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A little freshman guidance from an upperclassman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Entering high school can be the most terrifying part of a student's life. The fear of going from top dog to rookie can unnerve even the most popular kids from middle school. The upperclassmen seem all knowing and godlike, the hallways feel like a labyrinth and your teachers? Well let's say they are the villains in this scenario.

All of these fears have been running through your head a thousand times per second since probably the sixth grade. The panic truly sets in, though, the moment you walk through the doors...

Your first thought, after seeing the gargantuan crowd of people, is most likely, "How am I going to find my friends?" Or perhaps, "Where am I going to sit?" These are both reasonable and understandable questions. However, know that most "freshies" end up standing until they can find their own meeting place with their friends.

Speaking of friends, most freshmen are terrified of the thought of being left behind when their beloved friends join another group or clique. If this does happen, which it undoubtedly will, don't worry about it.

This is part of adapting to high school. You and your friends will find new friends, new people to hang out with. You're probably not going to have all your classes with your friends, and thus you'll have to talk to new people anyway. It's normal.

However, though the friend separation anxiety you will feel is mortifying, it is most likely the fear of getting lost that sets you on edge. There are so many hallways, rooms, staircases. There are so many -- too many -- options. Here is one hint, if you haven't figured it out yet (though I hope you have): the rooms numbers beginning with a one are on the first floor, and two on the second.

The fear of getting lost and potentially being late is where upperclassmen come into the picture. Say you are looking for your art class and are completely turned around when you see an older kid standing in the hallway. You know you want to ask them how to get to your class, but are terrified that they will just laugh at you and bully you around.

Well, have no fear. Most upperclassmen are happy to help. Why? Because they have been in your shoes. They have more than likely been in the exact situation you are in.

Plus, talking to an upperclassmen can be one of the best things you do because they might just take you under their wing and show you how surviving high school is done.

Once you've found your class and taken a seat (mostly likely in the back), you will encounter your teacher. He or she may look mean -- evil, even -- leaving you simply stunned.

Well, unfortunately, chances are that if they look mean, they probably are mean. You are going to have some evil teachers, teachers who will make you hate yourself and every day you are in their class. However, you will also have some teachers who are the sweetest, perhaps craziest, people you have ever met. And those are the teachers you will probably always remember.

Regardless of which kind of teacher you encounter, just remember a few simple things -- be as nice as possible, do your work and don't talk in class -- and you'll be fine.

Your first week of high school will be scary, but just keep your head held high and don't be late for your classes. It will get less scary, and you will have the time of your life. Trust me, I'm a senior.


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