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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Advice for Incoming Ninth Graders From a Senior

A great way to make friends is through events, clubs or teams. Photo: Sidwell Friends.

It’s finally happening. You’re entering the Upper School, amazed at all the opportunities suddenly coming your way. Maybe it’s a little intimidating to navigate clubs, points, sports and the new environment. Most freshmen feel this way at some point. However, I promise you that you will make it through the first quarter and high school will soon begin to fly by. Here is some advice I wish I had as a freshman:

  1. Get to know your teachers.

Your teachers not only want you to succeed academically but are fascinating people! They can help you navigate your academic path through Upper School and will give you advice on everything from your future career to what nail color goes with your prom dress. Ask them questions about what you find intriguing in their classes; they all have interesting stories. Talking to your teachers makes your classes so much better, and they genuinely do want to help you. Make it a point to take the initiative and start a conversation.

      2. Join some kind of team, even just for a season.

Whether it’s cross country, theater or debate, pick any team and stick with it for a season. As a freshman, I joined the field hockey team. Because my first season was in 2020, we spent most of the year doing socially distanced practices, and our competitive season was an optional month in the spring. Joining field hockey was one of the best decisions I have made at Sidwell, as I became friends with upperclassmen, many of whom I am still in touch with. My teammates gave me advice, greeted me in the hallways and were an amazing group of people who were influential to me throughout the rest of my high school years.

     3. Recognize how interesting your classes are.

Sidwell has such an incredible curriculum. Diving deep into 1800s archives for your sophomore History of South Asia class, performing gene editing using CRISPR, writing English papers on music videos, movies and performances, presenting foreign language plays, geometry proofs, Diptych portraits… I could go on for pages. You’re not going to find that anywhere else. Take advantage of the opportunities Sidwell gives you and be engaged in your classes. Doing so makes the work way more enjoyable, and you will get much more out of your Upper School experience. 

And remember: Upper School is not easy, but you’re doing amazing.

    4. Go to school events. 

Attending sports games, Arts Guild, the play and other school events have been some of my favorite experiences during my time in the Upper School. Go to random performances. Attend club meetings during lunch. If you involve yourself in the Upper School, there are so many fun opportunities waiting. You’re only in high school once, so make the most of it.

    5. Sign up for a bunch of clubs, then try to find a few that are meaningful to you and become passionate about them.

It’s early October, and you’re standing in the courtyard at a loss for words. Dozens of colorful club signs surround you. People behind tables shout promises of free candy. Where do you even start? My advice: sign up for every club that looks even remotely interesting. Medicine club, book club, Model UN, Horizon, FEAT (Friends Environmental Action Team), whatever catches your attention. Over the next couple of months, read club emails, go to meetings at lunch and discover clubs that you especially like. Be proactive by talking to club heads or other people in the club and asking them what more you can do for the club. You could lead a booth at Homecoming or organize a community service project. If you become involved enough, maybe you will someday head the club! It’s great to have a community that you’re a part of throughout your high school career. Also, if there’s a club that you do not see, start one!

    6. Enjoy the journey. It can be messy and stressful, but it is such a great experience.

Sidwell has a reputation for being stressful. Most students can corroborate that. But if you surround yourself with people you like, are proactive in pursuing activities and academic interests and manage your time well, you’re going to have a high school experience like no other. Find strategies to cope with stress: take some time to run or cook or listen to music. Reach out to people. And remember: Upper School is not easy, but you’re doing amazing. 

I know that each one of you is going to have an incredible time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from teachers, counselors and friends. Make friends with students in other grades and people in your classes whom you do not know. Most of all, enjoy high school. Four years will go by so much faster than you think, so savor every moment. You’ve got this.

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About the Contributor
Anya Vedantambe '24
Anya Vedantambe '24, Photo Editor
Anya Vedantambe is currently a Photo Editor for Horizon, a position she held in both the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years. Prior to this, she served as a Staff Writer for the newspaper.
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