Graduating seniors share most important advice to underclassmen

Do your homework, but make space for friendships and fun


Photo courtesy of Nicholas Hernandez; Design By Kaitlyn Magallon

Kaitlyn Magallon, Multimedia Editor

As a freshman, it can be exciting to begin a new journey. Adapting to a new environment may be difficult for some, or it can be easy. 

By now, seniors know what high school can be like as a freshman, and although for everyone it varies, three seniors share their hopes for freshmen.  

The last four years of high school have had an impact on these seniors and, from beginning to end, they can all say they’ve accomplished something. 

Nicholas Hernandez ‘21 is on the path to finishing high school strong and learning as he continues to go on this journey. 

“There was definitely a lot of trial and error, not just in school, but in my personal life,” he said. “And just the fact that I’m even today still capable of going on and still working my best to accomplish this goal graduating.”  

High school for everyone is different, as these seniors noted, and experiences vary. 

“Overall, I feel that it was good. I had a good amount of fun, a good amount of focus on school and learning, and it was just like a good experience for me. The way it played out was good for me,” said Kallista Rodarte ‘21.

Photo courtesy of Kallista Rodarte; Design by Kaitlyn Magallon

Rodarte has had many things that contributed to her high school experiences such as clubs, friends, sports, and even teachers. She’s had a lot of opportunities given to her, many friendships she was able to make, and academically she was on a strong path with being in the school’s International Baccalaureate classes.. 

Becoming more involved with the school has helped Rodarte make new friends and actually enjoy going to school. She tried to take almost every opportunity she got offered, which not only helped her contribute to the school but also helped her create more bonds between new people. 

“I joined MEChA, CSF, FCA, the 16 hundred club, but that didn’t like last that long,” she said. “But, I just joined like a bunch of random ones and they were just whole other communities,” she said. 

These communities were people she met in clubs that all had helped her learn more about the clubs she was in. 

MEChA taught her more about her culture, while CSF helped her learn about how to raise money for college. FCA was a little community where athletes got together and just had fun. Overall, the clubs she was in made her feel like she was learning more. 

Within each club, she learned something new. They all taught her about not just these different aspects of the club but also helped her create more conversations with the people she began to know. 

These clubs all helped her build bonds within different communities.

“It was just like a whole bunch of different communities that I had like all these people in classes I knew now. It would like start conversations and get you way more involved and have like way more friends overall,” said Rodarte. 

As for Hernandez, it’s been a mixture of different things. His high school experience has been an up and down roller coaster. High school has definitely taught him a few things and one of them being is that you just have to do anything you have to do to get by. 

Hernandez said that his high school experience is something he’ll remember.  

“Personally, I feel like it’s different for everybody; but for me, it was something I’ll definitely remember. There were very many good experiences and bad experiences: stress and then no stress, like, you know, a mix of a bunch of things,” he said. 

Gallegos describes her high school experience to be a good one overall.  

“The past few years have gone by extremely fast, like, way faster than I thought it would be. There were a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of friends that like came and went,” she said.  “To sum it up, it was so much fun and I’ve just grown so much with my friends that stayed around and I think it was just a good overall experience like getting to grow with the people that stayed around.”

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Gallegos; Design by Kaitlyn Magallon

The friends she got to grow with as the years went by all helped make her high school experience better. Not only did she grow with them but she learned through them as well. 

The friends Gallegos made are what have helped her get through high school.

She said, “What got me through high school was knowing that I could always rely on my friends. They were always there for me no matter the day. If I was sad, if I was happy, they were always there to just hype me up or cheer me on. It was just really nice knowing that they were there at the end of the day.”

Through the ups and downs that were faced in high school, these seniors still found a way to keep going and push themselves to become better. 

“That’s when it got like the hardest kind of. Junior year and senior year were like the two hardest years but that’s when I started reaching out more and I got in a bunch of clubs,” she said. 

These clubs offered different types of opportunities and experiences, she said, that also allowed her to get to know her friends in different ways. 

Teachers have also made an impact on these students and have helped shape their high school experience. 

“The teachers who have made an impact on me over my past four years will be [Jacqueline] Ptak, [Marcie] Borchard, and [Brian] Gleeson. They were just always such happy people no matter the day,” said Gallegos. “They were always such high spirited and I was always excited to go to their class. They just made high school a little bit better.” 

Hernandez says that his former teachers helped him a lot. These teachers contributed to making Hernandez’s high school experience become easier knowing they were there to help him. 

“I would have to say Ms. [Stephanie] Smith, she was my sophomore year English teacher, and Ms. Samantha Clifford, my journalism teacher.” 

Both of them helped with his writing skills, especially being a part of journalism. Hernandez mentioned that being a part of journalism helped him develop better writing skills and to ask better questions. 

He also said that his former freshman math teacher also left an impact on him. “I would have to say Mr. [Tyler] Salisbury, my freshman year math teacher,” who helped him become more confident.

“He genuinely understood when I would need help. If I didn’t get something, he would just re-teach it to me and wouldn’t ask questions,” he said. “He wouldn’t say like, ‘I just showed you this’ or like, ‘I just did this.’ He would take his time with me and that eventually made me feel so confident in myself.” 

Rodarte says that a majority of her teachers have all made an impact on her and have helped her high school experience be a little more joyful. 

For Rodarte, it was Kelly Becker, a social studies teacher at the high school.  

“I had her for like two years. She’s my IB economics teacher right now, and then she was my world history honors teacher. She’s just like, I don’t know how to explain it,” she said, She’s such a normal person. She doesn’t act like some teacher that has to like to give you homework.” 

Through it all, these seniors have had many things to reflect on over the last four years, and now it’s time to leave some advice behind for their younger peers.

Hernandez said, “The only thing you can do in those four years is to be present.” He said that students should work towards being present and working towards getting things done.

Hernandez worked hard to achieve his goals and just kept himself going to finish high school strong. There may have been some trials and errors, but he still managed to make the best of his four years in high school. 

“Hopefully, everything goes well for you and, you take it more seriously than us other people did,” he said. 

Despite all the trials and errors, Hernandez faced through high school, he still managed to keep going. His hopes for freshmen are to just be there and keep accomplishing their goals. He leaves behind that they should not take the time you have in school for granted. 

As for Rodarte, she encourages freshmen to get out there more and become more involved. Being a part of clubs and sports has helped Rodarte over the years and she hopes freshmen can do the same. Even just being a part of one club will help you get through high school and just enjoy it a little more.  

“Make sure you’re a part of at least one club because you’re not gonna regret it,” she said “ You’re going to meet so many people and they’re going to make you want to go to school. It’s going to make you excited and you’ll have something to focus on other than just the [academic] part of the school.” 

Gallegos leaves behind that students just have to make the most of their four years of high school—whether it is branching out and getting more involved with the school or even just attending a sports game. It’s a philosophy that Gallegos has lived by her whole high school experience.  

“My advice is to join that sports team, join that club, and get involved. Go to that football game, please go to that football game. Go to that party, enjoy yourself, and make the most of it,” said Gallegos. “You just need to stay on your homework and stuff, but still, you need to have a good time.”