It’s that time again when most stores are having huge clothing sales and Office Max and Staples are stocking up for the next big event: school. Now there is a lot of talk at the high schools about the newbies, a.k.a. the new freshmen, that are coming in. It’s a big change going from a small school where everybody knows basically everybody to a huge school where you probably won’t even know a quarter of your classmates. I remember how scared I was going into freshman year, and I know that you’re probably scared, too, even if you don’t want to admit it. But, don’t worry; once you get the hang of it, high school will be fun. Now let me get one thing out of the way: Yes, it is true the upperclassmen won’t like you at first, and they may even call you stupid freshmen. Mean, I know, but most upperclassmen do call incoming freshmen names like that. Lucky for you, I managed to pull together a quick “do’s and don’ts” guide for you so you can get on their good side and out of their way. Take it from a junior in high school: Freshman year is difficult without some help.
DO GET A MAP OF YOUR SCHOOL
Seems silly, right? But do you seriously want to walk into the wrong room on the first day? Go to your school’s website and search for a map. If you can’t find it, try Google. Each semester, take your schedule and highlight your route from the morning at your locker to your first hour to the rest of your classes to lunch to the end of the day. Mark your classrooms with a star for the ones you know you can stop at your locker for afterwards, and put a square for the ones you can’t. It will help on the first day to have it with you, and then about the third to fifth day you won’t need it and will have found shortcuts to class.
DO KNOW YOUR LOCKER NUMBER AND COMBINATION
Come on what is it? 17..no..34…no? Does this sound like you trying to get your locker open until you realize it’s not yours? Embarrassing, right? I have an easy solution. Put it to a little saying with your locker number first and the combination following. For example, 17o cats went on a 24 mile hike and caught 2 mice and 40 birds. Write the saying down on a slip of paper or put it in your phone, and no one will know. This will also help save time in-between classes if you do have to stop at your locker. That way you don’t have to rush getting your books in and out of your locker, causing you to elbow your neighbor — theoretically, of course, but it can and has happened.
DO GET A PRINTED VERSION OF YOUR SCHEDULE
This is nice to tape in your assignment notebook, on your locker door, or in your take home folder; then you can always have it to look at. That way, if you forget what your next class is, you can double check instead of just guessing and ending up in the wrong classroom. I know I have done that to the point that I could feel the awkwardness in the room. It is also helpful on registration day — or before the beginning of each semester if your classes change — to walk through your schedule so you have a general idea of where you are going.
DO NOT STOP WALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAYS
You see your best friend and stop to chat in the dead middle of the hallway to talk, and suddenly you are playing “bumper people” with the teens around you. To avoid students from getting angry with you for starting a traffic jam, DO find a safe spot to stop and talk — such as by your locker or by the bubbler, or water fountain depending on where you live. Even better, wait till lunch when you can sit and talk instead of playing bumper people, which is not fun at all.
DO NOT FORGET TO PACK A LUNCH
It is the last class before lunch, and all you can do is think about that lunch you packed yourself. The bell rings, and off you go to your locker. Once you get there, you open your locker, slide your backpack in, and reach for your lunch. But it’s not there. OOPS! If you aren’t buying lunch at school, then make sure you put together your lunch the night before, storing your cold items like your cheese and ham sandwich, vegetables, and dips in the refrigerator. It saves time in the morning for you to eat a decent breakfast, too. Make sure you put the lunch bag by your morning place setting so you don’t forget it.
DO JOIN A CLUB OR SPORT
“Join a club; you can make a ton of new friends!” says your mom or dad. Well, the other reason to join a few clubs or some sports is to put it on your college application. While what your mom or dad says is true, the more you have to put on your college application, the better chance you have to get into the college of your choice. Just go to the informational meeting and check it out first. The Forensics Team seems weird, the marching band seems a little too sharp, the coach for your favorite sport seems scary, or the girls on the cheer squad seem odd, but who knows, they might actually be really fun. Like my friend L. Wieland says, “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
DO ASK FOR HELP
If the pace of your class is too fast or too slow, or if you’re simply not understanding something — believe it or not — the teachers will help you. The trick is to ask for help. Yes, it means approaching them and talking to them after class or when they give you work-time in class. I don’t recommend emailing them — unless they say that is the best way to get a hold of them — because they may not see it, or by the time they do, the lesson may have already passed. They are not scary or intimidating. They want to help you pass their lessons just as much as you want to get school over with.
DO MEET NEW PEOPLE
Hey, freshman, guess what? You are not the only person in the world who is going into their first day of high school. Chances are that you will find many kids who feel the same way you do and don’t know what to do — like the girl sitting in the back of the classroom or the boy goofing off because he doesn’t know what else to do. I recommend just being nice to everyone; you may never know if you will end up being friends for life or if you’ll need their help down the road. It makes life easier if you make at least one friend in each class, and it is even cool to make friends with your old ones. They might even bring other friends into the group from their classes! A song I remember from when I was little goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” This thought helped me remember that it is okay to make new friends while still having the same friends you have known since kindergarten.