High School Sports

As a senior going into high school, I have taken many opportunities to reflect upon prior high school years, from freshman year, to sophomore year, to the most recent junior year. Even though I have admittedly faced plenty with school, such as homework, tests, and balance with my personal life, I will admit that sports has had a massive impact on my high school experience. Going into freshman year, I had my own club sport and highly debated on whether or not I should do a sport or deal with another round of PE during high school. As a last minute decision due to a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try out for the cross country team and made it on thanks to a decision from one of my coaches.

Although the first semester of my freshman year did not end well due to an early injury that year affecting my first cross country season and feelings of disconnection from a friend group, I grew dedicated to the sport after my recovery and the following Track season that year, despite being cut short due to the coronavirus, had some kind of payoff for me after my injury. However, the lockdown ended up with a disconnection between me and the rest of my team. Although sophomore year did face some setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic, I did end up racing during Track season that year, notably going sub 5 minutes in the 1600m and sub 11 minutes in the 3200m, as well as making more friends on the team. After that year, I had goals to Varsity letter next year in both XC and Track.

During my junior year, I was under plenty of pressure on myself, as well as mental stress balancing heavy schoolwork, personal life, and sports. My XC season was definitely my most successful season yet, as I went 16:16 in the 3 mile race during Sea View League Finals and had the best race of my life that race alongside two of my best friends and teammates, creating a great memory. Following League Finals, my team qualified for CIF, and I had my second favorite race at CIF Finals at the hilly Mt. Sac course with a time of 17:12. Although my Track season did not top my XC season, I did have some good races, such as going under 4:50 in the 1600m and improving by 30 seconds in the 3200m with a time of 10:20.

Even though I had plenty of success throughout my sports career, the truth is that I could not have done a single part of it without my teammates. I ran with them everyday, talked with them, and shared plenty of moments and memories with them to the point where I can honestly say that they are a significant part of my life. Even though we have had struggles and arguments like a team normally does, we have come together and found success last year and look to continue our success to even greater lengths this upcoming year. High school sports has made a huge impact on my life and I’d highly recommend anyone to take high school sports and gain that experience.

Cons of the new bell schedules

In many school districts in California, a new policy has been put into place: school must start before 8:30 AM. Although schools are still permitted to have classes before this time, the time spent in these classes do not count towards the 70000 hours of school each school must have in a year. This change has been especially prevalent in the SVUSD. Schools like Laguna Hills and Trabuco Hills are getting out even as late as 3:45 PM. Although on the surface, starting school later seems like a good idea, it turns out that it isn’t.

The most obvious effect of this is that school ends later. For those who are involved in extracurriculars after school, it makes scheduling after school extremely tight, and some after school activities may even be cut into. These scheduling conflicts can be extremely inconvenient and can interfere with people’s lives outside of school. On top of that, it will encourage students to push their routine later. This will case students to go to bed later and do activities later at night, and therefore wake up later in the morning.

Another effect of this is that classes, especially for the schools that have block schedules, are way longer. Because the state of California requires a certain number of hours that schools need to have in session per year, not counting classes that start before 8:30 means that schools need to have classes that last longer and go later. As a result, students can become more tired and less focused. However, it is worth noting that these longer classes can have benefits, especially in an AP environment, as it simulates the AP testing atmosphere more.

In the end though, pushing school back to 8:30 was a poor change for the students. I write this from the perspective of a student, which is worth noting because I don’t know what it is like from the teacher’s perspective. It is what it is though. Sad face.

Freshmen! Time to Get Involved!

Volunteering helps the community and is a great opportunity for teens to reach out and gain some leadership experience. For incoming freshmen in high school, it is the perfect time to start the first step in becoming involved in your local community and set yourself up for the opportunity to gain leadership experience. For incoming freshmen, I recommend attending your school’s club rush. Every school has different clubs with different unique opportunities. There are some common service-based clubs that most schools have that you should be on the lookout for. 

