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Guide based off of student interviews to aid eight grade students in the
transition from middle school to high school
Olivia Szendey
Senior Exhibition
Spring 2014

Your first day of school outfit has been picked out for weeks; and ladies, lets
be real youve tried it on in your bathroom mirror on multiple occasions.
Youve got a billion worries running through your head like will I fit in with
the upperclassmen will I make friends or even will girls like me. But no
fear! Im here to walk you through the ever-so-intimidating first day of high

The Night Before
If you are bringing a lunch, have it packed.
Set your outfit out to avoid scrambling in the morning.
Pack your bag, but do not pack too much! The first day
all you really need is a notebook, some pencils/ pens, a
calculator or your summer reading novel depending if
you have English or math first semester. (See chapter
two for more details on the freshmen backpack and
how to avoid it.)
Make sure you have your summer reading completed.
While some teachers barely use the books, others go
into depth with the summer work and you do not want
to start off on the wrong foot!
Set an alarm for the morning. Personally I need to set
five alarms but do whatever you need to ensure you
wake up on time!

Teachers First

The Morning of
Wake up on time.
Have a big breakfast; your teachers might not be happy if you
snack during class time.
Allow your parents to take those first day of high school
pictures. Although they might annoy you now, they are fun to
look back on senior year to see how much you have changed!

Before School Starts

My biggest worry as I walked
into AHS for the first time was
where I would find my friends
in the morning. I texted my
friends as I walked in to meet
up! Senior, Female
Although the first day might be a bit out-of-whack, your
friend group will eventually settle and be in the same
location every morning. Often times that is the library, the
caf, or the Freshmen hallway, located in the back of
the second floor where most freshmen lockers are.
It may be helpful when you get to school to walk around
with your friends to attempt to orient yourself and figure
out where some of your classes might be.

Each class is 82 minutes long, which in comparison to the 45 or 60 minute classes you had in
middle school may seem extremely long. In fact, its not! Teachers design their curriculum to
fill out the allotted time and 45 minutes will soon seem too short.
Navigating the halls of a foreign building may seem a little difficult, but no worries because
AHS is actually really easy to navigate. The first number of a given room correlates to the
floor the class is on. Once you get onto the correct floor, the school is just a square and if you
wander the perimeter you will eventually find your room. There are a few classes in the
middle hallway of each square. If your room number is high like in the 80s there is a chance
you will find it there. The first week of school teachers understand if you run late because
you simply could not find their classroom. But, in my experience, I have never had trouble
finding a room. Stick to the rule of thumb of walking around the square though, you do not
want to be the freshmen carrying a map around.
On the first day of school most classes will spend a lot of time going over classroom
procedures and policies. There might be some activities related to course work for example in
math your teacher might have you do a review worksheet. All of your teachers are simply
trying to help you assimilate into high school.

For me, this was the most nerve wracking part of my entire day. My middle school
experience was that only your grade would be in the same lunch together, so I was always
with my friends. But, in high school all grades are split between the four lunches. Despite my
original fears, everything ended well.
During first block your teacher will generally pass around the lunch schedule. Sometimes this
schedule is passed around through social media before the start of school. On this schedule it
will list the four lunches and the teachers names of the classes that will be attending a given
lunch. Simply look for your teachers name and after first block you can text your friends to
see if you will have lunch together.
If none of your friends seem to be in your lunch, there is still no reason to worry! You might
find someone in your third block class to sit with. If not, once you get down the cafeteria the
first 10 minutes of the lunch block will be spent with a lot of people wandering around
looking for who to sit with, what table to sit at, etc. You will find someone you are
comfortable with enough to sit with.
Do not worry about not being in lunch with your best friends, this is such a great opportunity
to become friends with people you might not be as close with.
As far as food goes, some people bring lunch and some people buy it. What you want to do is
completely up to you. Every day the cafeteria offers a hot lunch option which varies, pizza,
wraps. At the snack bar underneath the stairwell in the caf closest to the Collins center you
can find popcorn, smoothies, bagels, premade salads, etc.
The cafeteria has options to recycle trash with bottles, liquids, compost, and regular trash.
Please, respect the school and clean up your trash once you are done eating.

