By Maclaine Willett, editor-in-chief

They say high school goes by fast, and it does. So listen. They claim that the friends you keep throughout your high school experience will be ones worth cherishing, and they are. So listen. And they remind you time and time again to make the most of these four years at Nantucket High School, and this is the best piece of advice given to incoming freshmen. So take it.

I wish I had a time machine to go back to my freshman year, to the jitters I felt throughout my whole body on that first day, worried that the big bad high school was going to swallow me whole. And FYI, it does not and will not swallow you whole, so no need to worry about that. Now, I know that we are already halfway through this school year, so the younger students who I am addressing have already spent half of a school year at NHS. But, this does not mean that my advice is unworthy or not valuable anymore. I wish that I had someone reminding me time and time again of the important things to remember in the early stages of high school, because before you know it, you may be doing just as I am, sitting at a desk and writing an extensive guidebook on how to survive high school, while reminiscing all of the times you wish you could relive.

My first point of advice would be to get involved in anything and everything that you think you may be interested in. And please, for your own sake, do not make all of your decisions based on what your friends are doing. Yes, it is perfectly okay and healthy to want to spend as much time as possible with your closest friends, and believe me, I understand that. I have a group of friends that I spend almost every waking moment with. I get it.

But it is important to broaden your social circle and really explore the possible friendships you may be able to build through different activities and experiences in high school. So join that club, even if none of your friends are, because I am sure within the first week, you will be calling the fellow members your friends as well. Even if it isn’t joining a new club, try to connect with as many people as possible, even if it is for a brief moment in the hallway when you extend a compliment to an unfamiliar face or hold open the door to the person running behind you, fleeing from the cold wind outside.

One of your worst fears may include entering a class for the first time and not seeing any of your close friends, only seeing unfamiliar eyes staring you down as you make the life-or-death decision of where to sit. But don’t fear this. Instead, take this as an opportunity to make a new friend and get to know someone different. I can say from experience that this is an opportunity worth taking, considering one of my best friends today was someone I talked to for the first time in gym class freshman year. And now, I feel as though I have known her for decades. So meet new people, be that smiling face in the hallway that is approachable, and be open-minded.

My next piece of advice is one that I wish I had followed more throughout my experience in high school, and that is to value and cherish every moment that you can. It is hard to state an exact strategy to do this. Some people choose to journal and others choose to take pictures and videos to capture moments, and some just choose to acknowledge a certain moment and remember its significance.

Whatever your strategy is, make sure that you don’t take these moments for granted. When you are in the stands at a football game, chanting “Let’s go Whalers” with all of your friends and classmates by your side, remember that feeling of camaraderie and pride. When you are playing in your own sports game, or when you are on the stage for your own musical theater performance, remember the feeling of being on a team or in a cast and cherish the bonds you have made with that group of people. Remember what it feels like to have stands filled with supporting parents and community members who are interested in watching you succeed. When you are getting ready for junior prom with your friends, listening to music, and struggling to pin up that one piece of hair that just won’t seem to cooperate, hold that excitement in your heart and keep it.

Because there will never be another experience that matches that feeling. I will never feel the way I did at another NHS football game again. Sure, I will attend many college football games which may be on a much larger scale, but they won’t amount to the feeling of camaraderie that I felt at our high school football games. Here, you can recognize every face in the stands. And then the following day in first period, you can relay all of the best moments from the game with your new friend sitting next to you in art class. So whatever your memorable experience is, even if it isn’t football, cherish it. It will be gone before you know it.

I think a piece of advice that is not nearly mentioned enough to younger students in high school is to connect with your teachers and appreciate the work that they do for you. A teacher’s impact on a student is not something that should be looked over or past, but in reality, it is skimmed over quite frequently. People struggle with recognizing how much a teacher impacts them until it is too late, until after the graduation caps come off and you can no longer spend hours upon hours with that teacher. So if there is a teacher that impacts you in a way that you appreciate, tell them this. If this makes you uncomfortable, since some don’t love sharing feelings, at least treat them in a way that shows your appreciation.

There is also not enough said when it comes to the importance of connections with teachers. Some of these teachers can be incredible mentors or even just a friend to speak to after the bell rings and you need someone to listen. One of my favorite things about being in a smaller high school and town is that I am able to walk into a particular class and have an easy, comfortable conversation with a specific teacher. Or, in some cases, have a jokingly sarcastic conversation, where the teacher and I both know we are comfortable enough with each other to be able to take our eyes off of the school work for a second and crack a few jokes. These connections and relationships with these teachers make high school so special, and depending on where you go after you graduate and if you attend a larger college, this feeling may not be reciprocated after leaving Nantucket High School. It is a much bigger world out there, (so I’ve heard), so take advantage of the little world we have on this island.

I hope that this advice resonates with some of you reading this because I know I could have used much more guidance in my early years of high school. Fun fact: in freshman year I was too scared to join Veritas because of the fact that my friends weren’t in it. And now look at where I am today; I can’t imagine high school without this club. Take advantage of the time you have here before it is too late. The people in this school and in the community are worth cherishing, and the experiences available to you are worth seizing. So do it. Join that club or team, talk to that person sitting next to you in history, ask your teacher that question, go to that football game and cheer your heart out. Do it before it’s too late, before that final bell rings. 

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