How to Survive High School (a Daily Blog)

This is written to high schoolers from a high schooler.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hello, and welcome to my first blog. Starting from now on, I will submit an entry most every day about my experiences at high school. I go to a very good public high school, and I am given many great opportunities. However, that’s not to say I don’t run into any problems or hard decisions I have to make. For example, yesterday me and my public forum debate partner, decided to drop out of today’s debate tournament. For those of you who do not know what public forum debate is, I will explain. Public forum is a style of debate in which there are two teams of two, debating a topic with facts. The topic changes every month, and for January the topic is; On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests. Lets just say that this was not a very popular topic. Anyways, yesterday my partner had to attend a track meet that went until seven. We met at eight and didn’t start working until eight thirty. We had gotten together earlier this week, but we still had to write two four minute speeches on economic sanctions. I would explain the debate topic if I wasn’t so sick of it already (if you really want to know just look it up). The dropout deadline for the tournament was nine p.m. on Friday, so me and my partner anxiously debated;) whether we should compete or not. Before I move on with the story I must go back to earlier this week. Me and my partner had both flipped out at least once at our parents because of how much stress we were going through. Midterms are coming up and we had a big science test on Friday. On Wednesday I got home from school after working on debate. My dad offered me a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I still had a garbage truck’s worth of homework to do, and I know if I start eating I won’t start homework for a while. However, part of me really wanted that chicken soup. I go back and forth until so much ridiculous stress builds up that I nearly explode on my dad. Then to let some of it out I march out of the room and mumble that I have to much homework. After settling at my desk my mom comes in my room. She asks me how I am doing and then asks me if I want a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I nearly explode on the spot. I say no and then she goes and asks me if I emptied the bowl she put out for me and I say no, dad must have done it. She keeps talking to me and then finally leaves before I have a total meltdown. Just to be clear I’m usually not like this. Just under stress I tend to get really mean. I love my parents, and they do so much for me. Sometimes I just get a little annoyed. However, after finishing my homework at the crack of dawn, I went down and had a bowl of chicken noodle soup;). It was good. Turns out the same day I had my mental breakdown my debate partner also screamed at her parents. Clearly it had been a rough week for the both of us. We thankfully decided to skip debate. Afterwards I felt so relieved and not the least bit guilty. That night talking to my parents I realized that it’s ok to stop and breath for a second, especially as a high school student. So the next time you feel extremely stressed take something off your plate, and swap it with some chicken noodle soup;). Don’t expect to be able to do everything all the time. No one is that perfect.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Finding your voice

From the second you enter the doors of my high school you feel instantly small. Physically and mentally. It is a largely known misconception that freshmen should not know anything or have any good ideas. This is simply not true. Everyone, from freshmen to seniors fear being wrong or made fun of. It is the simple fact of high school life. Teenagers can be mean and backstabbing. However, trust me when I say this, if you always voice your ideas and opinions they will be correct or good at least one percent of the time, and people will respect you more and more for them. The gratification of being appreciated for just a second is much better than the pain of holding your tongue for an eternity. One particular example in my life came up today as I attended a robotics brainstorming session. During the session we shared ideas for the design of our 2016 robot that will compete in this year’s First Robotics game challenge. The game for this year is titled stronghold. It consists of two towers and two walls of various obstacles. In order to gain points (which go towards your team’s record) the robot must either cross defenses which include drawbridges, portcullises, bumpy terrain, ramparts, moats, and the brick wall, or throw large dodge balls into windows in the tower. At the end of the game, the robot may scale the tower to a certain height to gain even more points. During the brainstorming session, I was in a group with several freshmen and a few seniors (one of which was a team captain). Together we designed a robot along the parameters. Our mentor asked us to defend a certain aspect of the robot. We all looked to the team captain in our group, he said nothing as if he was frozen to his seat and his mouth lost the function to open. I raised my hand. If you didn’t realize before, I am a freshman. Our mentor smiled and posted towards me. I found the courage to speak confidently about why we chose what we did in front of forty students. Afterwards, our mentor complimented me for what I said, and I felt deep pride and gratification. Overcoming your own fear is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do as a student. Sometimes you may feel like as an underclassman you are oppressed by the social stigma that you are supposed to know nothing. Trust me, you will be respected for voicing your opinion and ideas.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Test taking 101

