The first week of school establishes the tone for an exciting year ahead, but as a new member of the high school, it can be a bit overwhelming. Freshman Maggie Hill endured the nerve-wracking first week, but not on her own.
Entering a school with thousands of new people can obviously be an anxiety-inducing experience, but for Maggie, it was less stressful than she anticipated.
“[The first week] was pretty good; it was better than I expected it to be,” Maggie said. “Finding my classes was the main [struggle], but I wasn’t really worried about anything else.”
The transition from middle to high school is tremendous, but Maggie wasn’t expecting the new load of work that comes with it.
“There is a lot more homework [in high school],” Maggie said. “Like tons.”
While Maggie is adjusting to life as a high schooler, AP Literature teacher Lisa Penninga is trying her best to start off this year as comfortable and fun as possible for her students, after a rough couple of years of online and hybrid learning.
“I think students appreciate normalcy more than they ever have,” Penninga said, “and I also think that I put my students first and curriculum second. I really want to make sure that mentally and physically, they’re healthy, and I [am doing] anything I can to make that transition easier. I feel like [in previous years], it has been like, ‘Let’s get through it,’ but I think we all care about each other in a different way.”
While Penninga is trying to adjust her students back to normalcy, she is also adapting to no longer teaching AP Language and Composition and only teaching AP Literature. The lack of AP Lang. and Comp. in her life is bittersweet, but she has always loved teaching AP Literature.
“I have never had just one prep [hour] before, so it is brand new to me to be teaching the same class for five hours,” Penninga said, “but I absolutely love it. It is a class that feels like home to me, so I love teaching it every hour.”
The new and old experiences that are happening during the first week back create enthusiasm throughout the halls of FHC. Similar to Maggie and Penninga, senior Ian Mahoney is thrilled by the start of his senior year.
Ian has decided to take initiative throughout his high school experience to make it the best it can possibly be, and he wants to follow through with that during his senior year.
“[This year] is weird because I feel a lot closer to everyone,” Ian said. “We all know this is the last time we’re all going to be together, so we’re all trying to live our last moments [as a class], and there is a sense of comradery between each other.”
Although Ian is looking forward to what the future of senior year holds, he also spends some time reminiscing on the past. While Maggie was navigating her classes in the unfamiliar building, Ian was remembering what it was like his first week of freshman year.
“[When I was a freshman], I just remember everyone being really tall,” Ian said. “ I would have to look up at everyone in the hallway, and as I look at the freshman now I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re short!’ It’s a cycle, I guess.”
High school is built up in media to be the most exciting time of life, and some of Ian’s fondest memories of high school were created because of the chances he took and being a part of the community. His idea of going through high school by trying to be a part of everything he could is exactly how he turned those expectations into his reality. An attitude like Ian’s can be truly inspiring to new freshmen like Maggie, who have just endured their first week of high school.
“I feel like [high school] kind of matches [the expectations provided by media],” Ian said. “In order for the reality to become to expectation, you have to put yourself out there. You have to get involved within the school, and I have been lucky enough to put myself in new situations and be active throughout the community. High school has been really fun, and I’ve gotten to meet so many people and do activities that in middle school, I probably wouldn’t have expected [myself to do]. The reality [of high school] exceeded my expectations because of how much I put myself into new situations.”