Fall doesn't officially begin until Sept. 22, but for students everywhere, summer already is over. Though school hasn't actually started yet, it might as well have. Teens are beginning to get their schedules and are finding out what subjects they will be studying for the next 180 days. Cellphones are buzzing nonstop as students see who's in their lunch or homeroom. Everyone is thinking about the start of school.
For some, this year is the last. They fought through years of pop quizzes and algebra tests and they are now facing the final days of high school. But the end of these days of struggle are followed by another issue that induces just as much, if not more, stress - college.
Seniors are forced to figure out that they can't be a child anymore, it's time to grow up. Now they have the weight of their future on their shoulders. Questions start running through their heads. What do I want to do for the rest of my life? Where do I want to go to college? How much does it cost? Can I afford that? Will my parents support me? These teens are taking their first steps into the "real world."
For others, this year is the first. Some kids are stepping up from the protected world of middle school into the wild jungle of high school. Nerves are frayed, stress is ever present and worry is eating away at some teens. The rumors they have heard of students getting shoved into lockers and publicly humiliated are ringing in their ears. They are in a building that is strange and alien to them, so much unlike the well-known halls of their old school. These teens are starting the path to their futures.
No matter if you are at the top of the ladder or starting out at the bottom, high school should not be a stress factory. Seniors do need to focus on their futures and start figuring out what they want to do with the time they've been given, but that doesn't mean they have to stop living. Some teens get so caught up with their futures, they forget about the present.
Freshmen need to realize that high school is not a prison yard. Not every student you see is out to destroy their self-esteem and even if they were, the adults at the school would surely help them out.
High school often is depicted as a horrid place where kids are forced to perform grueling math problems and get bullied by every senior. In reality, it should be some of the best days of your life.
Sure, you've got to deal with some bullies and not every class is going to be easy, but you get through these things with your friends. They are your lifelines, the only people who really understand how boring history is or how crazy the gym teacher is. So stop thinking of it as 180 days of going to school and start thinking of it as 180 days spending time with the friends you love and trust. School is coming back, but students don't need to fear it.
Thompson is an incoming freshman at Hughesville High School. Her column is published on the second Monday of each month in the Education section. She can be reached at educa firstname.lastname@example.org.