What I’ve Learned From High School: It’s No “High School Musical,” but It’s What You Make of It


Brooklyn Chillemi

I have really enjoyed my time over the past four years because I was able to take a hold of every moment, realize that it only comes around once, and make the most out of it. 

Dakota Canzano, Editor

High school — otherwise known as the most important four years of our lives so far, and a time period portrayed in classic movies such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day off,” and “High School Musical.” But what is high school actually like, and how is it best navigated? 

Although high school isn’t exactly like the High School Musical series, where people dance and sing in harmony, or chant upbeat songs in unison, high school has been the most influential part of my life so far. 

High school has been where I figured out more of who I am, who I want to be, and the types of people I want to surround myself with. High school was also a time when I figured out my passions, hobbies, and interests, as well as how important the value of kindness is. 

Although I may not know everything about high school, as I look towards graduation, I feel that I have some tips and tricks that I could share that have helped me get through the past four years, especially when facing new experiences that can be challenging or uncomfortable.  

1. Know that you are not alone.

Coming into high school my freshman year, I was extremely anxious. I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder for years, and I used to have the hardest time settling my nerves before entering the school building. Although I was very excited to start a new chapter of my life, I had days where I would dread getting up or going to school because of the anxiety I had and how nauseous I would feel in the morning.

Although I haven’t fully overcome my anxiety and still deal with it to this day, one of the key things that has helped me get through my days as an underclassmen, and even as a senior, was knowing that I am not alone. This was hard to realize at first, but being able to talk to friends, teachers, and counselors helped me get the support I needed. 

As I have begun to grow older, I have realized the importance of supporting others who are having tough mental health days and, when comfortable, opening up that you have dealt with challenging times too.

As a freshman, when the upperclassman opened up to me that they also struggled with anxiety, it helped me better understand that I was not alone and that it was totally normal. That’s why I advise making connections with others to let them know that they are not alone and to practice being vulnerable, because oftentimes, we have more in common with others than we might realize. 

Tony Huynh ’18 has inspired me to reach out to others because when I was an underclassmen, he always reached out and supported me throughout my high school journey and that is something that I really appreciated. (Photo courtesy of Dakota Canzano)

In order to support those around us and let people know they are seen, I always keep in mind the value of kindness. Being a supportive person in your community could be as small as saying hello to someone in the halls, checking in on others, and supporting the people around you — even the people you don’t know very well. 

2. Venture outside of your friend groups. 

Students often enter ninth grade with friends from middle school and stick beside them throughout the year, but something that I have learned is that it’s okay to venture outside of your friend groups and meet new people.

Writing for The Falconer has allowed me to connect with so many students from different friend groups. (Miles Kane)

It’s so important that you take time to branch out and talk to different people in your classes because over time, your friends from middle school can drift away, find new interests, and connect better with others. 

The importance of talking to people from different friend groups is key to making your high school experience more memorable. Everyone has a story and before your four years are up, you should start connecting with people now.

3. Get involved.

Getting involved is a great way to make friends, whether that’s auditioning for the school play, applying for student council, or participating in clubs, sports, or choir. The opportunity for positive experiences are endless when it comes to getting involved. You can not only create great friendships, but discover a passion for what you love.

Throughout high school, I have been a part of the student ambassador program, LINK crew for incoming students, many clubs and leadership programs, student and executive council, journalism, volleyball, and the theatre program. Each thing I have been a part of has taught me something unique. 

I played on the JV volleyball team at La Salle during my freshman and sophomore years. (Photo courtesy of Dakota Canzano)

High school volleyball taught me the importance of friendship, teamwork, and how hard work pays off.

Being a leader for the school has taught me how to connect with others, be a voice for the student body, and help encourage and support others to make the school community a welcoming place.

LINK crew has taught me how to reach out to the younger students and share my experience as a freshman to let them know they are not alone. 

