A year of looking back and forward from the freshman perspective


With the school year coming to a close and FHC’s senior class graduating, students of all grades have begun the process of moving on from the past school year to embrace the new one looming on the horizon.

For freshmen Biology teacher Russ Chudy, the most noticeable batch of students reflecting and learning from the past school year experiences is the freshmen class of 2026.

“We always hear [horror] stories about the upcoming freshmen and how terrible they are,” Chudy said,but I’ve taught freshmen now for two years in a row, and this group [seems] really good.”

Ever since COVID-19 shut down schools over three years ago, the effect it had on the educational system and school community leading up to 2023 has been slowly fading. 

Online classes and mask restrictions slowly dissolved into the past, bringing the majority of students back into the classrooms and communal socializing spots revived, like the outside cafeteria or band hallway.

Sports also saw an increase in success this year, as well, with multiple sports teams making states, regionals, and even nationals. Freshman Chloe Cox personally went to the States with her tennis team and made wonderful memories for her first year.

Be more outgoing. People don’t really care about you as much as you think, and be your own person.

— Hayden Tanner

“I was lucky enough to be a part of two varsity sports with great coaches and teams,” Chloe Cox said, “and I was able to go to states with both of them, which is clearly a blessing.”

School events, like Bandtasia and the fall football games, also increased their popularity with the younger students. Events, which in previous years students were discouraged or unable to participate in, became the must-go-to activities of the year. 

Particularly with the freshmen, the Homecoming lip sync, float making, and events for Winterfest were highly engaging, bringing together a class of many in the advent of their high school careers. 

And although some of these events could become uncomfortable to attend—like sitting in the snow or standing for hours to perform—for freshman Jackson Madigan they were definitely highlights for the class to remember.

“I loved the football games,” Jackson said. “They were a good experience and fun, and the energy was high. The student sections definitely added so much experience to the game.”

However, this influx of activities created a bit of a time-management crisis within the freshmen, as workloads and teacher expectations were demanding more time for studying.

During the beginning of the year, severe cases of burnout and high levels of stress were common as students adjusted to their overbearing workloads. Along with that, the introduction to subjects like PSATs and GPAs caused major confusion within the freshmen class to those who weren’t familiar with the standardized testing or grading system.

Some found help with sites like Quizlet or DeltaMath to help them study for tests, while others collaborated with their fellow students or friends.

“At the beginning of the year, I was worried about my potential in general,” Jackson said. “I have four years in here, so I was a little bit worried about that. But then I realized that it was no big deal and just got used to it.”

For all freshmen, past and present, perhaps the hardest thing to face in the year was not the stress, work schedule, or plentiful activities but the anxiety that comes with starting a new year. The fear of the unknown, intimidation from upperclassmen, and perhaps mass media as well have fed into this idea that starting fresh can or would be a terrifying experience.

But the truth is that everyone is a freshman at least once in their life, and everyone faces that universal anxiety that comes from beginning a new year. Sure, people get bullied a little, and some upperclassmen might make fun of you from time to time, but that’s not what freshman year is about.

It’s about learning who you are.

“Be more outgoing,” Freshman Hayden Tanner said. “People don’t really care about you as much as you think, and be your own person.”

And despite the hard work freshmen face, that phase is temporary, and eventually, people grow into their own personalities. And when senior year comes and goes, those students will be freshmen once again, learning about themselves in a new way. To all those incoming freshmen, don’t be scared and don’t stress; you’ll get through it.

“Be prepared to work hard, and if you think you don’t have homework, you always do,” Chudy said. “It’s always a good idea to review what you’ve done each day, stay on top of things, and have good attendance! There’s a lot you have to do if you miss two days.”