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Listen up, freshmen: advice for the class of 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Finally, the end of the school year is here! No more tests or homework or buses. No more nagging teachers or waking up at ungodly hours of the morning. Just two whole months of sun, sleeping in and summer jobs for extra cash!

For seniors, this means no more SATS or ACTs, no more WESTEST and looking forward to what lies beyond high school. For eighth graders, it means looking forward to what lies beyond middle school -- the mystery of that new school with tales of facial hair, parties, AP classes and deciding on majors.

Current Winfield High School freshman Alex Moncada advises upcoming freshmen "to make new friends and try to branch out." School is hard enough as it is; friends and extracurricular activities only make it easier.

When it comes to making friends, some people view high school as a place to reinvent themselves. As a senior, I believe that in this time of figuring out our identity and trying to impress everyone, we all go through some type of reinvention.

However, though there is pressure, you need to accept the fact that there are others like you. Being yourself -- doing what you do and loving it -- will make people like you better than if you're trying to be someone else.

As for branching out, high school might already be scary, so why not go ahead and try new things? You can only disappoint yourself, but be OK with that. Try anyway. No one's perfect. Have standards, and accept the fact that some things you'll like and be great at, some things you'll like and be horrible at and some things just aren't your forte.

"Before getting involved in high school, I never knew that I could make big things happen. I had these ideas in my head, and I finally learned how to make them actually work through extracurriculars and being in an environment in which you could motivate a group of people that are very, very different from you," said Jillian Carney, Winfield High School class president.

Zachary Collins, a Winfield senior who graduated early, advised, "Always plan ahead. I've seen so many other students stress out because they didn't make good use of their time and prepare."

With this new experience comes new responsibility. And as time goes on, you might find you have less and less spare time. Don't wait until the last second to get something done. Study. High school courses are more advanced, and some teachers are more demanding.

Also, get everything ready for school the night before. It makes mornings much smoother, and you won't spend all day wishing you had a clean shirt on.

Maybe the most important piece of advice to freshmen is from Buffalo High School senior Bryan Simpson. He said, "Don't wait until you're a senior to start thinking about what you want to do with your life."

Four years may seem like plenty of time to decide, but time flies, and being prepared will help you in the long run more than you can imagine.


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