Your Guide to the Next Year of High School

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Dear future freshmen:

Welcome to the first year of the rest of your life. Your days here at Pascack Hills will help shape your future in college and career. But, don’t let you stress you out… it can also be one of the best times of your life if you follow some of these tips.   

Make sure to meet new kids from the other town and take time to get to know them. People change in high school and your best friend in middle school may very easily become a different person. You’ll be spending the next four years with new students and you never know who might become your new best friend.

If you need help, start or join a study group—studying history with a friend always helps. If, at first, you’re too shy to ask the teacher for extra help, a reliable study buddy can do the job. You’ll soon realize, though, that teachers are always willing and happy to help.

Join a sport throughout the seasons. It’s a great way to stay fit, have fun, and meet upperclassmen. Whether it’s study tips with a certain teacher, or advice from someone “wiser,” upperclassmen are there to help you out and share a good laugh. Sports coaches are commonly teachers, so sports are a great way to get to know them even better. First impressions are important!

Make sure to get a good night’s sleep. Although it may be fun to stay up until  3 a.m. texting your new friends about the hottest gossip at Hills, it’s extremely important to make sure you are fully rested and ready for the next day. Teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night, so make sure you aren’t working on four hours of sleep for the day.

Couple up with a few friends and join clubs. There’s no better way to meet and greet with teachers around Pascack Hills than joining a club. Swing by Ms. Jane Yeam’s room to sign up for Model United Nations or stop at Mrs. Deborah Horn’s room to join the Debate team. The possibilities at Hills for clubs are endless and include fun options such as working with Mrs. Cindy Wagner to make outfits for the plays and musicals or playing the Stock Market Game with the Business Club.

My best piece of advice is to take your time with high school. Sure, you’ll get lost the first few weeks and won’t be able to find your class, but don’t be scared! There are always students and staff around to help you. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to figure out the R4, R5, and rotating schedules, but don’t stress out over it. You’ll eventually remember and if you don’t, there are always people around. So, take your time; after all, you’re only a froshie for so long!

See you in the halls,

Alexandra Truszkowska

 

Dear future sophomores:

Congratulations! You survived your first year of high school. I mean, aren’t you happy? Only three more years to go… and only two years until you’ll begin looking into colleges…

Anyway, let’s not think about those things just yet. After all, this is the year in high school where you are not necessarily the new ones struggling to figure out where your biology class is but you aren’t the ones nervously waiting to be accepted to colleges. It seems as though many sophomores agree that they feel like the “forgotten class.” Some people say you are not top priority, but I do not think that is necessarily true.

Many people seem to think of high school like this: it’s interesting. There’s your first real prom, your first boyfriend or girlfriend, your first kiss, your first actual job (sorry, those lemonade stands when you were eight years old don’t really count), your first heartbreak (and learning to breathe again after breaking up with the one you love), and a whole ton of other things. The point is, so many “firsts” will happen during your experience as a high school student that you might not even notice how fast time is going by.

Of course, there is also SATs, ACTs, drama and stress. So, what is the best way to fight against the stress and fears? Take every day one step at a time, be patient and plan accordingly. Learning how to adjust to change and being okay with it will make your remaining years in the Cowboy hallways much easier. After all, the test that is stressing you out is just one test and it will not make or break your GPA or your chance of getting into college.

Many students here at Pascack Hills are obsessive with their grades. I mean, it makes sense considering the amount of times we have been told how important grades are. In reality, though, there is so much more to life than those grades on Genesis.

Do not miss your teenage years isolating yourself the three weeks before a test to study as though you were cramming it into a one-nighter.

Learn to care for yourself both physically and mentally. If you are coughing, sneezing, and you have a fever of 101 degrees, please take the day off of school to rest. Your health always comes first.

Learn that it is okay to not be friends with the ones that seem to have it all together. Everyone is different, and everyone is meant to experience life a different way. Just because those other people seem to have everything going for them does not mean that they do not have something hard to deal with underneath the surface.

Learn that it is okay to be just who you are. You do not need to change yourself to be better. You do not need to lose weight, change how you look, or act differently than you naturally would. If someone actually likes you, they will like you for who you are.

Those likes on Instagram or views on Snapchat? Those don’t matter either. I know it is hard to believe, but the amount of likes you get does not go hand-in-hand with your value or worth.

Learn to love the outdoors and treasure your time with your friends and family. Do something you love. It might be a sport, yoga, writing or even becoming more in touch with who you are as a person. Once senior year hits, you will need to move forward in a lot more ways than just having a license.

High school can be filled with tears, stress, smiles, and an overall complete fascination of the world around you. Cherish it, because you don’t know exactly when that feeling will go away.

If you ever need anything, I’m here.