Key Club International is a student-led volunteer club that has a large community across the nation that is linked together through social media and division-held events. For those in the SoCal area, the key clubs come together to attend the Fall Rally at Six Flags and decorate a float at the Rose Bowl Parade. Key Club has its own student board with positions like Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, President, Historian, and more that are great chances to gain leadership experience.

Another amazing club is the Red Cross Club. The members of this club serve under the internationally recognized American Red Cross. All service events serve under the universal goal of humanitarian help. This organization gives the chance to become involved in and lead blood drives and much more.

Besides becoming involved in clubs on campus, the internet is a great source for finding very interesting and unique service opportunities. Search for local events that are looking for volunteers or create your own event based on a personal passion. One of the best parts of volunteering is that you can focus on certain communities or groups that you feel passionate about. Get in touch with different organizations and find out what you can do or present your own ideas! 

Also one of my favorite and most rewarding volunteer experiences comes from returning to my old elementary and middle school. Find different events that you may have attended when you were younger and volunteer at them! This could be a science fair or orientation. Either way, get back in touch with your old school and see if there are any upcoming events that you could return back to your old school days to help out.

The universal idea is to find a way of volunteering that is interesting and exciting to you. If you love music, find music-based service events. If you love reading, get in contact with the local library. Regardless, when you are starting your high school experience try to find your passion and use it to find a club or organization that interests you and allows you to give back to the community.

Tips to Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination

As a student, musician, athlete, and lazy teenager, I regularly have lots of work to complete. Sometimes in the past, it has piled up due to my astonishing procrastination skills, and I have had to complete it stressfully at the last minute, or not at all. To avoid this, here are some tips to stay focused on your work and to avoid procrastination.

1. Eliminate any distractions. Work in a quiet area and avoid listening to distracting music to maximize your efficiency.

2. Create work plans. To-do lists with deadlines are essential to getting your work done in an organized way, and setting a plan for how you will work at a given time is also important.

3. Take short breaks. To avoid getting burned out by huge workloads, take breaks to refuel your mind and body. However, don’t get carried away! Time your breaks and make sure you get back to work.

4. Reward yourself! To further motivate yourself, give yourself a reward for working hard for a certain amount of time, completing a task, or just being productive in general.

In summary, procrastination is a huge roadblock for productivity and focus. Luckily, we can avoid it with these helpful tips! Hope this helps!

-Lam T.

Advice from a graduating senior

Graduating from high school can be scary. Senior year is tough, especially with the idea looming in the back of everyone’s heads that they’re leaving. The same happened to me. Everyone is so worried about leaving that I feel like sometimes, they miss the things that are right in front of them. 

I started out senior year worried that by the end of it, I wouldn’t feel like I had done enough during high school. So, I set out to do all the senior activities that I wouldn’t have done the previous years. I found my group of friends who wanted to do the activities too and we did them together. That is the best advice I can give to incoming seniors. Do the things that you only get to do senior year.

I became so much closer with my friends who were at all these events. I was able to get more pictures with my friends than I ever have. We got the most out of the events that we knew wouldn’t happen in college. Doing all the “senior” things let me enjoy and relax more. I found I was less worried about homework even when I knew I didn’t have any. Getting to have fun at these events let me focus more on other things because I was more relaxed in general. 

Overall, as a senior who is graduating in a short couple of days, I would say to use the most of your last year with your “high school friends.” Senior year is special in the fact that there are so many events just for your class. It’s one of the last times everyone from all the different friend groups will get together to have fun. So enjoy it and have an amazing senior year, whenever it may be!

-Danielle B.

The Easy Ways to Escape Boredom

Now that summer is coming up I know that I will eventually get bored and sit scrolling on TikTok for hours on my bed. But come on, there are better and more productive ways to fill the time than mindless scrolling. I admit I also can spend hours on my phone even if I know that I am not gaining anything or even being entertained in some cases. I then develop the ick feeling of being bored, unproductive, and tired that most of you have probably gone through.