Free and Reduced

All through middle school I remember hearing scary rumors about the
workload in high school. Much to my dismay, I found those rumors to be true.
There will be sleepless nights and stressful weeks, but you can get through it.
Tackling the academics is tough but absolutely doableand I am here to help

Unlike middle school, you actually get a say in the
classes you take. This gives you a lot of freedom to
explore your own interests.
Take a class because the course matter interests you, not
because all of your friends are taking it
Take a risk: sign up for something that might be
challenging to you or not in the scope of anything you
have ever done before.
Take advantage of half credit courses and electives, the
school has so many great options and the class selection
is only improving.
Challenge yourself: would you rather get an easy A in a
level two or struggle to get an A in a level one? Keep in
mind how much time you have to work on a class given
your afterschool schedule as well as what will look
more competitive when applying to colleges.

Sleep Versus Workload
The biggest transition from middle school to
high school is going to be your workload and
afterschool time. You might find yourself
consumed with sports and activities and not get
home until late only to have a pile of homework
to do; it does not matter if youre tired, you still
have to do it.
I am a big fan of sleep, and in middle school I
would be in bed by 10 every night. High school
however, I did not have that opportunity. There
would be nights where I would find myself
awake at odd hours studying or writing papers
In my interviews I performed in preparing for
this guide, the best advice I think I heard was
Study when youre awake, if you need to take a nap,
take a nap.-Senior, Female.
You need to learn your body, your mind, and
how you function best in exhaustion. There are
going to be many occasions throughout high
school where you simply do not have time to get
the 8 hours of sleep your body demands while
doing well academically. You are going to have
to sacrifice one way or another.
I have friends who will stay up until 3 am doing
homework; I have others who will take a 20
minute nap and then power through homework.
I know if I take nap though, I will not wakeup
It took me almost four years to figure out how I
function best. I find I lose an attention span after
11pm and I end up very distracted and spend
more time scrolling through the internet than I
do on my homework. So, I now always go to
bed by 11pm, and instead wakeup at 4 or 5am to
complete what I need to. I work better after a
refreshing sleep.
This works for me, but it does not work for
everyone, it is important to find in what kind of
environment you study best in and understand
that if want to excel at Andover High School, it
is almost inevitable that you will have to
sacrifice sleep time.

Do it.
As I said before, do it.
Even if you think your teacher will not be
checking it, do it.
I am not sure if I can stress this enough, do
your homework. No, not in the class before
or rush through. Do it at home and take your
time. Teachers actually assign homework for
a reason; it keeps you prepared for exams.
Pop quizzes are something you should
always expect. Not all teachers give them
but they are something to always be
prepared for. You do not want to be caught
off guard.
If you keep up with your homework, even if
your teacher never checks it, it will save you
in the long run. You will not be as stressed
out for tests or for the final because you will
have been working at the material for a
longer amount of time. In the long run,
doing your homework regularly encodes the
material in your memory better than
cramming for a test the night before will.
Not doing your homework will severely hurt
you if your teacher checks it. But doing it,
on the other hand, can help you.
I was never very good at math, and I never did
that great on the tests or quizzes. But, my
teacher did count homework for 15% of our
grade. I made sure to do my homework every
night and because of that I did so much better in
the class than I should have. Junior, Male.
Homework is easy points, dont lose them.

(Child Sleeping)

Extra Help
Do not be afraid to ask for it.
Be sure to ask for it before it is too late
Even if you think you understand the
material, it is often helpful for a teacher to
go over your homework with you as you do
it or read through an essay outline in order
to ensure you are on the right track.
Other than your teachers, you can seek out
help from classmates, NHS members, or
AP tutors.
You have no say in what teacher you have
for a class, so first off do not waist your
guidance counselors time.
Ignore biases.
I went into my english class junior year
expecting it to be horrible because so many
people told me my teacher was absolutely
nasty; that class ended up being one of my
favorites. I absolutely loved that teacher and
she even wrote my college recommendation
Senior, Male.
Just because a teacher works for one person
does not mean they will work for everyone.
Everyone has different learning styles and
different personalities. Do not base your
decision of a teacher based off of what
other people tell you, especially when it is
on the negative side.
Get to know your teachers, they are
friendly people. Talk to them; ask them
how their day is. It is important to make
connections to the staff freshmen year, its
nice to see those friendly faces of past
teachers in the halls and stop to have a
conversation with them as an
Some of your teachers will end up being
really critical figures in your life.
I do not know how I would have survived last
year without one of my teachers. My family was
going through a lot of changes and she was just
constantly there for support. I look up to her so
much and I plan on still keeping in touch next
year in college Senior, Female.
Making connections with teachers as an
underclassman is something you will be
thankful for.

