Dear Rising Sophomores,
May 13, 2022
Everyone stresses about making sure the freshmen have adapted to this next chapter of their life. Juniors are the most stressed with all of their tests. And senior year gets all the questions about the future and all of the choices that decide said future. I skipped over sophomore year, and you probably did not even notice. Sophomore year is the least talked about section of your high school journey, but this is not a bad thing.
This is the year to enjoy high school. You just overcame the first year and all of the drama of middle school friend groups splitting up. You do not really have to think about college yet and, most of the time, you have no idea what you want to do with your life after high school. You are, nearly, carefree during your sophomore days, so embrace it. Do not be a timid freshman anymore. You should talk more — specifically to three different types of people.
Look around your desk in class. And make some school-friends. These are people you would never see outside of school, but they are some of your closest friends. They help you get through those lessons or even crack a joke to pass time. School-friends are not the most important people you will meet in highschool, but they are the most fun. Inside jokes, group therapy during transitions and gossiping will make the long days a lot more enjoyable. Sophomore year is when I truly started to appreciate these drama-and-energy-free friendships. You should too.
I remember sitting in AP Gov (shoutout to Ms. Vigil) and forming, what we thought at the time, the best inside joke ever created. The three people I sat by and I noticed a piece of gum stuck to the wall, and we named it Larry. In true Diary of a Wimpy Kid fashion, Larry-touch quickly enveloped our group. For months we would shy away from the person who had the touch, and often ran out of the room in fear of getting touched after class.
This group and I talked everyday for a whole year, and they helped make my sophomore year a fond memory. We have not really hung out of school, and we sparsely keep in touch. But without them, I may have found myself more bored. School-friends get you excited about class and, in turn, make you more motivated. This school year is the time to buckle-down and not lose focus, school-friends keep you on track.
Look to the front of your classroom. That person who seems like they are talking forever is, in fact, a valuable resource beyond their lessons. Talk to them. Move past your angsty-early-teenage-year-self and learn to appreciate your teachers. As every teacher ever would tell you, they did not choose to be a teacher for the money. A good teacher will brand their profession as raising the youth to be ready to be an adult. Find a teacher you connect with and talk to them.
Mr. Anderson was my algebra 2 teacher. Even with my phone sitting in a pocket behind his desk, his class was always fun. I dreaded missing a period because I would miss more than just a lesson. He always had a story to pull us into our material for the day. He made a pumpkin-tracker to track the growth of a pumpkin a student in our class was growing. He made math-oriented escape rooms. And he never failed to make us laugh.
After I moved on from his class, I learned that this man is truly remarkable. He graduated from Duke and left a very well paying job to become a teacher. He loves his job and students. Looking back at his class, I learned so much more than math from him. I learned concrete life skills that I would have missed if I just paid attention to algebra 2. Slow down and meet your teachers. They have so much more life experience, and most are willing to share.
Look around your home. If you are fortunate enough to have parents that are asking about your day, answer them — beyond the classic “it was fine.” If your little siblings are nagging you about going to the park… go to the park. It is pretty plain and simple: you are not going to live in your childhood home forever, so you might as well embrace it.
For those of you lucky few who have never moved homes or have never experienced any form of trauma, the next few years of your life may be bumpy. Get prepared. The rest of high school, or college, may not be smooth sailing, and that is okay. When the going gets tough, go to your family for support when there is no one else.
I made the error a few times. I went hide in my room all night after school when things were hard. In retrospect, I had plenty of people to turn to under my roof. I should have used that resource to help me learn and grow — instead of doing it solo. Sophomore year is plain and simple; do not make it more difficult by growing alone.