One way to get rid of that feeling when it seems like there is nothing to do is to reorganize or redecorate my room. Go through all your photos  and print them out to arrange on your walls or orientate your furniture. You can put together a collage or bulletin board with random things around your room or redo your bulletin board as I do. Then wipe down all your counters and vacuum your floor so your room is fresh, clean, and has a new atmosphere. Sometimes to get rid of the ick feeling of boredom, cleaning your room to perfection is the trick. 

Sometimes if it gets really bad, I give myself a mini spa day. Start with taking a long refreshing shower or bath, deep conditioning your hair by doing a hair mask. Then leave the shower and complete a skincare routine. Put on a face mask or moisturizer so your face will feel clean and fresh. Next up, give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or both. You use your hands and feet every day, freshen them up and it will feel great. 

When laying on your bed on your phone, force yourself to stand up and do a workout. This doesn’t have to be a high-intensity weightlifting workout. Do some yoga and meditation by finding different videos on YouTube. Yoga and meditation help clear the mind and stretch out your body that has been sitting down for hours. For all those people with lingering stress, yoga will help relieve a lot of the tension built up in your body. Or go for a walk or light jog outside or on a treadmill, giving yourself some fresh air and also forcing your body to be active. Although it will be painful to start, once your workout, whatever it may be, is over, you will feel much better.

I know most of these suggestions seem very basic, but when someone is addicted to their phone and has been stuck inside for hours, many people develop this gross feeling that is hard to go away. Over time, I have found that completing these different activities can help motivate me and honestly get rid of that gross feeling.

-Lilly G.

Diversifying the English Curriculum: Representation in Literature

If you ask a group of high schoolers what they read in their English Lit. class, you’ll most likely hear very similar answers from all of them: A Tale of Two Cities, Shakespeare, The Great Gatsby, A Christmas Carol, the list goes on. For decades, most of what students read in their English classes has been the same.

While it is important to read and analyze classics such as the ones mentioned, many schools disregard representation in the chosen books for this said motive. When taking a look at the demographics of the authors that have written most of the books in the high school curriculum, you’ll find that almost all of them are men, and almost all of them are white. This results in many students’ English class experience being Euro-centric and lacking in diversity.

In my own high school career, I have only read one book written by a woman (out of 8, currently) and no books written by any POC authors. Writing is my passion, and while I hope to one day be able to use that in my career, it’s discouraging to not see a more diverse range of people representing this career path.

Not only is the diversity of authors important, but also the content that is in these books. A less diverse pool of authors means that the stories read will most likely not contain many different cultures and points of view. One of the main aspects of literature is being able to resonate with the story, and without diverse authors, many high school readers are left feeling disconnected from the lesson and unrepresented in their classroom.

Another important aspect is being introduced to new cultures. This is especially important in schools that are lacking in diversity. Being exposed to different values, religions, and ways of life in general through literature prepares teens for the world, and teaches them to be respectful toward others that have different lifestyles than they do. It helps to be knowledgeable of other beliefs besides one’s own, but this isn’t possible if English classes’ works of literature do not represent a wide variety of cultures.

We live in a world that is quickly changing, a lot for the better. English classes need to reflect this change and update curriculums so that students can learn from and resonate with what they’re reading.

-Luxi B.

Coping with Stress and Emotions

Lately, in my personal life, I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and emotional mood swings, so I thought I’d share how I’m dealing with it. As a teenager growing physically and emotionally every day, I’ve recently been feeling a lot of confusing and unexplainable emotions. I’ve also been extremely stressed with school and the excessive workloads I’ve had to deal with, especially as the school year begins to come to a close.

With the help of all my loved ones, I’m doing much better now and I’m really enjoying myself amidst all the homework and stress. Without further ado, here are four ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions.

1. Write it down! When you are feeling stressed or confused, try writing it down on paper, whether it’s in a long paragraph of thought, a free verse poem, angry bullet points, or indecipherable scribbles. It feels great to release your thoughts and emotions, and you can really get creative with a pen to paper. Also, you can just throw away or shred up the paper later!

