September 2002
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How to make this year .. The Year!
By Erin Penney, SNN Editor, St. Mark's School, Kings Cove, NF

For many high school students, it's the same story every September. "This is going to be the year!" you say to yourself. "I'm going to have the highest average, make the elite volleyball team, have the leading part in the drama production and still have time for friends and parties on weekends."

Does it always work out that way? In many cases, no, it doesn't. In order to have an enjoyable and successful school year, the key is to find a balance among all areas of your life.

Your number one priority in high school must be your academic work. No extra-curricular or social activities should make your grades suffer. So if you're an involved student, do yourself a favour – don't procrastinate when it comes to your homework and assignments. If you put assignments off until the night before they're due, it could mean missing a team practice or society meeting in order to complete them. It's unnecessary stress that could easily be avoided.

It's also a great idea to read the text before classes. This way, while your teacher is lecturing and class discussions are going on, you can better understand and participate because the material will not be totally foreign to you. And rest assured, the extra mile you went will not go unnoticed by your teacher. It shows you're interested in the class and you really care about your work and that's something teachers love to see.

You can also show your teachers you're interested by asking questions about anything you don't completely understand. It shows that you actually thought about what they said, and you didn't just hear without listening. They're only too happy to help students like that.

As mentioned before, it's important to balance your academic work with extra-curricular and social activities. And all three of these are vital to having a healthy and rewarding high school experience.

So get your academic work completed as soon as possible after it's assigned to avoid last-minute stress. By doing this, you also give yourself more free time for sports, clubs and friends.

Regarding extra-curricular activities, I find it most enjoyable to stick to a couple of activities that you're really passionate about. Then you can devote your attention to those activities and excel in them. That's something you can't do when you join every club just for the sake of being ultra-involved. Find what you're passionate about and stick to activities related to those passions.

And if you find that there are no clubs related to what you enjoy, why not start one yourself? I know teachers at my school are thrilled when students show their independence and leadership skills this way. So go ahead and get that sign-up sheet ready!

For the most part, your high school years can be as good – or as bad – as you want to make them. Saying that your school is "small and boring" is no excuse for having what you call a bad year. Get your friends together and organize a study group, a creative writing group, an improv club, anything – the sky's the limit. If you think something could be improved upon, then do it. Because, after all, the students are what make the school. So study hard, become involved and get out there and enjoy the beginning of the best years of your life!

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