One Year Done: Four Freshmen Discuss Their Thoughts About Their First Year of High School


Fia Cooper, Lukas Werner, Photo Courtesy of Phoebe Sandholm

As the school year comes to a close, four freshmen reflect on their time at La Salle so far.

Jasmine McIntosh, Staff Reporter

Starting high school can be both an exciting and sometimes scary experience for students. With the added obstacles of the pandemic, this year’s freshmen have had more difficulties and unexpected challenges to navigate.

Here is a look at the perspective from a few freshmen on how their first year of high school has gone for them, what lessons they have learned from this year, and what they are looking forward to next year.

Kennedy Harris

For freshman Kennedy Harris, high school has far exceeded her expectations. The thing that surprised her the most was how the teachers were “so nice and easy to talk to,” she said. Harris particularly enjoyed math teacher Mr. Larry Swanson and his class, because it challenged her academically. 

The biggest lesson Harris learned from this year was, “don’t be scared of trying new things or meeting new people and doing things that you aren’t used to,” she said.

Those lessons are parallel to advice she would give to incoming freshmen. “It’ll work out,” she said. “You’ll make friends. You’ll have a good year.” 

As for what she enjoyed most this year, Harris said she really enjoyed meeting new people. “Coming into high school, that was the thing I was really scared about,” Harris said. “But after this year, I’m really happy about the friends I made.” 

The achievement Harris is most proud of this year is the success she’s had in athletics; she is this year’s state champion in girls’ tennis. “That was very exciting for me,” she said. 

Harris said her biggest challenge this year was the academic shift from eighth grade to freshman year. “There was a change in work which at first took a little getting used to,” she said.

Next year, Harris is looking forward to taking more challenging classes. “My honors and AP classes, I think those are gonna push me even more, and I’m really excited for that,” she said.

Phoebe Sandholm 

Freshman Phoebe Sandholm has had lots of success finding strong communities and relationships here at La Salle. Sandholm has especially enjoyed the environment of the theater and Maker Space, because they are spaces she feels welcomed and safe. 

Something Sandholm has really enjoyed about theater is being able to put on shows. “Since I’m on crew, just being backstage or in the booth, it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Her favorite classes this year were Intro to Theater Design and Intro to Design Thinking and Tools, part of the reason being that her favorite teachers Ms. Carrie Coleman and Mr. Michael Shelton teach those classes. She enjoys both of those teachers because “I’ve been in their rooms or areas a lot and I’ve just had good relationships with them so far,” she said.

One takeaway Sandholm has from this year is to work on better managing her time and to not get involved in too many clubs and activities. “I joined a lot of clubs and then realized I can’t actually do all of this without freaking out,” she said.

Through this, she has been able to find out what activities she really likes and wants to spend more time with. “I really like theater and being in the makerspace and this year has helped me figure that out,” she said.

Advice Sandholm has for incoming freshmen is to “be yourself,” she said. “I’d also say, just try a bunch of new things because then you can figure out what you like to do and what you want to do for the next years.” 

The biggest challenge Sandholm has faced this year was keeping everything balanced. “Theater was a big challenge because it took up a lot of my time,” she said. “And even though I love being a part of it, it’s hard to balance that and getting your homework done and getting a good amount of sleep. But it’s a challenge that I will take next year and continue to do.”

As a final note about high school and being a freshman, Sandholm said that, “I’ve really enjoyed my year here. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of new experiences.” 

Sayre Albert

Looking back at his first year of high school, freshman Sayre Albert has really appreciated the relationships he has been able to build with upperclassmen because he likes having someone to look up to. One upperclassman he has really looked up to is senior Aaron Leonard Graham. 

One important lesson Albert has learned from this year is, “Be true to yourself and get out of your comfort zone,” he said. Albert wishes he had been advised to follow advice similar to this coming into his freshman year.

The hardest part of this year for Albert was the transition from online learning in middle school because of the pandemic and in person learning in high school. 

Albert’s favorite class this year was Algebra 1 with Mr. Oey. He is most proud of his personal growth and said he is “definitely a different person mentally.” Next year, Albert is looking forward to knowing his way around the school and “being familiar with everything,” he said.

Advice Albert has for incoming freshmen is to, “stay on top of your schoolwork and the fun will come later,” he said. 

Bailey Fronk

For freshman Bailey Fronk, this year has been filled with lots of good memories of her time spent in the theater acting in all three productions that were put on this year. Fronk has really enjoyed the theater community and her favorite class this year was Intro to Theater Arts, taught by Mr. Shelton.

The hardest thing for Fronk this year was finding a good group of friends. “Making friends before I found theater, it was really hard to fit in,” she said. “I only had one friend from my past school and I was kind of like a dog following her around.” 

The thing that challenged Fronk the most was “trying to do extracurricular stuff like theater along with all of the work La Salle gives,” she said. “La Salle gives a lot of work, so that was hard.”

The accomplishment Fronk is most proud of this year is “being able to maintain semi-good grades,” she said. 

A lesson Fronk has taken away from this year is that, “Everybody has a unique style and it’s good to stay true to who you are,” she said.  

Some advice Fronk wished she had been told coming into this year is “to make sure to socialize with everyone because you never know what friends you’ll meet in the most unexpected ways,” she said.

Next year, Fronk is looking forward to “being a part of more theater productions and trying to get into more extracurricular activities and meeting new people,” she said. 

One more thing Fronk wanted to say about her first year of high school is, “La Salle is hard. Be prepared,” she said. “But there is a very strong community at La Salle and you’ll be able to find a place and be able to reach out if you need help.”