(Teacher Clipart)

If you are not motivated by some
external or internal factor, your school
work will suffer.
My grades were never bad; they were just not
where they could be. I was not reaching my
full potential. Sophomore year my parents told
me they would pull me from my spring sport if
my grades were not in a certain range. I love
my sport so I worked hard all semester to keep
my grades up. I realized how high my potential
was and receiving such high grades motivated
me to keep working hard. I only wished I
figured out how to work harder earlier on
Senior, Male

College may seem far away, but you
need to start caring about your grades
now. 70% of the students I
interviewed mentioned that they
regretted not trying as hard freshmen
year. Your freshmen grades set the
base for your GPA. They actually
make up 1/3 of the GPA that colleges
will see. If you get the best grades
you can now, your junior self will be
Its simple, find a reason to be
motivated, get the good grades. If you
slack off a bit freshmen year thinking
the grades will come as easy as they
(Sleeping Clip Art)
Psychology tip:
Create incentives: an external stimulus that
motivates behavior.

Internal motivation: completing an activity
because it pleases you
External motivation: completion of
activity because of consequence

The Freshmen Backpack
The freshmen backpack is known as a big bulky backpack
filled to the brim with books. This bag is often seen being
carried around by freshmen, therefore fulfilling its name.
My advice to incoming freshmen? Do not have a freshmen
backpack. One, it looks silly. Two, when I am walking behind you in
the hallway and it hits me I will be mad. Senior, Female.
Use your locker. You will get a lot of textbooks; do not carry
them all around at once. You have plenty of time between
classes take advantage of it in order to keep other students safe
by not hitting them in the hallways, and yourself safe from
back issues.
Purchase a good backpack. I rocked up LL Bean backpack
through junior year but sadly it came to its end and I had to
look into getting a new backpack. I spent a good chunk of
cash on a nice North Face backpack, and it is honestly worth
it. I have noticed that it is in fact slimmer and gives less of a
bulky look, has back padding for a comfortable fit, and a
laptop compartment. Im not saying to get a North Face
backpack, but just keep in mind you carry your backpack
around everywhere, get something sturdy and comfortable that
suits your needs.

The Unofficial Hallway
Do not walk slowly.
Do not stop in the
middle of the hallway.
Do not yell across the
Do not turn around
If you want to talk to
someone, pull off to
the side.
Do not push or shove

Andover High School as well as the general Andover area is a great
environment to explore interests beyond the classroom. The best thing you can
do is take advantage of the opportunities! Do not be afraid to take a risk try out
something new and possibly discover new interests and meet friends along the

With high school seem comes the need for more money
and more responsibility, both of which a job can provide.
Finding a job is not always easy; you might have to fill out
10 applications before even getting an interview. Often the
best time to apply is mid-August when businesses are
hiring for the school year as college kids leave.
You can also look for a job right in your neighborhood and
babysit kids afterschool.
Jobs are often posted at the bottom of the daily bulletin
located on
You do not need to have a job, but it is nice to have an
independent means of earning money.

Sports teams are fun, especially the freshmen teams. They are something that Is easier to
make and a chance to meet a lot of new people and potentially develop a strong passion
towards a sport
I was disappointed at first when I did not make the JV soccer team as a freshmen. But, in the
end it worked out better because I was able to grow really close to a group of girls I might not
otherwise have had the chance to Sophomore, Female.
There are more opportunities for sports than the teams the school offers; Andover youth
services has no cut offerings which give off an extremely inclusive vibe such as ultimate
Frisbee and rugby. Many students also participate in Crew through greater Lawrence or
Essex Rowing as well as dance and other activities.
I wish I had joined the ultimate Frisbee team earlier. I was scared to join freshmen because
my friends thought ultimate was weird. I joined sophomore year and it was the best decision I
ever made, I wish I had not been guided by peer pressure and joined earlier. Junior, Female.
Even if you are not particularly athletic, you can still be involved in sports. Football
games are always a fun social event during the fall season. Andover high school is well
known for their fan section The Jungle, as seen at basketball games.
Whether youre in the crowd cheering, or on the field playing your heart out, athletics are
a great opportunity to meet new people while creating ties within the community as well
explore passions and stay fit.

