It only gets better from here


Sidney Kuyper

Sr. Robert Hendriks sits down at his kitchen table, calculator in hand. In all his years of high school, not once did he ever think the math classes he took had a purpose. But here he is, calculating how he’s going to pay for his gas, his phone repairs, and his concert ticket for next weekend.

   But now he can finally put that math class to use. Hendricks might be stressed about everything he has to figure out how to pay for, but at least he doesn’t have to stress about the importance of those hours of studying math.

Hendricks understanding that what he learned finally had a use is just one of many examples of how things really do get better throughout high school. Freshman, know this to be true: Don’t worry if everything feels challenging in your first year; it only gets better.

  As you grow academically, you start doing more extracurriculars and taking more advanced classes. These classes compare to those such as ninth grade English like no other, and really get you to ponder your reasons to live. Bringing home stacks of homework every night really adds joy to your day after a while. I mean, what’s not to love about staying up all night just to finish your homework? 

  “The best thing about junior year is staying up so late I get to watch the sunrise in the mornings. When those golden rays shine onto my AP Calculus homework, it’s like it’s God or someone telling me I got that problem right,” Mitchell O’connell (JR.) says.

   “I think one time mid-winter during my junior year in high school I got so behind on sleep I actually started hallucinating. I made so many new friends during that time. My favorite, and someone I’ll never forget, was kind of a mix between a penguin and a giraffe. His name was Francis,” West Ottawa alumni, Hector Norman, tells us.

   Another factor that adds to the joy of being an upperclassmen is varsity sports. Because freshmen are the only grade allowed on the freshman team and freshman and sophomores are the only grades allowed on junior varsity, the access to spots on the team are almost easy. What’s the fun in knowing you’ll make the team? Why would you want that reassurance when you could be a junior or senior and compete with all the other grade levels to get a spot on the team. 

   Then when you don’t make the team that you’ve been training for over the past nine years, you will suddenly have a ton of free time to catch up on your favorite show, eat Pringles, and become a better you.

   And for the few who did make it, the joy continues while waking up for morning practice at 5 a.m., when your entire body feels like it’s decomposing at the roots, but you’re fueled by the thought that if you skip one thing, you won’t get a minute of playing time the next two weeks. 

   Not that half of us see the court/field anyways. Jana Mccoy, a recently graduated WO student, said, “My entire junior and senior year combined I think I got 5 minutes of total playing time in basketball. I didn’t even go in on senior night. I was a senior!” 

   Best friends are hard to come by. It’s nice when that bench becomes your best friend, and sooner or later, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a cushion made from traditional foam, fiber, or gel layers.  

   Also, you know those people freshman year who you can’t stand? You hope and pray every day that they move schools just so you don’t have to see them at school everyday? Well, they don’t. So look forward to seeing them for the next three years because it doesn’t happen. 

   But it’s a good thing, if you think about it. It’s a way to build character. What better way to do so than to spend time with people you detest? You get the opportunity to grow your patience levels and practice self control by resisting the urge to punch them in the face. 

   And what comes next? College. All the hard work and stress that you went through the past four years, just to end up at the same state school as the kid you sit next to in math with a 2.3 GPA. But all that hard work wasn’t for nothing because now you know how superior you are to the rest of the kids walking through campus. Even though no one else knows, you do.

   So taking those AP classes and stressing about exams and homework wasn’t for nothing, because now you get the privilege of knowing you’re better than your new roommate who had to go to summer school. 

   To all the freshmen out there, we understand jumping into high school is a difficult adaptation, but it gets so much better. Just think about all the things to look forward to.