What Difference Does Four Years Make?

Gisella Brok

“As long as they put forth their best effort, everything will turn out okay.”

While four years may seem like a short amount of time in the overall scheme of things, the four years of high school can make a major impact. From things like workload to a students’ mindset, a lot can change. When thinking about this, I decided to ask two freshmen and two seniors about their perspectives and how they have shifted. 

Originally, when I  decided to write this article, I assumed that the freshmen and seniors would be very different when it comes to how they feel about high school and what is important to them. This assumption proved correct, and I think that the freshmen class can learn a lot from how seniors see high school as a whole.

Looking at the big picture, I asked these four people about what aspect of high school matters to them most. When looking at the freshman responses, I’ve come to realize that the two freshmen each had something a little different to say about this. The first student I interviewed was Gracie Gaile, who said, “I should probably say the education, but personally, it’s the social aspect.” Since she’s used to sticking with her old friends, she wanted to work on being more “out there.” 

The second freshman I interviewed, Ryan Galbraith, noted that both the social aspect and the grades matter to her, but she isn’t super concerned about either since she is more of a “go with the flow” type of person. 

The seniors also had pretty different ideas on what was most important to them. Ian Stripe mentioned how the social aspect is important to him because he wants to make friends that he will keep in touch with in college. On the other hand, Heyward Bost mentioned how keeping up good grades comes first, but her friendships are still very important to her.

I wanted to learn more about their mindset and high school experience, so I asked about what worries they had about the start of school and whether or not they have changed. 

Looking at the two responses from the freshmen, I’ve realized that while they had different worries to begin with, after the first couple weeks they both said they didn’t feel as worried anymore. 

When I compared the two seniors’ worries, they were a little more different from one another. Heyward was more worried about her college applications, and Ian was worried about whether some of the classic senior events would still take place even with Covid, or if they would be canceled like they were last year.

While the worries of high school can be intimidating, there is always something to look forward to! Gracie was looking forward to being able to make new friends and having the opportunity to get to know more people, and Ryan was looking forward to homecoming. Since middle school “wasn’t as fun,” she’s looking forward to the fun themes and being able to go to the game as a high schooler. 

As for the seniors, Ian was looking forward to the senior privileges (which are always a very big deal for seniors). They get more flexibility, are allowed to leave before or after lunch, and they have their own lounge. He noted that the added independence helps him prepare for college by letting him “get used to doing things on [his] own.” Heyward was looking forward to having a more normal year without Covid since she “hated missing out on old traditions” and is happy to get those back.

As much as high school is about social life and traditions, it is also about academics. Both freshmen are enjoying their classes, but they approach them differently. For Ryan, her classes are going “surprisingly well,” and she’s started to get into her own rhythm. Gracie is loving her theater class, but naturally, some of her classes can be “a little too much.” 

Both seniors have a class that they really enjoy and can look forward to. For Ian, it’s his statistics class, and he’s excited about being able to use it both in the real world and in college. Heyward is loving all of her classes, especially art history.

With all classes, of course, there come challenges, like homework. The freshmen had different opinions on their workloads. For Gracie, it was a lot more than she expected, and she’s already “had like 20 million quizzes.” Not-so-surprisingly, she actually had a quiz the next class! Ryan’s classes haven’t been too stressful, and she notes that she doesn’t feel too much of a change, since it is “similar to eighth grade.” 

The two seniors also had different opinions to share with me. Ian has lots of work such as studying for the SAT/ACT along with sports, but after a while it balances itself out. Heyward’s workload isn’t as bad as last year’s, but she is sure that “it will build up as the semester progresses.”

On the topic of workload, I asked about their amount of free time and how they spend it. The freshman had similar responses, since both of them had their own after-school activities and had to focus on schoolwork, but they both hang out with their friends over the weekend and have a way to destress such as reading or coloring. 

The seniors both get their fair share of work, but they spend their free time in their own ways. Ian uses his free periods to either do work or relax, and when he’s home he plays basketball, swims, and golfs as a way for him to destress because these things he can just do for fun and zone out. Heyward spends her weekends hanging out with friends and goes on runs after school.

After asking them the same questions, I decided to go into more grade-specific questions. 

I started by asking the freshman how they feel about entering their first year of high school, and they both mentioned how they felt nervous at the beginning, especially since there are so many big changes. So far, everything has gone well for them (“knock on wood,” as Gracie said). 

I asked the seniors a similar question, which was “How do you feel about being in your final year of high school?” Ian noted how it feels weird to him, and he can still remember his first day at Lovett in 6th grade. He explained how it “moves quickly,” and he shared that “as long as you enjoy what you’re doing and like the people you’re with, then it will feel great.” To Heyward, it “somehow just makes sense that everything is wrapping up.”

Since these two grades have very different things ahead of them, I asked the experienced seniors if they have any advice for the freshman. Ian explained how tutorials are very helpful, but there will be failed tests. He advises us not to stress over drama and just enjoy high school. It’s important to just let things happen, he said, as they will happen on their own and for a reason. Heyward said to find friends that care about you and to make it a priority to keep those friends. Like Ian, she also said not to worry too much and that “as long as they put forth their best effort, everything will turn out okay.”

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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