For you, Class of 2022: Take it easy


Left to right: Freshmen Lara Coady ‘22, Hallie Bardani ‘22, Maggie Crooks ‘22, Miles Montgomery ‘22, Emma Harley ‘22, Jeremy King ‘22, Noah Sinclair ‘22, Claudia Pack ‘22, and Anna Musteada ‘22 having fun during Spirit Week. Note the smiles on their faces. These are sure to vanish by the time they become upperclassmen.

Lily Coady, Staff Writer

As I begin my senior year, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my high school career at large. It feels as though I’ve lived through an entire lifetime over the past three years: I’ve made new friends, gotten my drivers’ license, visited eight different countries, learned every year of world history, picked the universities that I want to apply to and (barely) passed Honors Pre-Calculus. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy since I first walked through the doors of Hollis-Brookline High School as a freshman, and a lot has changed.

Junior year was nothing short of fiery hell, sophomore year quite literally drove me (drivers’ license season!) from my sprawling teenage years to a more profound state of young adulthood… but there’s a sort of fondness and warmth that I get when remembering my freshman year. My dreams were twice as big as I was, and what I had imagined to be my high school career sounded more like High School Musical than public high school in Hollis, NH. This optimistic, idealistic, almost foolish attitude is what ultimately led me through the hardships of my first year of high school and into sophomore year with a smile.

In writing this article, I realized that my first priority had been to maintain and spread positive vibrations. It was later replaced by getting stellar grades and being admitted to a competitive college. A great part of me longed to restore the illusion that was a perfectly happy high school career, before I had made everything so crucial and serious. I wanted to remember how it felt going to school having never taken an AP class or an SAT: when school was genuinely a place where I came to learn, not to score.

Instead of dwelling on my own faraway past, I decided to do something for our current freshmen. I wanted to report their current thoughts and feelings so they could have a precise record of their freshman experience.

The Class of 2022 is perceived by its upperclassmen to be a particularly rambunctious group. We know that, if nothing else, these kids know how to have a good time. The freshmen were quick to dive into the arts at HB — several freshmen starred in the fall, spring, and winter plays, and many participated in Guitar Night. We noticed an unprecedented number of young faces being let into varsity sports. We heard their giggles in the lunchroom and their smiling conversations in the hallways. The Class of 2022, regardless of how miserable they may insist that they are, is smiling and having fun.

But as I said: they certainly stand by their alleged misery.

“This year sucked,” said Maggie Crooks ‘22.

“Stressful,” said Jeremy King ‘22.

“At first it was very stressful and scary, but afterwards, you got used to being tired all the time,” said Rachel DeLong ‘22.

The positive attitude I remembered having, as well as the happiness that I had assumed of them, was not being reflected in the words of these kids. Instead of positivity, I was getting an earful of negativity. If it wasn’t negativity, it was (unexpectedly) optimistic nihilism… Take Claudia Pack ‘22’s explanation of her year:

“It was mildly uneventful, but that’s better than bad, I guess. Nothing matters anyway.”

On the other hand, a few kids recognized the thrill that came with being at a completely new school with completely new people.

“It [freshman year] was fun because you got to know the school and meet a bunch of new people,” said Abbie Ogren ‘22. “Like upperclassmen.”

Regardless of how their personal experiences with freshman year differed, the kids unanimously insisted to me that the other grades held a pervasive animosity towards their class. I tried to protest, but the students were absolutely certain.

“They hate us,” said Pack. “They think we’re terrible and that we have behavioral issues.”

“It’s true, though,” added Miles Montgomery ‘22. “‘Cause we are the worst class.”

“We’re really cliquey, we have a lot of PDA,” said Amy Pattelena ‘22. “It’s definitely annoying.”

With this negativity associated with their freshman year, I expected the kids to be all over the idea of losing the title and becoming sophomores. Again, I was quickly proven wrong.

“Sophomore sounds worse than freshman,” said Montgomery.

“They’re known for thinking they’re so much better than freshmen,” explained Crooks. “But they’re not. They forget they were just freshmen.”

“Honestly, sophomores are the weeniest class,” said Pack. “At least freshman recognize they’re all weenies. The sophomores are just waiting to get their licenses.”

“I don’t think I’m really gonna care,” said Sophie Warren ‘22. “I’ll be a sophomore, but I’m still gonna feel like a freshman.”

Talking to them honestly sort of offended me. These children, these babies, only had unpleasant things to say about arguably the best time of their high school career. They hadn’t even taken the PSAT. With such a defeatist attitude already in place, I wondered if they’d even make it to their junior year. If they did make it there, they certainly wouldn’t make it out the other side. Where and when did they earn their right to complain so heavily? Then again, they’re 14, 15-year-olds. To them, the whole world is working against them, even when it really isn’t — again, that’s for junior year.

Even still, many of them can’t help but be a little excited. They had lots of predictions for the positive changes that could take place this upcoming year.

“Yeah, the classes will be harder,” said DeLong. “But we’ll probably be more in the swing of things by then, so it won’t be too bad.”

“Right now, I feel like we’re wicked cliquey,” said Rachel Brackett ‘22, reiterating what Pattelena had mentioned earlier. “Apparently you get more friendly in sophomore year, and there’s less drama.”

My investigation into the Class of 2022 was not exactly what I had originally expected. My sunshine and rainbows from my freshman year had been completely displaced by their indisputable rainclouds. I hope for one thing from these kids:

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you… I was really happy my freshman year, but I can confirm that I was more often unhappy (or bored, angry, tired and any other negative emotion you want to throw in here) than I was happy in my junior year. It was not easy. It was not fun. But I did grow a lot and learned more about myself, perhaps more so than I did in any classroom. Through the blood, sweat and tears, I can say that I’ve made it out the other side and am still in good emotional shape.

That being said, I think I could definitely have done it all differently. I wish I didn’t go into every assessment convinced that my life depended on whether I’d get a B+ or an A-, or worried about the number of extracurriculars I was taking or studying instead of getting the hell out of my room. It wasn’t until the end of the last semester of my junior year that I had realized I was doing more than what was necessary. That’s a year and a half of unneeded, and frankly unwanted, stress.

What I hope for you, Class of 2022, is that you’ll experience the inverse of my emotional curve. While I started happy and slowly became unhappy, you’re all starting quite unhappy. I know — trust me, I know — high school does, in fact, suck. But there’s no need to look at everything in such a negative light. I’m hoping that, instead of starting unhappy and becoming even more unhappy, you’ll become happier until reaching healthy contentment by junior year.

I can hear their cynical voices ripping apart this advice as I type it, but as someone who has been through it, I hope they’ll hear me out. Don’t stop trying in school, but at the same time, don’t stop trying to keep your head above the water. Both deserve equal priority.

High school is hard. Take it easy.