As an incoming freshman, you’ve reached a new checkpoint in your very own teenage coming-of-age story. On this side of the glorious gates of high school (and behind M-A’s formidable Performing Arts Center) awaits all you could have ever imagined—pep rallies, Friday night lights, homecoming galore. High school is exactly like what you’ve seen in the movies (even the part where students and staff miraculously break out into unrehearsed song), but we do caution you to pay attention to a few key things and untouchable rules of high school.

1. The Turtle Wins the Race

Don’t worry, this isn’t some contrived wisdom about how hard work beats talent or how you should move at your own pace. In fact, we’re telling you the opposite. Whatever leisurely pace you walk in the hallway right now, we beg you to slow down even more. Everyone knows that the best way to stay safe on the highway is to drive exceptionally slower than everyone else, even halting as you go. Admittedly, this advice is more directed at other grades, because you freshman do have a reputation for congesting the halls without even being asked. But ultimately, who cares if other people have to get to their classroom in five? They should be careful enough to work their way around you while not crashing. If you want to make Pride Hall even more of a maze, play around with lanes. Walk in zig-zag formation. Draw doodles with your path! The world is your stage.

2. Let Your Parents Pick Your Activities

What is the point of school if not to satisfy your parents? Ultimately, there is one thing you must realize: you are here to fulfill not your passions, but your parents’. Even if you spend your time at Soccer or Robotics twiddling your thumbs and wishing you were scrolling through Instagram, just know that by being there, you’re performing your sacred duty as a child. Remember, burnout doesn’t exist and you can pull through for your parents. Anything your parents suggest you do to bolster that sacred application is a must, and at this point you should know not to think for yourself! 

3. Clique, Clique, Clique

Meet the plastics. Cliques have been around for longer than any of us can remember- prehistoric, if you will. There are the geeks, athletes, artists, skaters, and goths, and, of course, the popular kids who rule the campus so hard that the teachers practically report back to them. The freshman clique you choose to associate yourself with early on can and should be your entire personality and the only place you derive your self esteem for the next four years. Unless you’re a “nerd,” you really should not be concerned about completing your homework. Your freshman teachers will understand. Being yourself and comfortable with who you are is ‘in,’ but we all know that that is pseudo for being the most oversaturated version of your clique possible. So, choose your character, and get out there baby! 

4. The Most Important Year Of Your Life

Graduates know that freshman year is the most decisive year of one’s high school career, and, of course, your entire life. There’s not more time for petty distractions e.g. making friends or attending school events. If you’re invested in your education beyond high school, a “nerd” if you will, you better get ready to spend every waking second in the library. So if you haven’t already found a cure to cancer and racked up a shelf of accolades, then you’re already behind. You won’t regret not socializing more this year or going to different school events while you had the opportunity.

5. Drama As an Extracurricular

High school is full of bad blood, secret admirers, and buried secrets roaming the halls and making their way into each corner of campus. Everyone knows that you would have to be in the group to know just the chaos that goes on in online chats and the gossip that is spread in the shoddiest school bathrooms (the more tea that gets spilled, the dirtier the bathroom is). And while adults might warn you to stay away from drama that only ends in tears and broken hearts, who can realistically keep themselves away from the spectacle that drama provides? If the social scene is rather peaceful at the moment, try exploding drama over stolen lunch eating areas. You should welcome your emotional instincts, because in order for drama to happen, there must be blood. Air all your potentially unjustified hatred out on the internet for maximum impact and do not second-guess your desire to speak your truth online in hot fits of rage. Revenge is sweet.

Sheryl Chen is a junior and in her second year in journalism. She hopes to expand her knowledge on issues pertinent to M-A and the local community. She is also a member of M-A's debate team.

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