A Letter to the Freshmen
Dear Class of 2021,
You will hear the words “get involved” a million times this year. However, I can confidently say that if I chose not to get involved at Notre Dame Preparatory, my high school experience would not have been as special. “Getting involved,” though, is one of many ways to make high school special. Here is a list of ten things you can do to start the next four years off right.
1. Attend school dances: There are two school dances that all NDP students can attend: Homecoming and the Neon Dance Party. Whether you’re dressed up or covered in paint, you’re bound to have a good time by having an optimistic perspective. Dances are perfect for surrounding yourself with your friends and shaking off all the stresses of school. Don’t be the person who is “too cool” to go to these events; this is where you’ll make some of your best NDP memories.
2. Experience the Dog Pound: Their main goal is to create school spirit by making pep rallies and sports games as fun as possible. The most important lesson here is to avoid allowing your friends be the sole influence in whether or not to attend games. If you want to go but have no friends who are going, hang out in the Dog Pound.
3. Get to know your teachers: One of the best things about NDP is the small class sizes, which are capped off at 27 students. This creates great opportunities for getting to know your teachers.
Senior Andrew Lindbloom said, “I’ve really come to create good relationships with the teachers I’ve had.”
These relationships will take time, but don’t be afraid to take little steps, like saying, “hi” to your teachers in the hallway. Also, If you don’t understand something, talk to them. The faculty at NDP wants to help you in any way they can, but first you have to ask.
4. Participate in retreats: Even if you’re not religious, retreats are a great opportunity for personal reflection. Each grade level has a “day of reflection” that allows students to reflect on how they’ve been doing during the school year. The key to these days is attitude: if you go in with a negative preconception, you’re not going to enjoy yourself. Eventually, you’ll get the chance to go on more retreats, such as the Sophomore Girls Overnight or the famous Kairos retreat.
5. Meet new people: Whether you came here alone or with 50 other students, I strongly recommend getting to know your peers. The people you come into high school with will most likely not be the people you leave with. Put yourself out there; you might make a new best friend. NDP provides multiple ways to do this, such as Freshmen Connection and Freshmen Plunges (where freshmen Theology classes go off campus to serve the community). Again, attitude is everything; the best way to enjoy yourself during these events is by being positive.
6. Join clubs: Clubs are one of the best ways to experience NDP.
Senior Devin Douglas said, “getting involved your first year in high school is so crucial, because it helps you find who you are as a person.”
When the time comes to join clubs, make sure that you sign up for ones you will enjoy. Most clubs have weekly or bi-monthly meetings, so there will need to be a commitment on your part. Also, don’t sign up for a club solely because your other people are joining it. Make sure you would still be in the club, even if your new friends decide to quit later on.
7. Balance: Sometimes you will see multiple clubs or sports that you want to join. While it’s great that you’re excited to get involved, it’s also important to balance your classes with your extracurricular activities. Don’t try to juggle everything; instead, pick a couple of things you truly enjoy and try your hardest at them. Balancing clubs and classes will be easier if you care about what you’re doing.
8. Work hard all four years: During freshmen year, you might be tempted not to try since you won’t have to start thinking about college until your junior year. However, this will come back to bite you later on. Doing well freshmen year mean that you’ll be prepared for soon-to-come AP classes. Thus, your grades will be better and will impress more college admissions officers. Also, colleges do look at all your grades; they will be suspicious if they see that your grades begin to look “good” only your last two years.
9. Challenge yourself academically: Honors and AP classes are a great way to go more in-depth about what you are learning. If you are scared of taking too many “hard” classes, take a couple in subjects that you enjoy. That way, you will be more interested in the class since it is a subject you already like. Also, don’t be afraid of getting a B in an Honors class. Colleges will be more impressed with a B in a challenging class than an A in a regular class because it shows that you pushed yourself.
10. Have an attitude of gratitude and optimism : NDP provides countless opportunities that you can’t find in other schools. Websites to aid with college searching, retreats for different grade levels, and free snacks (aka snack attacks) are just a few of the things that NDP has to help make school more fun and helpful. If you go into high school with an open and grateful attitude, I can guarantee that your high school experience will be both fun and productive.
“High school is fun because you make it fun,” Douglas said. “… If you go into events and games willing and wanting to have fun, then you will.”
The past three years at NDP have flown by for me, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way when you are seniors. Graduation may seem a century away, but soon you’ll be wearing a black polo and wondering how time flew by so quickly. I encourage you to give high school your 100% effort. Take the class you’re both scared of and curious about. Go to all the school dances and have a blast. Embrace what NDP has to offer. Lindbloom sums this up well: “if not for getting involved, high school would have been very boring.”