Freshmen of 2022-23: The Setbacks and Bright Futures


Olivia Shen

Two freshmen walk together down the E pod hallway, ready to face their next class.

Olivia Shen, Staff Writer

On August 23rd, 2022, the class of 2026 started high school after months of sleeping in. While this school year is undoubtedly easier than the last- taking it into consideration that we were just coming out of a pandemic, there is still going to be the job of shifting to a new school year. As the start approached, hundreds of rising freshmen were preparing for the transition to not only a bigger and different environment, but also a bigger workload and bigger responsibility.

In the media, the idea of high school is heavily romanticized and brushes over the struggles that students go through. “You know High School Musical? I was picturing something like that,” freshman Leo Wang recalls. 

Instead, State High operates quite differently from the iconic film series. Wang and hundreds of other freshmen were met with a rigorous course load and classes full of unfamiliar faces. From three-and-a-half floors and a grade of over five hundred people to a heavier homework load, rising freshmen have had to make some big changes to how they approach school. 

A big change for this year’s freshmen seems to be the people around them. “There’s just so many more people in the hallways and at lunch. I think on the first day, my biggest anxiety was the amount of people. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Why are there so many people?’ ”freshman Lucy Shaffer-Manhart confessed. 

For her and many others, having more people not only makes finding classes harder, but it also spreads out friend groups. 

Ms. Titus worked closely with the 9th grade counselors last year, and is a new 9th grade counselor.

“Peer conflicts happen in 9th grade because you’re going from smaller schools to larger schools, and not necessarily having the same classes with all your friends before. It can be really hard to reach out and connect with those friends and also keep friendships,” said Ms. Titus, further proving just how hard it can be to acclimate to a new environment was so many new people

Thanks to State High and Penn State University being so interconnected,  the advanced/CP courses put forward a curriculum much more advanced and diverse than neighboring  school districts, presenting a double-edged sword. On the one hand, students have all these opportunities, but on the other, they are being pushed harder than they would be at other schools. 

Many students have found that the wide variety of course choices gives them the freedom to expand on their interests.

“I signed up for a lot of classes to challenge myself, because school has come naturally to me through the years. In middle school, there was a lot less variety of classes and clubs, but the amount of classes and clubs is really nice [here at State High] because you get to pick what you’re interested in,” explained Shaffer-Manhart.

The classes themselves are not the only things that have changed from middle to high school— the amount of school has also increased.

While there is still some free time available to students, they have to adjust to the amount of schoolwork they are assigned. “In 8th grade, there wasn’t too much work. I could finish most of it and still have time to enjoy my hobbies and do TSA,” said Wang. High school is a completely different story, with way more work to be completed each day. 

When asked about school work, Ms. Titus commented, “[State High classes] are a lot more work and course load heavy and have more expectations than neighboring districts and counties.” This means that while their courses are giving students more knowledge and more access to resources, those extra benefits come with extra work.

While some freshmen are handling changes smoothly, there are many more who have run into challenges— even if they are small ones. However, with struggles comes coping strategies (especially academically). Not only have the freshmen of the 2022-2023 school year developed good study habits, but so have students from previous years. 

“So there are A days and B days, right? […] It’s a really good idea to get your A day homework done on A days, and your B day homework done on B days, because if you just put it off until the last second, it really piles up and then you’re stuck with a bunch of homework. It doesn’t [end well]. So I’d say you get your homework done on the day assigned,” sophomore Emma Chen advised. 

 Junior Odessa Gregor said, “Getting better at studying really helped my time management and helped me get faster [with completing schoolwork] and knowing what I had to do to learn material.”

An important thing to remember for freshmen (and upperclassmen) to remember is that they are not in this alone. Tips from fellow students, counselors, and teachers are just an email away. It is always a good idea to advocate for themselves.

 “Advocating for yourself and working with your teacher on what your needs are and what they might be able to help out with is the best thing you can do,” advised Ms. Titus. 

Aside from the struggles of transition, high school is full of opportunities. The truly unique fact of State High is the amount of clubs, electives, and activities available to students. With 200+ SLC courses listed in the course guide and over 70 clubs listed in the Activities Directory, our high school offers an expansive arsenal of tools to help students with their high school education and beyond. 

This time of year is when most clubs have been starting. “From what I’ve seen with clubs, a lot of students do things like Student Government, DECA, those kinds of clubs. I have seen a lot of the males in my caseload lean towards chess club, which is interesting, but I also see a lot of students doing fall sports since it’s the fall sport time of year. I’ve seen a lot of cross country runners, I’ve seen girl’s tennis, and soccer,” listed Ms. Titus. 

“Being in clubs is a good way to be involved in your school community,” she added. With all the clubs that State High offers, there is something for almost everyone. 

 So even if there have been a few roadblocks, the path for this year’s freshmen is looking bright. 

“I hope I can keep up the study pattern I have right now,” said Shaffer-Manhart.

“I want to join a lot of clubs,”  freshman Grace Yang mentioned. 

Of course, doing well on paper is important too. “I want to get through the year with a grade that I’m happy with,” said freshman Sophia Ge.

Keep up the work, class of 2026. While roadblocks will always find a way into your school day, always remember that you’re not alone— and that high school is an excellent opportunity if you choose for it to be.