Former Sophomore,

Allison Murphy

 

Dear future juniors:

You’re probably going to walk into school next year with shaky knees and sweaty palms. It’s junior year, and you’ve heard all the rumors. “Junior year is the hardest year.” “Junior year is nothing but panic attacks between SATs.” “This is the year that really counts.” “You’re going to have to work harder than ever before.” “If you don’t do well this year, you won’t get into college.” “This is the last year you have to show colleges you’re serious.” “It’s time to buckle down.”

Take a deep breath, it’s not as bad as they say and we all survive it anyway.

Here are some rules:

  1. Balance. Don’t spread yourself thin. There are a lot of important aspects in your life and you need to make time for all of them. You need time for homework and studying and extracurricular activities, but you also need time to go out with your friends, hang out with your boyfriend/girlfriend, spend time with your family and just take some time for yourself. Don’t put all your time into school and make yourself and everyone around you miserable. Don’t put all your time into relationships and let your grades suffer.
  2. SAT/ACT. Take them all and as many times as you can. Don’t limit yourself. The tests are different and people will react to them differently so take them both. See how you do and which is better for you. You might get a terrible score on the SAT and then get an amazing score on your ACT or vice versa. Take each test more than once. You will most likely improve your score with each test you take.
  3. College. This is a tough one. Some kids know where they want to go and what they want to study by fifth grade. Others aren’t the same way. That’s okay. If you’re someone who isn’t quite sure of where you want to go to college here’s what to do:
    1. First, don’t stress, you’ll figure it out.
    2. Think about what you want or like to do and look for schools with good programs for that major.
    3. “B” is much easier said than done. If you don’t know what you want to do (most of us don’t) decide on what environment you want to be in. If you know you want to be in a big city, look at good schools in Chicago, New York City and Boston. If you want a small school, use that to narrow your search.
    4. Visit schools! A school might sound great in theory but when you get there you might hate it. It’s better to figure out whether or not a college is a good fit early on.
    5. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking a year off (check out this article on gap years for more info) or going to community college for a few years while you figure things out (and save money!).
    6. Transferring is an option. Don’t go to college with the intention of transferring, but always keep it in mind; you’re not trapped anywhere.
    7. Also remember that you don’t need to go to an Ivy to get far in life so don’t worry about the name of your future college, worry more about where you’re most likely to thrive.
  4. Talk to your teachers. Talk to your guidance counselors, your parents and your friends. They’re here to help you; you’re not alone in this.
  5. Remember that it’s not really that bad. You’ll be stressed, but you’ve been stressed for the past two years anyway. You’ll have to work hard, but what’s new? You will be fine; it’s not the horror story everyone tells. Be smart and be safe.  

Sincerely, someone who got through junior year and didn’t even cry that much,

Sophie Miller

 

Dear future seniors:

June 20 is a day that many seniors anticipate for the whole year. This day bittersweet to most, is an important part of high school. On that day, however, current juniors will become seniors and you, too, will start awaiting your own graduation day. However, don’t rush through any of it.

It’s human instinct to wish time away, but if you keep wishing time, it will be gone before you know it and you’ll wish you could get it back. While college is known to be the “best four years of your life,” every moment of your life builds upon each other. If you don’t build relationships or memories throughout your life now it could feel empty. Cherish the small moments; these are what will impact your life most.

Trust me, it will start to hit you when you start saying, “This is my last time….”

While SAT, ACT, AP classes, college applications and life always seems to be weighing you down, that is the time to close your eyes and take a deep breath. You will get through it all; I promise. Yes, having the perfect SAT score and ACT score might seem like the end-all-be-all, but it’s not. The path you created throughout your time in high school with ripple over to your applications and your studies.

Although, it is essential to excel in high school to better your chances of getting accepted to your dream college, it is also important to take things slow and take nothing for granted. Senior year is a time to go to lunch with old and new friends, have sleepovers and watch movies, and have some fun—whatever that may entail. Once you start packing for college it will all start to fade away. Those small moments that seemed like just another boring event will turn into the things you will miss the most.

Also, appreciate the home-cooked meals, family nights watching TV and spontaneous trips with close ones. You will wish you spent more time with your family, instead of out partying or constantly hanging with your friends. Create a balance. Carve out time to spend with all the important people in your life. Remember, they are the ones that raised you, fed you and took care of you for 18 years and now you are leaving them. This is ten times more difficult for them than you. Their lives are changing drastically; recognize that and stay grateful for all they have done and continue to do.

Being a part of Pascack Hills is a humbling and incredible experience. The people and teachers you meet here will help you become the person you strive to be. So slow down, take a step back. Although it might sound cliché, live in the moment. Look forward to coming events, but always live in the present. Congrats Class of 2017 on making it to senior year. It will be a year you never forget!

Sincerely,

Jordyn Ramsey

 

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