2. Talk to someone about it! One thing I’ve realized is that keeping secrets to yourself will not help. Bottling up emotions just consumes you and makes you feel so much worse, and you will feel disconnected or isolated from your loved ones. Mine have always been there for me, and I’ve found that they definitely have my back, and I can trust them and just have a nice long talk about my life with them. Talking to someone you love is a huge help.

3. Do something/find something you love! One of my favorite ways to spend my free time is listening to music. I love music because it puts me in a good mood and takes my mind off of whatever is going on at the moment. Do something that makes you happy, like reading a book or watching a nostalgic movie!

4. Don’t get distracted from your work! When you’re doing homework or trying to get something done, don’t let yourself be distracted. I’ve found that in the past, having my phone beside me when I’m working is an extremely unproductive arrangement. Every time I get a notification, I pick up my phone and can’t put it down for a long time. Recently I have been putting my phone far away from me when I work, and I’ve been so much more productive. Also, in the cases that I am productive and get a lot of work done, I’m really happy with myself and I allow myself to feel good and have a good day.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

-Lam T.

Managing Stress

As finals and AP season is fast approaching, it can become an increasingly stressful time for high schoolers. With the school year coming to a close, events are being crammed at the last minute and there isn’t much time for things outside of work. With so much to do, it can be hard to find time to relax and make sure that we as students aren’t getting too stressed out and overworked.

With finals happening at the end of May and AP testing at the beginning, it can be hard during April for students to find time off. Yes, we do get Spring Break, but even that is spent studying for tests that we have when we come back. Some things I do to try and make things easier is always setting a schedule for myself the day before. I try not to put too much on my plate at once, knowing that I will most likely not be able to get it done.

I also work on trying to make sure that I do the work as soon as it is assigned rather than letting it pile up. Typically, teachers give multiple days to do assignments. The issue with that is that they’re easier to put off until the last minute. Doing the assignments the day they are assigned, rather than the day they are due, means that I have more time later on in the day or week to do things that I want to do for myself.

I also try to always create a group of people in each class that I can reach out to if I need help studying for something. Though I sometimes think I understand it, my friend might have a different way at looking at something that makes more sense. This also allows me to be social because I can study and hang out at the same time. 

The next few months can be overwhelming, but if we as students just try to get the work done when we get it and focus on what we can control, it will be less stressful. Having a good school support system is always good, so that you can keep being social while also getting things done for school.

-Danielle B.

College Stress: Tips While You Wait for Decisions

Applying to colleges is stressful. But what many don’t tell you is that waiting to hear back, and then having to pick a college, is even worse. I was lucky enough to hear back from my dream school in December. But many of my friends don’t have that same luxury. Though we all finished our applications around the same time, many of them have to wait until March to hear back from all their schools. After that, they then have to go through the process of which school you want to go to.

On top of the stress of the waiting game to hear back from schools, you’ll have people at every corner telling you whether or not you should go to this school or that. Everyone around you is lobbying for their favorite. Parents, of course, usually want their kids to stay close by. Relatives are hoping you’ll be near them. It can be hard to block out the people around you and figure out what you truly want for yourself.

When you have more than one top school, it can be hard to find the one for you. I always recommend that my friends visit the schools they are most interested in. That way, they can get a feel of the campus as well as some of the people they will be surrounded with for the next four years of their lives. On top of that, make sure you do really good research on the living situations, meals, and transport on campus.

I found that the two most important things when I was picking a school were extracurricular activities and job opportunities. I wanted to make sure that I had fun on campus and would have things to do outside of just going to school and the occasional football game. Perhaps even more important than that was that I would be able to get job experience while on campus, whether it be internships or even just making connections with people in my industry. 

So even though college can be stressful, hopefully you have some tips to help you pick the right school and relax a little while you wait for colleges to return their decisions. 

-Danielle B.