A Look Back

What Has High School Taught Me?


Emma Padelford

Freshman year. So many memories flood my mind when I think of the moment I first stepped foot on campus. On my back, I carried a bulky backpacked crammed with whatever I thought I could possibly need for high school. Since this was the first year I was not given a school supply list, shopping required a lot of guesswork, and in the end, I had everything. In my hand, I carried my phone which held both my schedule and a map of the campus. If I had to guess the amount of times I had to pull out my schedule and my map to make sure I was going to the right place, I would say it was probably around 50 that first day. My hands shook with both eagerness and nerves for the next four years that stood before me. 


Looking back at the beginning as a senior, I can say that there is a lot that I wish I was more aware of coming into high school. I wish that I could walk up to my freshman self and tell her that high school is going to be nothing like she expected it to be. Reality isn’t at all like a cheesy teen movie. 


Over the years, the most important things I have learned are…


High school will be over before you know it. I feel like I was at my freshman orientation just yesterday. High school should be a time that you enjoy. The overall experience is heightened when you get involved. Go to school dances, participate in clubs, sports, and activities, and go to the football games, make friends and build relationships with your teachers, and remember to live in the moment.


Participation in fun and activities is important; however, it can’t be fully enjoyed unless you are active in your learning. This includes asking questions when you need help, volunteering when your teacher needs help or a demonstration, answering questions, being respectful, doing all your work on time, studying, and working hard. Today’s average student may not do all these things because of the fear of being judged, being wrong, or just the lack of motivation. But it is crucial that we get rid of these flaws now. Soon, we will be adults and if we don’t develop our learning skills, going to college and getting a career will be very difficult. We need to not worry about being wrong or getting laughed at. What we need to be worried about is the person we are becoming. It’s okay to ask questions, the answer will help you succeed. It’s okay to be smart, you can use it to benefit others. It’s okay to not know everything, no one does. It’s okay to be wrong, you learn from mistakes. 


Planning ahead is a crucial element to surviving these four years. Planning your studies, your homework time, your activities, sports, and free time can all be well maintained as long as you have balance. Now is the time that you must realize the things that are of the most importance to you. Choosing to study for a final exam rather than hanging out with a friend could impact your overall grade. Going to a party instead of practicing your sport could cause you to miss out on a college scholarship. Clearly planning is important and it requires a careful balance so you don’t cause yourself to burn out. In high school, you are bound to have a lot going on. But work hard by maintaining your grades and performing well in sports and activities, then make time for fun. 


Another important thing I learned is to be kind. If we are kind to everyone, not just to our friends or the people who are kind to us first, the environment of our school will change dramatically. There will be less bullying, less judgement, less hurt, more friendships, more respect, and more love. It’s really the simple things that change a place. It could be saying good morning to a teacher, helping someone who looks to be in need, complimenting a stranger in the hallway, holding the door for someone, investing time into people, standing up for someone, inviting someone who is sitting alone to eat lunch with you. If we become less aware of ourselves and more aware of who is around us and what is happening, things are bound to change for the better. Be remembered for your kindness.


 These last four years are important. It’s important to learn, smile, laugh, grow, work hard, and shape your future self. These are the last years before adulthood. They are either what shape you or break you. Each decision you make now will advance you into the future or they will cause you to stumble along the way. Think about the person you are and reflect. Are you headed in the right direction?