Knowing that I could leave an impact on the underclassmen was the best thing to experience. It felt rewarding knowing that I was helping many students feel supported and seen by others. (Photo Courtesy of Dakota Canzano)

Whatever you join in high school, as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will appreciate the life lessons, experiences, and opportunities that many aspects of high school can offer. 

4. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Never compare yourself to others. 

Comparing ourselves to others is something that we all do, but it’s one of the most damaging things to our mental health. 

As someone who has not performed well with math and science in the past, and who has never taken any Honors or AP classes, I have learned that it’s okay to not always perform well in everything. It’s okay to not overwhelm myself by pushing my limits, and instead of doing this, I have grown to excel in other things.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, learn how to celebrate your classmates and their successes, encourage and support them, and admire their hard work and dedication. 

One of the most exciting things while being a school leader is getting to celebrate each student’s accomplishments and successes. (Fia Cooper )

I used to be bummed that I didn’t perform as well in school as my friends, but I have come to learn that as long as you try your best and put your time and dedication into something, you can do anything you put your mind to. 

I believe that we can all learn something from each other, and celebrating each other’s successes is one way we can do this. 

5. Get to know your teachers.

Getting to know your teachers is something that I can’t stress enough. Yes, your teachers are there to help grade your work and teach you academic lessons, but they are also there to be your friend and to help support you. 

My biggest mentor throughout high school was my journalism and junior English teacher, Mr. Miles Kane. Getting to know him on our trip to Washington D.C has been a highlight of my high school experience. (Julia Tran )

When you develop a connection with teachers, it makes it much easier to reach out to them when you are struggling or need assistance. 

If you can, get to know your teachers. Each teacher has a story — get to know theirs. 

6. Your interests and passions change, and that’s okay.

As a freshman, I was set on playing volleyball all four years of high school, wanting to make varsity and dreaming of playing in college. But over time, I grew out of volleyball and decided to try new things.

That decision to quit volleyball at the start of my junior year was extremely hard for me to make. I kept overthinking and was almost wondering if I made the wrong decision, but in joining the theatre program my sophomore year, I was inspired to try new things.

Joining the theater program my sophomore year was a happy memory for me because everyone was so accepting and encouraging of one another. (Photo courtesy of Dakota Canzano)

Trying new things and focusing more time on leadership helped me to realize that I wasn’t made out to be a varsity athlete in high school. I was more interested in connecting and working with people to help become a positive influence and leader for the school.

During your time at La Salle, I encourage you to try new things, drop the things you have grown out of, and join that team or group you have always wanted to be a part of. You won’t regret it because with every move you make, you gain a new perspective and experience. 

7. Make the most out of every situation. 

Out of all the advice I could give, this is the most impactful and important one yet. The best way to make your high school the most memorable experience is by making the most out of every event, school day, assembly, sporting game, and opportunity.

Making the most out of every experience will be remembered along with my growth as a student leader and person. (Fia Cooper)

I have really enjoyed my time over the past four years because I was able to take a hold of every moment, realize that it only comes around once, and make the most out of it. 

So, how do you make the most out of every opportunity? If the DJ at a school dance isn’t playing your favorite song or few people show up to an event, make the most out of what you are given. Dance to that song and just be with your friends. Yes, large attendance at events is a blast, but sometimes numbers aren’t everything. 

I still remember my sophomore year Sadie Hawkins dance, at which I met up with friends and had a blast. A lot of upperclassmen and other students had left halfway through, and by the end of the last hour, there were only ten to 15 of us in the cafeteria. I didn’t even notice the numbers at the time, because I spent the last hour of that dance just being with friends, singing the songs at the top of my lungs, and dancing my heart out. 

I have found that finding optimism in everything is key, because then you have something to look forward to and know how to make the most out of your experience.

Incoming freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors: make sure to attend that football game, go to that school dance, branch out to new friends, and make the most out of every opportunity you are given. This advice may seem cliche, but when you look back on your four years of high school, what do you want to remember most?