2016 to 2019: Tips to Freshmen From Seniors

By Amanda Rosa, Emerode Barthelemy, Simon Pinto
NOV 18, 2015

Starting a new school year is never easy. Starting the year at a new school is even harder. The first year of high school can seem like a daunting prospect that leaves freshmen with more questions than answers. Seniors at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) understand exactly what it is like to begin and end their high school journey as Raiders. They also know this school from the inside-out. After years of experiencing everything that STA has to offer, the class of 2016 provides the following advice on how to survive high school.

Jonathan Azarpad

Jonathan Azarpad

Study Tips:  

  • “It’s better to study about three days before a test than the night before because that’s not going to fly.” – Alexis Cajiao
  • “Be organized. Get a planner.”- Veronica Rusk
  • “I will go to bed at around 10:00 and then wake up at 3:00 in the morning to get studying… It works for me when there is nothing going on and everyone in my house isn’t walking around, so it’s really quiet. I’m already awake and I’m not going back to sleep so I might as well study.” – Kelly Litts
  • “Never procrastinate about studying because you never know when you might get a pop quiz or homework that you weren’t expecting.” – Jonathan Azarpad

 Recommended Clubs:

  • ¨Join the STEM club if you are doing well in science classes. You get to tutor every Monday for an hour. The time [service hours] stacks up.”- Edgardy Laurent
  • “Jack and Jill is a really good freshman club. You get two service hours per trip and get to play, sing, and read with the little kids who are in hard situations. It’s super cute and super sweet and a great experience.” –Kayla Gonzalez
  • “Freshmen should join Aquinas Kindness and the Marine Biology Club!” – Tiffany Taxis
  • “Get involved with the activities that you are interested in or are out of your comfort zone.” – Izzy Sebalos
  • “Join Thespians! We need recruits! Help!” – Bob Lawlor

AP and the Best Classes to Boost GPA:

  • “Don’t kill yourself with the classes that you take. Take the classes that are right for you and that you are interested in.” – Gillian Kamerer
  • “Don’t take classes that are going to stress you out. Take AP classes that really matter to you because not all colleges accept them as credits. Try to take one or two AP classes to prove to yourself that you can take a college course.” –Izzy Sebalos
  • “Take a class you can handle. It looks much better [on your transcript] to excel in a moderate class than to make average marks in an AP class.” – Dana Santangelo
  • “Your grades from freshman year are more important than you’d think. If you work hard freshman year, you’d have a much easier time for the rest of high school. It’s easier to maintain a steady GPA than to dig yourself out of a hole for three years.” – Amanda Rosa

Keep Your Teachers Happy

  • “Always do your homework, be responsible, and be sociable.” –Edgardy Laurent
  • “Do all of the homework. Don’t be a kiss-up. If they ask you a question, answer it and be respectful.”  – Amber Hughes
  • “Try to take genuine interest in the subject and look at it as a learning opportunity, not just a class to pass.” – Butterfly Wright
  • “Don’t make any excuses. Just do the work… Like Shia Lebeouf says, ‘Do it! Just do it!’” – Kara Bittner

Fun School Events:

  • “Go to as many school events as you possibly can. Encourage yourself to go even if you initially don’t want to, because by your senior year, you’ll wish you had gone to everything.” – Dana Santangelo
  • “When I was a freshman, I was really unsure about whether or not I would enjoy Cailini. I ended up having an amazing time every year. It’s a really fun way for all the girls to come together and compete in a variety of events.” – Amanda Rosa
  • “Do things that you enjoy! Don’t just do them to say you did them.” – Darian Adriano

How to Juggle Sports, Extracurriculars, Jobs and Grades:

  • “For Thespians, during the week of the show, we stay at school until 10:00 PM. So get a little bit of homework done whenever you get a break, like during the day or after school.” – Kristen Smalling
  • “Time management is extremely vital. It’s obvious that you want to be the best at everything, but sometimes you need to take a step back and see what requires more time and what requires less time. Sometimes people are reluctant to ask for help, but I’ve found that if you ask people to help you, you’ll feel more relaxed.” – Darian Adriano
Seniors bond over lunch and after-school clubs

Seniors bond over lunch and after-school clubs

Make These Four Years Memorable

  • “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Nobody is going to beat you up here.” – Kristen Smalling
  • “Surround yourself with a good group of friends with the same values as you because a lot of people change throughout high school. It’s important to have people to keep you grounded.” – Tiffany Taxis
  • ¨Join clubs and find one that you really like. It’s a great self esteem boost when you feel like you belong to something.¨ – Armando Figueroa
  • “You can make these four years memorable by living every moment to the fullest, living as much as you can. Go to every event you can manage. Challenge yourself with the hardest classes you can handle. Put yourself in the mold of the St. Thomas society. That’s how you make this memorable.” – Amber Cartier

High school is about much more than grades and books. It is a learning experience filled with interesting people and exciting events. Four years go by faster than one would expect. Look at high school as an adventure. It is not going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it.

All Photos: Amanda Rosa