How to Make the Most Out of Your School Year
BY EMILY XU '23
On an early morning in late August, you walk through a grand foyer, admiring its vast skylights. Turning left, your feet clack across the shiny floors, bringing you to the western part of the building. You ascend a staircase, gasping when you reach the top. You marvel at murals spanning the walls. Some sort of synthetic varnish, you think, noting its vibrant tones. Nearby, you notice, are leaflets calling for public engagement in various local associations. Medieval European castle? No! ABRHS? Yes!
For some, it may be your first time at ABRHS; for others, it is a familiar routine heralding a school year full of possibilities. Whether you’re a freshman, a seasoned upperclassman, a senior new to AB, or anyone in between, here are some steps to make the most out of your school year.
Inside of the classroom:
If you have a certain academic goal you’d like to achieve, put effort into reaching it. Whatever you define as a goal differs from person to person; it’s up to you to decide what that threshold is.
Putting in effort looks different for everyone, but ultimately, it’s about making the most of your available resources. If you didn’t do well on your math test and your notoriously harsh Algebra II teacher offers extra help, attend it. Simply spending ten minutes reviewing mistakes in a smaller, you-centric group really helps with clarifying areas of confusion, and teachers are, after all, here to help you learn.
It’s also alright if your goals change! If you decide that you want to try harder even though your results from past years aren’t up to par with your new goals, don’t drop the ball before it’s even started rolling. Think realistically: what can I do to see this new mindset reflected in my results? Spend more time on homework? Attend extra help? What looks like “more effort” differs from person to person, so find what works for you.
Outside of the classroom:
There are so many ways to get involved in activities outside of the classroom, and ABRHS offers the resources to help you in that journey. You name it, ABRHS has got it: athletics, from cross-country skiing to rowing; theater, through Proscenium Circus; a cappella groups for all music tastes and experience levels; community service; and, of course, the 65+ clubs. With so many student organizations, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but have no fear! Once you figure out which clubs interest you and how much time you can devote to each, those options feel much more manageable.
If you’re into clubs that participate in competitions—be it local or national—there are so many that cover diverse topics. Competitions are fantastic places to meet people from different schools who share similar interests, and, by participating in these competitions, you increase your confidence, too.
Join publications! ABRHS has two publications: The Spectrum, our newspaper, and Window Seat, our literary magazine. Writing isn’t just for the humanities—you see it used in STEM all the time, and knowing how to structure good writing is a life skill you’ll need beyond AB.
Additionally, affinity groups are a great way to learn from students of different backgrounds, share similar cultural experiences, and engage others interested in new cultures. Many affinity groups incorporate activism into their meetings, and, in general, community service and activism clubs are also great opportunities to get involved with bringing change to AB with like-minded students.
Finally, interest clubs! These clubs are by far the most populous at AB, and their casual environments are ideal for those looking for clubs that don’t require a significant time commitment.
If no club fits your niche, feel free to start one yourself. Of course, you want to make sure that your club can survive even after you leave AB, so invest time into ensuring its longevity.
Participate in clubs that interest you, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Still, balance your time wisely; spreading yourself too thin can burn you out quickly. Make the most out of what AB offers!
The doorway connecting inside to outside:
Balance is the key to enjoying your time in high school, and it’s never too late to develop new time management strategies. If you’re struggling to find relaxation time, plan ahead for the week! I try to plan one de-stressing activity per week, whether that’s spending time with family, doing a hobby, or watching TV. I complete as much of my work as I can before then so that when it comes to actually relaxing, I can focus on enjoying myself. Afterward, I’m re-energized for whatever comes next. Work hard, but don’t do it at a detriment to your well-being.
And if school isn’t the most important facet of your life, it’s OK to find fulfillment elsewhere. Prioritize what makes sense for your needs; your goals are your own personal goals, not anyone else’s. A part of personal growth is figuring out what works best for you, and this looks different for everyone.
So, dive in headfirst, keeping this advice in mind. Make the most out of school, outside-of-school activities, and maintain a balance between the two. It’s OK for things to not be OK, too. Plans change, and some things don’t work out, but don’t let yourself be so downtrodden by the bad that you give up on the good.
When you look back at the end of the year, I hope that you look back on it fondly! Connect with your peers and teachers, deepen connections with people who you already know, and reach out to spark new ones. Wherever you are in your high school experience, you still have a full year ahead of you. Let’s make the most of it!