August 5, 2016

High school seniors advise incoming freshmen on how to make the most of their experience

For Jack Lockrem, third from right, joining the cross country team at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis led to a new challenge and a source of new friends. Here, he poses with fellow seniors on the team: Jackson Janowicz, left, John Hurley, Josef Eisgruber, Sam LeMark, Jacob deCastro, Daniel Burger and Rob Hofmann. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

For Jack Lockrem, third from right, joining the cross country team at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis led to a new challenge and a source of new friends. Here, he poses with fellow seniors on the team: Jackson Janowicz, left, John Hurley, Josef Eisgruber, Sam LeMark, Jacob deCastro, Daniel Burger and Rob Hofmann. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

At 17, high school senior Jack Lockrem doesn’t hesitate when he begins to share his advice for helping an incoming freshman make the most of her or his high school experience:

“One of the best ways to make the most of your high school experience is to try, at least once, something completely out of your comfort zone—whether it’s an extracurricular activity, a challenging class or a class you normally wouldn’t think of taking.”

That’s exactly what Jack did at the beginning of his junior year at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. As someone who has gained the spotlight in leading roles in his school’s theater productions, Jack laughingly acknowledges, “I’ve never been a star athlete.” Still, he followed his friends’ suggestion to join the cross country team.

“It was excellent, and I’m running my senior year. It’s something I proudly wear on my chest,” Lockrem says.

“When I joined cross country, it helped me become a better friend with some people and create friendships with other people I normally wouldn’t hang out with. By trying something different, you may end up finding something you’re passionate about, and you’ll find a great community there.”

Carson Hambrick’s passion flows as she shares her advice to incoming high school freshmen.

“Enjoy the little things,” says Carson, a senior at Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison. “I am now a senior and thinking about graduating this coming year makes me extremely sad because I wish I had appreciated more of my high school career. I remember being a freshman, and just counting down the days until I was a senior and just ready to be at the top.

“Another piece of advice I would give is to never, ever put things off. If you have a task that has a deadline or that’s important, just get it done. Turning in a project or a paper that only reflects half your talent—because you waited until the last minute—is never worth it. You will do yourself a favor getting a head start on homework and other projects, and your grades will definitely reflect your hard work.”

Jacqueline Kennedy has seen the rewards of that “high focus, hard work” approach in her first three years at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis.

“I want all freshmen to know that they need to take every opportunity to improve themselves, to give 100 percent of their effort in all that they do, and to always hang onto their faith, as it will help them persevere,” the Scecina senior says. “Even if all their hard work doesn’t produce immediate effects, it will all pay off in the end, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.”

Jacqueline experienced one of those “unexpected ways” this summer.

“I was taking a variety of courses—mostly math and science courses—and I checked the mail one day over the summer. I got a letter from Phi Beta Kappa telling me that I won an award as Scecina’s recipient for the 2016 Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for High School Juniors. I did not know that this award existed, so it came as a surprise to me and an effect of my hard work.”

Even as a senior, Jonathon Anderson of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis remembers one of the most difficult challenges that most incoming freshmen face: “It can be intimidating entering a new school with new people, especially being the youngest.” He offers this advice for confronting that challenge:

“It is incredibly important to put yourself out there. The more you put yourself outside your comfort zone, the quicker you will adapt and thrive.

“For example, as a freshman, I decided to apply to be a class co-president. I was very nervous, considering that I had never done something such as this. Yet, participating in student council ended up being one of the most influential experiences of my life. I learned to be a leader, to speak in public, to get involved, and to handle more responsibilities. Being a student council co-president encouraged me to further my leadership skills.”

Most of all, Jonathon believes incoming freshmen will get their high school experience off to a positive start if they follow a basic, six-step approach:

“I encourage all freshmen to be bold, work hard, keep your grades up, be yourself, attend school events and activities, and always be compassionate.” †


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