Freshmen Get Advice from Students, Teachers

For young and inexperienced teens, high school is a whole new world.  Entering the school on the first day can be nerve-wracking for most, yet exciting for others. How do they do it?

Kristen Nevala-Melican, Dimond alumnus, has much to say about her own experience. Mrs. Melican graduated from Dimond High in 1989. Since then, she has devoted her life to educating her pupils in such a way that makes them feel welcomed and understood. She is currently teaching her 23rd year of English classes and has always remained patient, even with the most difficult of students.

“In all the years I’ve taught here, I can say that Dimond is a welcoming school and bullying isn’t anything to worry about,” she said.

In the event of a harassment issue involving freshman, Christian Calderera,  assistant principal for the freshman house, takes the situation “under his wing,”as he likes to put it.

Calderera has been working at Dimond since 2015 but has really won the hearts of students all over Anchorage.

Racquel Micheletto, a senior at Dimond, said, “It is very important to focus on your GPA starting right from freshman year. Many people don’t realize this and end up having problems in the future, trying to rush and raise their GPA before they graduate and miss the scholarship opportunities.”

Melican said,“Freshmen need to get involved in as many activities as possible. School is more than just classes.” Micheletto agrees.

“I would really encourage everyone to join the sports, clubs, or other activities they’re interested in. There’s nothing worse than getting to senior year and realizing that you missed your chance. Get out there! Get involved! You won’t regret it,” Micheletto said.

Racquel has been involved with sports since freshman year and has found herself more focused in her classes. The reason behind this is that if children do nothing but school work for 4 years straight, they will most likely get tired during this time and have the tendency to slack off on some if not all their work.

Engaging in sports provides an opportunity for them to release the day’s stress and reward themselves for their hard work.  

Hearing this piece of advice, the freshmen are definitely motivated, but where do they start?

This is why, about three years ago, the freshman mentorship program was introduced.

“The program started three years ago with the goal of helping freshmen adjust to high school life,” said Melican.

On the first Friday of the school year, a set of upperclassman mentors split the freshmen up into several groups and have them compete against each other in a series of confidence-boosting games. These activities are designed to inform the students of the options offered at Dimond.

“It informed us about the clubs, Student Government and after-school sports opportunities that are offered at Dimond and told us about what we need to do to join, “ said Burak Türker, a freshman.

I, myself, a senior at Dimond High, have my own advice for freshmen.

“Yes, sometimes high school can take its toll on you. Most of us have been through more in high school than we have in our daily lives. People are harsh. They’ll judge and they’ll hate and put your name in conversations you don’t belong in. But none of it matters. Keep your head high, freshmen. Focus on your classes, keep your GPA up, get involved in community service, and participate in sports. Stress is always going to be around us, we just have to find a way to cope with it to remain sane. High school is simply a test for the real world.