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How Can I Use What I Learned in 9th Grade to Make Next Year Count?

Can you remember how you felt when school started last fall?  There was so much to learn…the layout of a new school building…how to study for harder classes…how to meet and get along with all sorts of new people…which activities were right for you and how to get involved…how to manage your time with so much going on….  Well, in just a few weeks, your first year of high school will be behind you and you may be wondering just what the whole thing meant…how you’ve changed and what you’ve learned.  Most importantly, you are wondering how to use this self-discovery as you move on to 10th grade.    

What is self-discovery?

Self-discovery means taking a long, honest look at what you’ve learned and the ways in which you have grown.  You can begin by looking in the mirror.  In what ways is the reflection you see different from the person you saw in the mirror last year?  Physically, emotionally, and intellectually, you have changed in many ways and are closer to becoming a young adult than you were when you finished eighth grade. 

You now have new interests, teachers, counselors, and classmates that were not a part of your life a year ago.   If you were enrolled in a standard ninth grade curriculum, you now know more about math, English, science, foreign language, and the world around you.  Your parents may be giving you more freedom to manage your time and make some choices about your social life (dating, curfew, allowance, etc.).  All of these things indicate that you have matured a bit and are ready to take on new interests, new courses, new activities, new relationships, and new responsibilities.

How can I put my academic strengths and interests to work in 10th grade?

Though you will have to follow an established course of study in high school, taking the courses (English, math, science, social studies, foreign language, fine arts, etc.) required for high school graduation, you probably have a greater sense now of which courses you like most and the ones that you learn easiest. 

If you are eligible for honors level classes, take them.  Join clubs and teams that will allow you to build on what you learn in class and interact with teachers or coaches and peers who share your interests and can help you learn more about certain subjects or activities.   Engage in career exploration activities offered at school or search for opportunities to find out more about your certain career fields.

What social skills will I need in 10th grade?

Remember that character always counts!  (Character: those positive qualities that distinguish you from others as an individual and attract others to you…those things about you that determine your reputation.)  If you practice good manners, make wise social choices, and give attention to developing good character, you will be fine. 

Remember, also, that you are an individual.  The most important social skill you will ever have is to be true to yourself.  In other words, don’t compromise your values and integrity in order to be popular. 

It’s okay if you are shy.  You will meet people who like and understand your personality…people who will accept you as you are.

If you are a leader, learn what makes for good leadership and follow those who demonstrate the traits that you admire in a leader. 

If you are popular, never use your popularity to exclude or devalue others.  Respect for others is a reflection of self-respect.  There is something of value in everyone and showing respect is not an option; it is a requirement for healthy relationships with others.

What can I do to help me remember what I learned during my freshman year?

Keeping a journal will help you continue on the road to self-discovery and remember life’s lessons along the way.    Designate a notebook, a pad of paper, etc. as your journal... the place to record your thoughts and ideas.  Try to write in your journal every day and reflect, in writing, on your journal entries, from-time-to-time.  You will be surprised at what you will learn about yourself by doing this.  (You may also find that you have created a record of good ideas that can turn into school or community projects or help you develop your personal profile as you begin your college search!) 


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Don Munce