A Letter to High-Schoolers Starting School…


Dear potential high schooler,

You’re going to be okay.

I go to a school where kids in my classrooms love talking about their academic strengths and weaknesses and to learn from their mistakes as a class. We are not afraid to accept that everyone is different and interprets subjects and topics in different ways. I wasn’t always like this, however. I was shy when I first entered middle school, nervous to talk, raise my hand in class, or even ask questions. I didn’t want to be seen as stupid, because who in the world would ever risk their reputation in the big upper school league, am I right? I wasn’t right. I started to do poorly in school. My grades were dropping low, and I was too shy to take any accountability. That all changed during homeroom, when I saw a couple of kids laughing with each other, feeling happy and spreading that warmth around the room. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time, and something clicked inside me. I marched to my math class and asked for help. I raised my hand during debates and tried to make points, and I was okay with people disagreeing with me. I soon felt happy, like I wasn’t hiding. I made new friends. I loved myself for who I was. I had the integrity to recognize my struggles and tackle them.

I remember eventually getting an acceptance letter from the National Junior Honor Society. That envelop felt crisp in my hands, it felt like a gem. I cried with tears of joy not because I would have a golden pin or a bragging right but because I had finally trusted myself, and others could see that. It was only the beginning, but I had known that I had taught myself a lesson that would help me thrive the year after and onward: academic integrity.

Since then, I have become resilient in high school. I have been learning to show a voice, and while I’m still working on that, you might be, too. And if you are learning on how to empower your voice in a school with fluttering locker doors, dense, sometimes smelly hallways, and lots of demand from the people around you to “make your high school years count”, know that you can do it, as long as you stay true to yourself, keep your head up high, love the people who care about you, and ask questions. Challenge yourself and the people around you. Show academic integrity and positivity. Go into your classrooms—as daunting as they may be—with a smile. Trust me—this pool of fish is only the beginning.