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Seniors Offer Advice to Freshmen

The transition from middle school to a large public high school can be intimidating. We spoke to a few seniors who have advice to freshmen on how to adjust to the M-A atmosphere and take advantage of the opportunities our school offers them.

What has been a challenge you had to overcome at M-A and what would you advise people to do if they go through the same challenge?

“The transition from a small school in the Ravenswood District to M-A was really overwhelming for me. For a lot of students M-A became a school where they felt as if they were interacting with other people and just felt as if they came into a more diverse area but for me I felt the complete opposite. I became one of the only few people of color in the classroom which made me feel really uncomfortable and different so it caused me to isolate myself from classmates. For anyone that is going through something similar I would tell them to keep going because they’re setting the example of what we can be. And I would tell them that it is something to be proud of. I would also tell them to try to not isolate themselves like I did because the people in your classes may have grown up differently but there are some that can be really cool and nice. You won’t learn this if you just close yourself off. The advise goes for dealing not only with classmates but teachers as well.” -Laura Arceo Madriz

“I’ve had a couple of rough transitioning periods throughout high school, like when I came back from my semester abroad junior year. Because it had been so long since seeing my friends and being in Menlo Park, I felt uncomfortable and awkward a lot of the time. I think the best way to transition out of a period like that is to just accept it’s temporary and try your best not to freeze up and hide from unpleasant feelings.” -Olivia Tai

“Okay so I think that my biggest challenge was letting all the stigma about the hard classes get to me. Like for APUSH (AP U.S. History) I honestly thought I would end up with a C because everyone said it was SO hard. In the end though it really depends on your style and how much effort you want to put in the class. The overall idea is that I feel like I missed out on learning even more because I thought the class would be too challenging.” -Natasha Auer

What is one thing you wish you would have known?

“Not to fret about every single test or homework assignment. One missing assignment won’t kill you.” -Nicholas Nolasco

How do you build relationships with your teachers?

“Building a relationship with a teacher is not as daunting as it may seem. I made friends with one of my best teacher friends because he called me Tash instead of Natasha. Plus teachers can get lonely so gossiping with them is another way to go. It’s something that small that can give you such a great and healthy and helpful relationship with mature adults.” -Natasha Auer

“Mr. Roisen always says that his job depends on students not understanding the material. If you go in and get help on your own time the teacher learns more about you as a student and as a person in a way they can’t in a 30-person classroom.” -Harper Wood

“I build relationships with my teachers by coming in regularly to discuss homework or class topics at lunch or break for fun, or for a deeper understanding of the topic. If I’m struggling I’m not afraid to talk to them about it or ask for their help.” -Nicholas Nolasco

Is there a group of people you wish you would have reached out to earlier?

“I really wished I could have gotten closer to more teachers and reach out of my comfort zone sooner. Freshman and sophomore year I didn’t really try to make friends with any teachers or anyone out of my socioeconomic community. I stuck with people I had gone to school with and didn’t really try to make friends with people from the East Palo Alto and Redwood City districts. I really wish I had because teachers are not there to be mean to you; they are there to support you whether it is emotionally or academically. The kids that I took two years to make friends with gave me so much insight into their life and what they go through; they also shared their values and lifestyle and hopes.” -Natasha Auer

What is one thing you wish you would have known?

“I wish I had known not to stress too much about school because all the teachers are very thoughtful and help you to adjust.” -Lukas Rash

How is M-A different from middle school?

“M-A is different from middle school because it is a very diverse place and has something fun for everyone to do. No matter who you are, you will be accepted and given the opportunity for success.” -Lukas Rash

“M-A is different from middle school because you have a bigger sense of individuality. You have more freedom in what classes you take and what extracurriculars can take.” -Nicholas Nolasco

What is a regret from your freshman year?

“From my freshman year, I regret worrying about how hard school would be and stressing about adjusting to the environment because everyone at M-A is very welcoming.” -Lukas Rash

“I went through a lot of peer pressure to take the hardest classes because you weren’t ‘smart’ if you didn’t take them. Instead of focusing on what my friends were taking I focused on what I could handle and what classes interested me. I would recommend that new students focus on what they can do in terms of schoolwork instead of what their friends are taking.” -Nicholas Nolasco

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