A Hybrid Transition: Advice for Freshmen Falcons


Campbell Treschuk

FLHS freshmen tour the hallways during oreintation.

Freshman year can be intimidating as it marks the beginning of a new chapter. Movies and TV shows often depict high school as a scary and intimidating place. In reality, high school is a place to make new friends, explore interests, challenge yourself, and discover community. As incoming sophomores and juniors, we know what that feeling is, and we want to lend a hand to incoming freshmen. Based on our experiences, here is some advice that we would give to you. 

Do not worry about locating your classes. The seemingly innumerable hallways and stairwells can seem intimidating, and this is a normal feeling for all incoming freshmen. Ask for help – upperclassmen are glad to help you find your classes, and teachers are aware that you are still exploring school during the first few weeks. 

COVID-19 and the shift to hybrid and distance learning options have made high school a bigger transition. Most students in high school have selected the hybrid model of schooling – where students attend in person class twice a week. The hybrid schedule emphasizes learning on your own. Though each teacher will conduct classes differently, most teachers tend to post videos and material for students to review by themselves. Class time with the teacher becomes a Q&A session. Independent learning can be daunting, but keep in mind that teachers and students are in this together.

When you’re struggling to understand material, do not be afraid to ask questions or seek extra help. Be proactive and manage your time well. Teachers will respect your effort and offer you help. Upperclassmen who are members of honor societies are also available to help.

Your school counselor can be a great resource if you feel overwhelmed or seek guidance in any matter. The Counselling Center, located next to the security office, is also available for students who are struggling with mental health. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with the school psychologists, social workers, your school counselor, or student assistant counselor by email. 

Many students feel pressure to fill their transcript with classes which may impress colleges. While freshman year course selection is over, remember to balance your mental and emotional health while choosing courses for sophomore year because choosing classes to impress others often results in increased stress and can detract from your enjoyment of high school.

Take classes which interest you personally, since FLHS offers countless fun elective classes. Be sure to take classes in your passion areas, and take the opportunity to explore new interests. On top of fun classes, there are a slew of unique clubs and afterschool activities. Normally, there would be a 20 minute club meeting held every Wednesday morning at school, but with the pandemic and cohorts, things might be a little different. Make sure to check out the Activity List to find a club of interest!

In addition to clubs and academic activities, FLHS also offers a variety of sports. Norah Weber, a junior on the swim team, says that “the swim team is a pretty accepting place and it’s a great way to stay in shape… but there’s still a lot of commitment that goes into joining and staying on the team.” Athletics at the high school level require a large time commitment. However, you gain the opportunity to stay physically active, meet new people, and participate in school spirit. Please keep in mind that sports will be different this year. 

Unlike middle school, you have almost a complete choice over the classes and electives you take in high school. This means that you will generally be in elective classes with people who have similar interests  to you. When you enter high school, keep an open mind about making friends. Don’t limit yourself to the friends you had in middle school, and try to make new friends in your classes and lunch waves. Over time, an attitude of acceptance will lead to many new friendships. However, also be open minded to people with different interests and perspectives.

Although it sounds cliché, be yourself. It may be difficult at first, but doing so will help you find the most genuine friends that enjoy being with you, not a fake version of you. As the year goes by, you might pick up friends along the way. Just go with the flow, and be willing to branch out.

You spend 85 minutes in every class, so knowing people in your classes and making friends with them can ease the transition to high school. Electives are a perfect opportunity to interact with fellow students. The FLHS music department is well known to have brought many friends together over the years. Countless students who have taken band, choir and orchestra at FLHS have said that their closest friends were made through the music department.

Given all these opportunities to challenge yourself academically, form friendships, and participate in sports and extracurriculars, time management is an important skill for you to master. The pace of high school is considerably faster than middle school, and teachers are less likely to micromanage your time. Instead of overworking yourself, keep a balanced schedule between the various aspects of your life. It is critical that you value your mental health over your school work. 

Senior Carly Mayhew recommends getting ahead of your work to avoid stress when deadlines approach: “One of the biggest adjustments for me entering high school, was the block schedule…And in the beginning of the school year I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of homework that I left to do the night before… Always get started on projects and assignments even if they aren’t due that week, staying ahead of the work will always pay off in the long run.”

Keeping a to-do list is a great way to stay organized. Google Calendar (which automatically imports all assignments from Google Classroom), Microsoft Sticky Notes, Google Docs and other programs can be used. No one system for keeping a to-do list works for everyone, so experiment until you find something that works for you.

Most rising freshmen have never experienced the workload that high school has to offer. Freshman year can be a trial and error year to figure out what studying method is most effective for you. It might seem scary to try studying or learning in a different way, but you will benefit from the new experience. If you are struggling, keep in mind the immense support you have from teachers, upperclassmen and the counseling staff. 

Entering high school, particularly during a pandemic, seems intimidating. However, know that you have support systems and ways to connect with our school community, even while six feet apart. Embrace this transition, be open minded, and use it as an opportunity to grow and challenge yourself while keeping each experience in balance and perspective. FLHS Headmaster, Mr. Hatzis, stresses the importance of engaging with the world around you and realizing your impact. Over the next four years you will leave a Falcon Footprint at FLHS. Before you know it, you will be the ones giving advice to future freshmen.

Danielle Prohaska, Spotlight Editor, also contributed to this article.