How to Succeed in High School

Each year, a new wave of unassuming freshmen enter the unfamiliar waters of high school. The Eagle Eye asked seniors to share what they have learned from their high school experience since their freshman year.

The freshman year is pivotal to both social and academic development. The heavier homework load compared to middle school pushes students to better manage their time. Senior Chambre Mangiarelli said, “I took [school] one day at a time and I made sure to write down all my homework and to stay organized. Your grades count in high school, so tenth grade is the best year to get your life together.” In high school, academic records are wiped clean, and GPAs start at zero. This benefits students who performed poorly in middle school, and provides good students with the chance to improve upon their efforts.

Particularly for new students, joining clubs and extracurricular activities is key to connecting with more people. Senior Chester Hui said, “I played volleyball during freshman year, but since I was still trying to acclimate to high school, I didn’t join any clubs. Looking back, I definitely would’ve joined more clubs. I really enjoy the clubs I’m a part of right now, and I wish I started sooner.”

Like Hui, senior Zoe Farris found that sports helped expand her social circle. She offered up advice for new students saying, “I did both volleyball and paddling, which are both team sports, so I met new people that way. Academically, I found HBA to be much more challenging [than my last school.] I transferred from Our Redeemer, and HBA is definitely more work-intensive. I went to tutoring in the morning since I played sports after school. It’s a great way to get to the know the teachers and to understand the material better.”

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“If you’re not prepared to work [for AP classes], don’t expect to get good grades,”

Senior Jantzen Nakai

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Many seniors will agree that sophomore year isn’t easy either because of its heavier workload. Freshmen with GPAs of 3.5 or higher are able to apply for the National Honor Society at the end of the year. NHS provides students with opportunities to give back to the community and hone their leadership abilities, and doubles as an effective character and resume builder. “Keeping my GPA up was difficult because the workload increased, and for NHS I had to maintain a 3.5, “ said senior Aaron Wong. “However, I still think that it’s worth it to apply for NHS, because the experience is rewarding and unique.”

Although it was strenuous, Hui still found sophomore year enjoyable. Hui explained, “My favorite part of sophomore year would be sophomore camp. It was by far the best camp I’ve been to. You really just have to experience it to understand it.”

If freshman and sophomore years are tough, junior year is known to be grueling. During junior year, students are able to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses. These are college level courses, and students who to take them must be focused and self-motivated. “As a junior, I took three APs: AP World History, AP English, and AP Chemistry. Because of the combined homework load, I’d often only sleep for three or four hours each night. If you’re not prepared to work, don’t expect to get good grades,” warned senior Jantzen Nakai.

Even without AP classes, homework load during junior year can quickly pile up. “Junior year was my worst academic year, because I felt burnt out so I stopped trying. You need to maintain a high level of effort every year, so that during senior year you don’t struggle to raise your grades,” advised senior Shayna Mae.

Junior year is also when students begin their college application process. They can sign up to meet with college representatives who visit HBA, and they can also do independent research. “College fairs are a great place to start [researching], because you learn about a lot of schools and their requirements,” senior Carissa Sugita said. “I recommend starting your college search during sophomore year, so that you can kind of get an idea of which schools carry your major and which academic interests you might want to explore.”

While colleges value good grades, they also look for community service and leadership. NHS, Interact Club, student government and clubs are good places to gain community service hours and interpersonal skills. “I was always a passive person, so I was scared to step out of my comfort zone. When I decided to try class council, I was really apprehensive. However, once I did, I didn’t regret it because it taught me public speaking skills and teamwork,” said senior Shelbi Nakano.

Senior Jordyn Wang points out that high school is a time of hope and learning. “One day when I’m old and boring,” she said, “I know I’ll look back at high school and remember that those years were some of the best of my life. I think that even though school can get overwhelming, it’s important to step back and enjoy life, because we can’t ever get back lost time.”

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