Five facts for freshmen

Hey everyone, my name is Spencer Douangphouxay, I am a junior at San Joaquin Memorial! As a guest writer for the Red and Blue I hope you enjoy all that I have to offer!

When asked what I would like to write about immediately my thoughts went to the freshmen class. Now that we are officially three weeks in to our hybrid schedule I think it is important to give all the freshmen advice as they adapt to high school and the social, academic, and spiritual changes it brings.

Rather than simply giving my own advice, I asked a few friends for any tips they feel are important to let you all know. Although this is dedicated to the freshmen all advice can be allocated to every student!

Before I get started let me get the most important advice my friend Isabella Vasquez '22 was adamant about telling everyone, “DON’T WALK SLOW."

1. Be true to yourself

I understand it is such a cliché but from my freshman experience, this notion has such an impact for the rest of not only your high school career but life. Be aware of how you talk and the actions you make- are they how you want to represent yourself as an individual? Are you comfortable talking about your interests to the people you hang out with? Do you fear being ashamed or ignored? If so, surround yourself with people that will support you and motivate you to achieve your goals. Leave the negativity behind for the euphoric feeling of positivity with people that care about you. Trust me, life is much better when you are not restrained to a strict role.

2. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and explore new things

Coming into high school I never realized the many activities and clubs SJM has to offer their students. Everything is so enticing, whether it is joining the football team, math club and service club, if your spontaneous enough do all three (something that I actually did my freshman year). Even when something does not look fun or it is something not a lot of people do, I can ensure that every activity will help you grow as a person, whether it is a big life lesson or solving that one equation Ms. Wilson wrote on the board. So I implore you to try out for the Panther Play-House, campaign for student council or even compete in the Chemistry Olympiad. Along the way, you can meet new people make lifelong friendships!

3. Make sure to stay on top of your grades to remain eligible

-Alexandra Alarcon ‘22

Yes, yes, yes! I cannot tell you how much your grades matter! And not only grades, but also service hours! Things are currently different now, but when school finally does go back to normal, you will have to maintain ten hours every semester to reach a total of twenty each year you are at SJM, so make sure to get those hours! Right now not a lot of things are happening in terms of school dances, sports, and other activities, but once the pandemic ends and the fun begins, if you have two F’s or a GPA below 2.0 you will continue to miss out on these events.

I am not telling you to be a genius and constantly get straight A’s, but I am telling you that your education is important, especially since this amazing education does come at some costs. Try to stay consistent in maintaining above a 2.5 and look at your notes as often as possible, especially after school to retain information easier. Try making time for study sessions on Fridays or even the weekend for about an hour or two. One particular suggestion of mine: study sessions are so much better with friends, so try reaching out to a couple of people from your classes to see if they would like to study with you. Again, high school is so much better when you are eligible.

4. Make friends with upperclassmen

This is my favorite tip! I cannot express how much I love all my friends that have graduates or will soon graduate from SJM. Being friends with all grade levels can benefit you in different ways. For example my friends Michael Askins 20’ and Elizabeth Nicolet 21’ helped me so much by tutoring me in Chemistry and Trig/Functions. Upperclassmen have already taken most of the classes that you are currently taking, and they can help you improve your score on that next test! For the most part, a majority of upperclassmen will be able to help you with any questions you have or even introduce you to teachers or coaches!

It is important to remember upperclassmen are not just role models but also normal high school students just like you and they can be tons of fun to hang out with. So do not be afraid to make friends with upperclassmen. They are more than happy to help you with anything, especially when they are your friends and they can be your personal tutor or chauffeur!

Here’s a shoutout to two of my favorite underclassmen Juliana Gutierrez 23’ and Arden Spencer 24’! Two of my many favorite upperclassmen Xochitl Noriego 21’ and Ellie Luchini 21’! Much love and appreciation for all of you!

5. Accept and learn from failure and hold yourself accountable

-Gage Delacruz ‘22 and Sarah Marmolejo ‘22

My final piece of advice revolves around something that every student will experience in their high school career: failure. Whether it is that test you did not do best on, being cut from the varsity sports team or just not having the best day, it is important to understand that there is no point in holding on to what you can no longer change. Hold yourself accountable so you know to practice and study harder, be consistent in your work and stay "on the grind." All you can do is use your failure as a learning experience and motivation to be driven.

Not every day is going to be a win, you will have to experience the lows of the worst days to feel the highs of the best. Realize what you can do to be better instead of mourning what you failed to do. You will never improve in any aspect of life if you cannot take away from your failures. Eventually, all your hard work will be for something you probably never knew you were capable of accomplishing.

That is a wrap! I hope you enjoyed my top five advice for freshmen. If there is anything I have learned up until now is that your high school career will go by fast. Every moment matters so do not be afraid to talk to someone new and experience new things. Leave SJM with no regrets of everything you accomplished. Everyone is going have a different high school experience, but the only one that matters to you is your own.


Junior Spencer Douangphouxay is one of the first guest writers to publish content on the Red and Blue. If you would like to take part in this amazing opportunity to share your thoughts and words with the SJM community, email with your ideas!


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