Titan Tips: How to get the best out of West

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Editor’s note: Janie Peterson graduated from West Forsyth in June and is now a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a frequent contributor for the Clemmons Courier.

By Janie Peterson

I’ve been at West Forsyth my whole life. My mom is a teacher and growing up I would get off the bus stop at West, we would go see dance concerts, athletic events and plays. And occasionally I would have to stop by the office with her to drop something off or relay a message. Naturally, I know West as well as any student and have many experiences from my time there (and before). If you’re an incoming freshman or a new student, there’s a lot to take in. Before you know it, you’ll be a West Fo graduate crying in the car to Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” in disbelief of how fast your high school experience flew by — but for now, you can take my advice.

Join something.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being involved at West. At the surface level, you have to invest in something to stand out to colleges, but it’s also a way to figure out who you are and make friends with similar interests. West is a big school and you’re going to want to have a sense of belonging somewhere. There’s lots to choose from: clubs, sports, specialty classes like newspaper, yearbook, art, drama, chorus. I was the president of the Mindfulness and Meditation Club — shoutout to a great choice of club since it requires no prior skills and is also extremely healthy for your mental well-being (really something everyone should be doing). Additionally, check out one of the many service clubs — it’s always smart to acquire some service hours for college applications and just to be a good person. I also wrote for the newspaper, which initially I didn’t plan on taking until a scheduling conflict, but I fell in love with it and it even landed me a writing job. If there isn’t anything you’re interested in, which would be hard to believe, you can always start your own club as long as you can find a teacher to sponsor you. In the past we’ve had book clubs, mountain biking and spike ball, just to name a few.

Enjoy the open campus.

Appreciate the outdoor hallways, but also take precautions. Many people hate on the outdoor class transitions, mostly because they can be a pain when it’s raining. However, I love them. You get a breath of fresh air, some movement and you get to see so many people. Still, if there’s any chance of rain, I would avoid wearing nice shoes — invest in some rain boots or at least wear shoes you don’t care about.

Put away the earbuds.

Because of longer classes with the block schedule, there’s often a lot of time at the end of class to get ahead on homework. I kept earbuds in my backpack, which were nice to have if you needed to focus on your own work. However, I would hesitate to overuse them — especially as a freshman. Try to keep them in your backpack most of the time, because a person with earbuds in all the time may seem unapproachable and it could stunt your social life. Earbuds or checking your phone may be the safer option on the first day, but you will eventually be grateful that you took a risk and struck up a conversation with a potential best friend. Also, when teachers tell you to put away phones/earbuds/technology, just do it; it’s a battle you’re not going to win and may even end in the entire class having to put their phones at the front of the room every period.

Branch out.

Try not to work with the same people for group projects every time. Group projects are actually a great tool for building relationships because you immediately have something to talk about (the project) and there’s no pressure to try to be friends, but sometimes that’s what happens.

Know your role.

Transitioning from middle to high school, I had to get used to being in class with students in different grades. I’ve always loved school and being engaged in my classes, but I would say it’s smart to be outspoken in classes with only freshmen, but slightly less so in classes with older students. Not to say you can’t speak in mixed classes or you have to blurt out everything that comes to mind in freshmen classes, but I would encourage you to think about what you say, just because older students have had different academic and life experiences.

Go to the games!

Of course I love football and even had the “football school” criteria when choosing what colleges to apply to, but don’t forget about the other sports. I loved going to see soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, swimming, track, field hockey, softball… I could go on. Asking someone to a game is a great way to hang out with new friends, and going by yourself (which I did plenty of times) is an opportunity for making friends you may not have classes with. And don’t forget dance and music concerts, plays and other events, too. But back to football, just sit in the back (your time will come) and don’t take it personally when the upperclassmen chant “freshmen bedtime” at 9 p.m.!