Note from Mr. Cullinane:
I asked my wonderful students in 8th period Senior Seminar to give thoughtful advice to future Senn freshmen. Here is what they wrote:
My biggest mistake and advice deals with procrastination. I over think and panic which makes me not want to do the assignment. Then it is too late, and I have to finish everything night before, turn it in late, or even take a zero depending on the assignment. Balance is key, you have to take time out for school and you. Have days where you enjoy time with your family and friends and days where you relax with Netflix or a good book. You also need days where you focus on school. Even with this advice you might have to pull all nighters. If you work hard the benefits will be great. If you do your work and keep your grades up you can get into more colleges and gain more scholarships. I know you just got here and college seems far away but the day will be here soon. Do not overthink but take time for yourself and school.
On the other hand, I do not want to leave you with mistakes, there are things I did right. I joined a lot of clubs like Restorative Justice, Student Council, and Senn Ambassadors. You should join some extra curricular activities whether it’s a club, sport, volunteering, or such. You will meet people that will be with you on this four-year journey that will influence you for the better. You will grow, you will make mistakes but also do a lot of things you are proud of.
–Nibah Khan (future UIC attendee, studying English and Psychology)
I placed hanging out with friends first and my homework second, which really did affect me because I had to make up these classes by taking night school and summer school. Much of my free time was gone down the drain because I didn’t want my “friends” to think I was lame for going straight home to do my homework. I regret not taking freshman and sophomore year as serious as I should have. I wish I could go back and change what I did. I shouldn’t of cared what my “friends” had to say about me. And, of course, I always tell my younger brother to take notes no matter what because they really do help you. Notes are and will continue to be my best friend. Now that I’m going off to college I will place my education first, then go out and have fun.
–Concepcion Suarez (future Malcolm X College attendee, aspiring dental assistant)
My biggest downfall in high school was procrastination and laziness, which affected my grades. My freshman year was the most fun year for me, but I let hanging out with my friends after school rather than going home to do homework influence my behavior. I learned how to balance everything out after my freshman year and received good grades then on. I completed two years of IB and passed my AP History class with a B at the end of it all, which made me very proud of myself. I did well enough in high school to get myself into a good college, but I could’ve done better.
If I could start high school all over again, I would definitely become more active in sports and other clubs Senn offered. I don’t think I participated enough in the school events, also. I never attended a dance, a football game, nor any of the Homecoming dances because I would always say to myself “It’s going to be lame,” then go out with friends and do something else. Now I have no great high school dance experiences to share with others. Lastly, I would take my grades more seriously because in fact, if I worked hard enough, I could’ve made straight A’s and received many scholarships to help me pay for college. Besides all of the negatives, I enjoyed my time spent in high school.
–Zacuria Jackson (future Illinois State attendee)
Over the course of four years, I have been to a total of 3 high schools, so this will be my first, and only, year at Senn. For any freshman who worry about making friends, I understand. With my experience in switching schools so often, I’ve learned that the easiest way to make friends in a new place is just be yourself no matter what. Moving right along to another big issue, it was always a struggle for me to keep up with my grades throughout all the chaos that ensued after starting high school, and during it as well. Know that grades don’t define you! However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to keep them up, but a grade you don’t like here and there isn’t the end of the world. It’s okay to make mistakes, and you shouldn’t condemn yourself for them.
The academic part of high school aside, I definitely understand how stressful this atmosphere can and will be. What you can do to avoid high-stress situations is associate with people who will lift you up rather than bring you down. If you surround yourself with positive people, you will be more positive overall. But, if the going gets tough, just remember to stay strong and understand that things will get better, because nothing is permanent. However, if someone is having a toxic effect in your life, do the smart thing and cut them out. You’re allowed to decide who is in your life and who isn’t, so do what will make your life better in the end.
–Melissa Harbin (future Harold Washington attendee)
Working hard will only benefit you in the end. Slacking off and not doing your homework and studying is not a good idea. When I’ve chosen not to study, that has put me into a big hole and that hole was dark and deep. Class participation is something that helped me throughout high school because you learn a lot by participating in class. Befriend your teachers no matter what. Remember at the end of the day they have your grade in their hands, so you need to keep them close, but you don’t have to suck up to them.