I don’t know about you, but I hate tests. Not only do I hate taking a test, I hate preparing and studying for tests. It’s not like I fail every test I take. I usually get fairly good grades, but the stress I go through before, during, and after a test is almost impossible to cope with. Sometimes, before a test my anxiety gets so bad that my hands shake, and every possible terrible scenario plays through my head in an endless cycle. I have been in high school for almost half a year now, and I have taken at least five tests per class (I take seven classes). I know what I should and should not do before a test. For example, today I had a midterm test in english where we had to write an essay on the status quo. We either wrote about sticking with the status quo or rebelling against it. My english class is not all that difficult. We’ve had around five tests, but two of them were vocab quizzes. We have written maybe two essays in the class. By comparison, in History I have written ten, or so, essays. I was particularly anxious about this test because we had done little to prepare in class. The teacher gave us an outline to fill out which we could then bring in to the test, but other than that there was no other guidance. Last night’s I reviewed my outline (which means I took it out to make sure I had it) and then proceeded to watch Netflix. I should have reviewed, and actually looked over my outline, and then possibly written a rough draft of my essay just for practice. The second thing I did not do when preparing for this test was getting a good night sleep before hand. That I remedied with a large amount of caffeine in the morning. Please do not do the previous two things I did before your test. In this particular case, I wasn’t to concerned about the test. This leads me to my third point. Do not stress! Right, because that’s going to calm you down, but I’m serious. Tell yourself whatever you need to or whatever loophole you can find. For instance, maybe the test has a makeup afterwards, it doesn’t count for that much of your grade, you know the material to the best of your capabilities, the class doesn’t really matter to you, or in the long run a poor grade will not affect your entire life. This part of my test preparation I do a very good job of. I love finding loopholes in things or excuses. It’s what most teenagers do best; procrastinate. I also find that thinking about these loopholes calms me down. Another thing that helps me get through a test day is a full stomach. You’ve probably heard it before, but I’ll say it to you again. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and not only is it important it is an encouraged eating session. All of my health classes have told me to eat breakfast, and breakfast is a good excuse to eat pancakes, waffles, sausage, and the ultimate superfood, bacon. Usually every morning I have my tea and eggs over-easy. Sometimes my mom makes smoothies or cuts up fruit. I could never go through the day without breakfast (I highly recommend it). If you are having difficulties with the subject matter I find it’s great to talk one on one with a teacher or if that’s not possible, email your teacher. All of the teachers I’ve had, love a well written and formal email. That includes starting with dear (your teacher’s name), ending with sincerely (your name), and thanking them for their time somewhere near the end. If all else fails you could talk to a friend or a upperclassmen. You could also look up help videos or other recourses. One of my favorite websites is khan academy. They have some great tutorials. The most important thing when taking a test is to try your best and be sincere about what you know. The best use of a test is to help you, and your teacher, gage where you are. If you struggle in a particular area, a test will show that to your teacher. Just remember, this is high school, and a single number out of thousands is hardly significant.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tests 101 continued

This is a continuation of the blog on tests. Yesterday I talked more about what to do before and after the test. Today I will talk about an issue that is often never spoken about. The moment of the great reveal. The second your teacher hands you your graded test, or posts your grade online. This moment is usually dreaded, yet can never come too soon. Recently I received a much awaited grade. No I did not get my english midterm back, but I did get my science grade from a test last Friday. Our science teacher usually puts in our grade only a few hours after we take the test. Sometimes we even see him grade the tests while some students are still finishing it. Watching him grade is terrifying. I hate watching people read or grade my work. I just get very anxious about what they will think. He grades like it’s a race. I’ve seen him grade a paper in under ten seconds. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is ;). Of course for this test he took his time entering our grades. I find that before are teacher grades an assignment two groups of students emerge. The first group, is of students who check their grade portal every three seconds, and all they talk about is the test. One of my friends belongs to that group, and if we are waiting for a grade she will text me everyday asking if I know mine yet. The second group consists of people like me. Those people who completely ignore anything related to the test they have just taken, until they have to face reality. I tend to completely put anything that is bothering me, out of my head. Whenever someone mentions a test that I’ve just taken I sort of go into autopilot and let them talk for a while. So back to the science grade, of course as soon as I get my grade my friend’s texting me and asking how I did. The test was out of 85 points, so I send her how many points I got out of 85. Just to be cruel, I didn’t specify whether it was the percentage grade (out of 100) or the numerical grade (out of 85). My friend went to the lengths of tracking me down during my math class (by the way, I think she had a class during the period too) to ask me to specify because my phone was off during class. Her and I have a very competitive relationship. As in, bragging rights are our currency between each other. We get extremely competitive about grades (usually I win ;) ). Thus, she needed to know whether to celebrate or completely ignore me for a full twenty four hours. Let’s just say, she and I have fallen out of communication for a while ;). When it comes to waiting for a test grade, it depends on what kind of person you are. Maybe you hate thinking about grades and that’s just fine as long as you reach out for help if you are struggling. There are always people to help, and some people even enjoy helping (I know weird right?). You’ll feel better after you address issues. If you are not having issues with grades then feel free to forget about it for a while. It really helps reduce your stress. If you find comfort in constantly worrying about things, I may not understand you, but I know that works for some people. Most importantly don’t over stress. You can still go to college if you have one bad grade in math. Your parents will still love you if you bomb a history quiz. The earth will orbit the sun, even if you fail French (it’s a true fact). For those of you who excessively rub your perfect grades in your friend’s faces, please remember that you could easily be in their position. Yes it’s ok to brag a little, but constantly bringing your friends down will leave you with no friends.

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