Music & Theater
Andover high school has an incredible music
department including orchestra, marching band,
concert band, jazz band, pep band, chorus, chamber
choir, and show choir.
Some of these musical opportunities require little
commitment and some require lengthy practice
times. For example, concert band meets only every
other day for the minimum of a semester with 2
concerts in that time span while marching band has
lengthy afterschool practices and many
Music, like sports, requires commitment. If you are
going to participate in a musical group you must be
committed to attend rehearsals and practice outside
of allotted rehearsal times.

In line with AHS music, is the drama
guild. Typically the drama guild has
three shows a year: A fall musical, a
drama festival entry, and a straight
Sophomore year I participated in the pit
band for Fiddler on the Roof. It was a huge
time commitment but it was such a fun
experience it was worth it. The show came out
great and I loved being surrounded by such a
dedicated group of students Senior, male.
Even if you feel your spot is not on the
stage there are plenty of opportunities
to be involved in the music and drama
departments. There is always backstage
help and tech needed to keep the shows
(Soccer Ball)

If youre interested in something, there is more likely a
club for it. If there is not, you can create it!
Andover high school as an incredible amount of club
selections including things like debate club, feminist
club, psychology club, and doctor who club.
Every year I wanted to join student government, and every
year I did not join. I really regret that.-Senior, female.
In the fall there is a club fair during lunch where
members of each club with set up a table outside the
caf. Feel free to walk around talk to members of
different clubs and sign up for things that you think
might interest you.
It cannot hurt to attend a club meeting. If you do not
like it, then you do not have to return; no pressure!
Clubs span a whole range of interests from sporting
activities, music, community service, arts, academics,

Extra-Curricular benefits
Form friendships
Build a resume and be
competitive for colleges
Aids community
Discover passions
Keep yourself busy
Fun stress free
opportunities and outlets
Expand classroom
interests (math team,
debate club, etc).

Mental Health
High school is demanding; academically and
socially. Your mental health will most likely not
always be perfect, but there are ways to counter
balance bad days
Find a support system, people you can go to on
bad days. They could be friends, teachers,
parents, trusted adults, guidance counselors,
coaches, etc.
People told me going into my freshmen year that I
could go to my guidance counselor with personal
issues. I laughed that off as weird, but 3 years later I
found myself in my guidance counselors office many
days ranting and spilling out all of my thoughts. Its not
weird, its helpful Senior, Male.
Discover an outlet. It could be something as
simple as taking a nap, reading a book, working
out, etc. Just make sure it is a helpful one.

(Mental Health).

Dealing with administration
You may have heard rumors of kids getting
suspended for various things and theres a very
simple solution to deal with administration:
follow the rules.
You might like all of the rules, but by obeying
them you will find a smooth high school
You may believe the rules to be fallible but you
should still follow them you do not have the
moral authority to disregard them.
Respect administration and your teachers, they
are essentially in charge of your life for the next

Be on time for class every morning,
there is no reason to be late because
you will only end up in detention.

Do not skip class your teacher will
write you up and you will serve an
office detention.

If you have to miss class for excusable
reasons, let your teacher know. If your
sick send them an email and ask what
you missed; it is a simple gesture that
they tend to really appreciate.
Back to school shopping comes with a lot of thrill and
excitement; enjoy it as a chance to explore your personal
style. Do not buy clothes because you think it is what you
need to fit inbuy clothes you are comfortable in. If you love
dressing nice, then dress nice. If you wear sweatpants and t-
shirts every day, then be comfortable and own that fashion
there is no need to dress in a way that you are not. Dont
waste money on things you will not confidently wear.
When it comes down to it, people do not care how you dress. My
best friend wears t-shirts everyday meanwhile Im decked out in
vineyard vines. Dress in what makes you happy.-Senior, female.
Middle school has a strict dress code, Andover High school
does not. No one walks around to make you change if your
shorts are not fingertip length. Please, keep your clothing
choices classy and appropriate. There is a fine line between
how you might dress to go out to the beach and how you
should dress for school. Please respect yourself and do not
blur that line.

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