by Meghan Miller
An Open Letter to new freshmen (and their families). Probably to every student, honestly.
Dear High School Freshman,
Congratulations. You’ve made it so far! These next four years may be the best ones of your life. And they may not. If they’re not, it’s OK. You have many more to go.
Walking around that new building is daunting. Choosing what to wear is intimidating. Picturing the worst case scenarios can keep you up at night.
But, one thing that I know is that there are so many neat things in the years ahead for you.
If I can give five pieces of advice, here they are.
1. Bring a pencil. And an eraser, and a pen. Being that kid who always has to ask for pencils annoys everyone. It’s not bad to be prepared. Don’t bring two dozen pencils, though, because you will never get them back once everyone realizes you can supply them for class.
2. Learn to ask specific questions. The Biology assignment may be hard, true. When you say “I don’t get it,” the teachers, tutors, parents, even friends don’t know how to help. When you say “The words in chapter 3 confuse me,” we have a place to start. Writing down what you don’t know is as important as remembering what you do know. If your parents want you to do homework at home and monitor it, keep a notebook specifically for questions about what you are learning. You will learn so much by asking questions.
3. Do your homework. Sounds obvious, sure, but it’s one thing that can help the most. You wouldn’t hang out playing video games all week and then think you can star in a basketball game on Friday with no practice, would you? It’s the same with homework. Teachers say they don’t give homework because it’s fun to grade. That is true. We don’t enjoy grading homework. In fact, sometimes it really gets us down. But, it is so important for your learning that we do it. We want to help you identify areas where you struggle and give praise where it is earned.
4. Teachers care. Adults in the building sincerely care about students. Trust me. If they didn’t, they would be working somewhere else. You may not agree with some of the things they are doing, but ask they why they do things certain ways (and don’t always ask that in the middle of class). You may not get an answer, but respect that. If you are struggling, ask for help. If the teacher can’t help with an issue they usually can find someone who can. There are so many resources for students in high school to use in all areas of their lives, let us help. This is a hard age, no doubt about that.
5. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, for others, or for what you believe in. What I have seen from high school students is that there are a lot of strong and brave people walking through those halls. I have seen students stand up for people who are being picked on. They have spoken out for what they believed in. And, I witness this more often than I see people being made fun of. I promise. It’s not always as obvious, but you won’t lose the respect of others for standing up and being brave.
Meghan Miller moved to Champaign for school and never left. She is a special education teacher who spends most of her free time taking photos, drawing or gardening.