Dear Freshman

Here is some advice for those about to start high school.

Dear Freshman,

So, there’s a lot I could tell you about high school. I could tell you about all the wonderful things I learned and all the amazing friends I made. I could tell you about the fun trips we took during school, my supportive teachers, all the opportunities I have been given and so on. But let’s face it—high school is hard. And if there’s anyone who tells you they went through all of high school without facing any road bumps, then I’d love to go to their fairytale of a school, because it sounds magical.

Let’s go back to that glorious time of being an eighth grader, the leader of the school, the creme de la creme of middle school. School was practically a joke by the time we were getting ready to graduate, my classmates and I simply enjoyed the glory of finally finishing middle school. I had a lot of friends and we were always laughing. They told me I was the loud one in the group, the one who wouldn’t stop talking, and frankly, I loved that title.

Then, boom. It was the beginning of ninth grade. A new era. No more waltzing into school with Dunkin’ drinks. No more planning fun activities instead of being in class. No more fooling around. And worst of all, no more running the school. No, scratch that. No more even knowing everyone in school.

I recall my first day of freshman year like it was yesterday. It was a nice September day and as I walked into this new school with my glasses, braces, H&M shirt and, truthfully, the flashiest leather jacket I’ve ever had, I felt inferior. No time to dwell on the past. I have to make an impression, I thought to myself.

Bella (front) with her friends in high school. Photo courtesy of Bella Rudoy

As I went to my first class and sat down, I realized I was alone. I was the only kid from a small town nobody knew, as the majority of the class had been together previously in middle school. And, unfortunately, I was still wearing that jacket—a bright blue leather jacket with silver zippers, which attracted way more attention than I intended. As I look back on these early memories with my now friends, they said I was awfully quiet. I had changed from my middle school self. Me? Quiet? I thought to myself. What happened to me being the loud one in the group, the one who would never stop talking?

As I carried on through the day, I finally made it to lunch, the epitome of the cliché high school experience. Luckily, the people in my school were warm and welcoming and invited me to sit with them at lunch. But those kids from class who all went to school together in middle school? We were still pretty distant.

I soon adjusted to the new school, high school life in general and those kids who I didn’t click with at first are now my closest friends.

So, what’s my advice to you, as an incoming freshman? In the least clichéd way possible, my advice to you is to be yourself. Think of high school as a fresh start. A new chapter, where you can make new friends, meet new people and paint a new picture of yourself.

…Just don’t wear a really flashy blue leather jacket on your first day.

Bella Rudoy is a rising junior at Westchester Hebrew High School in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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