WHAT I WISH I KNEW IN 9TH GRADE: Don’t be a home wrecker

Over the next two weeks, seniors will be writing columns for the freshmen, hoping the freshmen won’t make the same mistakes and undergo the same struggles they did. Emma Williams is the editor-in-chief of the Octagon’s print edition. She also plays in the orchestra.  

Looking back, I’d describe my high-school experience as a series of academic overreactions. I met every assessment with an immense amount of anxiety—even homework assignments had me staying up until the wee hours of the morning.

I was the first person in Mr. Neukom’s Ancient History class to be called a “home wrecker” after I turned in a two-page essay for a homework assignment that was supposed to be only a couple sentences long. And, by the end of junior year, the only words in my AP Chemistry textbook that weren’t highlighted were the and’s and the’s.

Consequently, the majority of my time outside of school was spent working on things that would eventually be turned in at school. While some may consider this a ghastly way to have spent the last three years, I have no regrets—I would still much rather work on practice AP Calculus exams or Octagon page designs than attend a party.

Nonetheless, I’ve accumulated a few very close friends over the years, and these well-meaning friends have occasionally succeeded in forcing me into social interactions.

Despite my initial reluctance to go along with their schemes, I can now appreciate what all those dances and group study sessions taught me.

There’s a lot to be learned from textbooks and novels, but, ultimately, it’s people—not books—that will shape your high-school experience. Yes, academics at Country Day can be rigorous and hard to keep up with. But high school’s too short to go through it with your head always stuck in a book.

I still hate dances (What exactly is the point of going to a hot, stuffy room filled with gyrating teenagers and headache-inducing music?), but I’ve come to love the hours beforehand spent getting ready and going out to dinner. Even Homecoming games have started to grow on me.

So my advice for the class of 2018 is this: don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. High school is a chance to make friends and figure out what you like—don’t pass up on new experiences and opportunities.

You have the next eight (or more) years to study, but you’ll be a Country Day freshman only once!


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