Graduating Seniors Offer Advice to Underclassmen


Catie Cho, Editor in Chief

High school can be a really scary place. Suddenly, you’re released from the safe, hand-holding of middle school, and are thrust into the claws of a new challenge: Hastings High School. Of course, there are great things about being in high school, like the increased independence that students gain. And yet, students might initially balk at the homework load, challenging academic level, or new environment. Two seniors, Cara Novak and Ben McNulty, offered their advice to incoming freshmen—and all HHS students—on how to handle high school. 

Academically, Cara expressed the importance of hitting the ground running from the start of 9th grade . “Freshman year is a great opportunity to do really well because there are really no advanced classes,” she said. “I refer to it as a cushion year for grades because when it gets hard to earn higher grades in classes come junior year, you have your freshmen grades to bounce off of.” 

Overall, Ben’s advice for freshmen focused on exploring the school culture and trying new things. “There are tons of sports teams that you can join, instruments you can play, and clubs that are open to anyone,” he suggested. “Explore and experiment as much as possible throughout your four years as a high school student.”

Ben, like Cara, also discussed the increasingly advancing academic level students encounter as upperclassmen. He especially emphasized the importance of using the activity period (2:45-3:15) to meet with teachers. He said, “Utilize the after school time as much as possible… I guarantee that all of your teachers will be more than happy to help you after school.” 

In terms of mental health, Cara emphasized the importance of a school-life balance. “Academics and social life go hand in hand,” said Cara. “There are ways to be successful in both aspects of your life without heavily prioritizing one over the other.” Ben reflected on Hastings’s accepting environment, saying that “Hastings is a very accepting community where you can truly be yourself.” 

However, both Cara and Ben had suggestions for the school administration. Although Cara has felt “well supported” by HHS and her teachers, “There are definitely people who do not feel the same way.” For the future, Cara implored the school to “put less emphasis on the idea that college is the path to success while it is not the only option.”

Ben, on the other hand, wished he had the opportunity for more field trips. “Other schools do [trips] twice a year, or even more frequently.” Without Covid, “I would’ve gone on only four trips throughout my entire high school career.” Still, Ben knows the school has been “super supportive of music, sports, and everything else that I wanted to do, and I’m very grateful for that.”