a freshman (On left) their worries and stereotypes they hear about high school.
Quinton Washington

A new year has just begun, and new freshmen have entered FLC. During an FLC student’s freshman year, they are introduced to a whole new environment. Things like a diverse group of students, and being expected to understand and follow the set rules put in place. This new chapter of life is quite an overload and can lead to stress or uncertainty. The message that is often portrayed in the media is that high school is going to be the last and most exciting years of your childhood, and you’re going to be put in these cliche boxes of jocks or nerds. The extreme, vivid, and stereotypical version of high school is not the reality in FLC.  And who is better to reassure and guide you than a student who has been at FLC for almost 4 years?

 

Tarae Coleman is an art major and was one of the freshmen who were dealt a bad hand when their high school experience started right around when COVID-19 first broke the surface. During the outbreak, students were required to do virtual instead. Despite this, Coleman still made the most of his years at FLC. Here are his first impressions of high school as a freshman, and initial worries centering it.

 

“Initially, I felt uneasy when approaching virtual/online school, but I ended up feeling the hospitality of my teachers, for the most part. I believe they worked hard enough to provide me with good classes even if they were through a screen. Personally, I was worried about the inferiority complex that was often portrayed in the media, specifically towards underclassmen. Thankfully, in real life, that’s not a problem because people are mainly focused on graduating and whatnot.”

 

Despite his initial negatives, Coleman found comfort in realizing that his assumptions were not true at all! Keeping your focus on your academics, high school experiences, and strong rapport with teachers are many of the more important factors that are often ignored in the media. It is easy to dramatize what might happen due to the unknown, but as you can see, Coleman was able to find many positives in FLC.

 

“My positive experiences in this school could’ve been meeting the people I hold/held close. It was something that made me realize that there’s space to evolve and made me uncover a lot about myself I might’ve kept brewing in my brain. Even with the people I don’t talk to anymore, they, in a way, encouraged me to work on myself because this time in my life ,or anyone’s life, shouldn’t be spent holding grudges or repeating history. I think it’s a huge positive for me and I’m grateful for that. Something else that was good for me was meeting the teachers I felt were the most supportive/open-minded. Although I wasn’t good at finishing work when I should, they made me want to get through the writer’s block, art block, and the obstacles preventing me from doing what I had to do. Honestly, most of my teachers changed my perspective on teachers as a whole because I can see that some of them genuinely enjoy what they do, which in turn, restored my respect for them. ”

 

Although high school may seem trivial, the vital social skills you gain can also become your highlight. Having friends and close teacher allies can be very heartwarming, but also useful when advocating for yourself and your classmates. As well as a memo for good memories to take with you once you do graduate. Being able to balance a social life and work at the same time is the key to success, high school is just a preview of that. Whether your social group is big or small does not matter, as long as they are there to support and help you is key! But you don’t know these things as a freshman, it is only learned through experience. But to ease the burn a little, Coleman can give you some of the advice they wished they knew when they were a freshman.

 

“I wish I knew just how important keeping up on your work is because when you’re in a deep slump, you’re not gonna wanna turn anything in, or have the energy to. If you keep up with your assignments from the 9th and onwards, you can build up a tolerance that might prevent you from dipping completely ,like I did. It can definitely be seen as a ‘skill issue’, but it makes some sense. Something else I wish I knew was the unforeseen removal of teachers and how to manage my work because of it. You can’t stay completely reliant on the schedule teachers provide because they could leave for some reason. Additionally, the work should be treated the same because, at that point, the class is an easy A. The work is probably easier, too. Also, don’t doubt your work too much because that can definitely prevent you from getting into Honors and AP classes. It’ll affect how you approach classwork and projects in the future. Like, especially if your teachers are telling you that your work is good! Just submit whatever you have to submit because there’s a chance you can get into a certain class.

Lastly, when it comes to social connections, just don’t mold yourself around others, but still make an attempt to connect with people. Of course, anything can happen with people, so try to make sure you can carry yourself without them. Still, friends can obviously help class time go by faster, or if getting help from the teacher is too difficult, you can count on them. Oh—and don’t spend class time doing who knows what because it’ll be harder to maintain your grade in those main classes.”

 

Next up is Cameron Rodriguez, who is also an art major, who was previously working on an art piece before stepping aside for an interview. They also had certain misconceptions about high school, but later found them to be false!

Asking the same questions previously stated to Coleman, Rodriguez has a very similar story of their first time entering FLC, and the overplayed nature of media placed on high school to their perception. 

 

“When I was a freshman, I was both super excited and exceptionally nervous. I would look up at my upperclassmen and admire their maturity and endurance for being stuck in such a place portrayed in the media as a warzone. I was worried that I didn’t have the mental capacity or strength to not only get harder classes, but also having to meet new people and basically be in an entirely new environment from what I was used to and comfortable in. It was really scary. I’ve met some amazing people at FLC, and those very people were one of the biggest reasons for me to keep going. The school is full of such creative and diverse people, and it’s not only in the classes you learn something new. There are also some amazing opportunities you get at FLC. There’s a wide range of majors to choose from, clubs, sports, and trips; all of which I will miss deeply. There’s never a dull day at FLC!”

 

A new environment can be confusing, overwhelming, and daunting all in the same breath, but being able to get over the hurdle is the biggest challenge that one may face in the first few days, maybe even weeks. Finding an environment that makes you comfortable and safe could come in many forms, including clubs, as stated by Rodriguez. Little things like interest and hobbies can make it easier for others to connect with classmates, even just going to the library for lunch can help you find a possible friend. Being open to new opportunities and chances can be a lot, especially for a freshman in a new environment, making it very easy to miss out on fun events and opportunities provided. Rodrigeuz can tell you firsthand how much they wish they knew as a freshman.

 

“Personally, I wish I knew how to socialize when I was a freshman. I eventually made friends, but some people may not be as lucky as me to be walked up to. If no one talked to me first, I wouldn’t have made any friends at school. I get that it’s scary and awkward to just walk up to someone you’ve never met, but everyone’s in the same boat as a freshman! Almost everyone will be starting fresh socially so there’s no reason to be scared, just go for it! Making friends is the easy part, but managing is a little harder. As soon as I got my little friend group, I wanted to hang out with them every day. But you have to find a balance between friends and your school work. Booorriinngg, yeah, yeah. Trust me, when those F’s start rolling in, it can be hard to get them back up again. So figure out how to maintain both your school and social life, but if it is a choice of ‘go hangout’ or ‘do your homework that’s due tomorrow’, … do that homework bro. Keep up, don’t fall behind, and you’ll be good.”

As you can see, despite your worst-case scenarios jogging around in your mind about possibly being shoved into a locker by your bully can now be put to rest! High school is truly about finding yourself, figuring out your future goal and purpose, and preparing for adulthood and college. And most importantly, enjoy your last four years of childhood free of responsibility and burden! FLC is a welcoming community filled with bright and wonderful staff, teachers, and student peers who are willing to communicate with you and help. Whether it’s a club, favorite teacher, or classmate that makes you feel the most comfortable, then utilize it. Next time you see a fellow shy freshman, a simple hi can go a long way. Don’t be shy!

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