Tips for New Students: From the Emerald Leadership Team


Emerald Staff Photographer

The Emerald Leadership Team got together to share their insights into high school life.

Our Spring 2022 student body poll respondents and the Emerald Leadership Team had a lot to say about what they wish they had known coming into SHC. The following includes the Emerald’s top tips and student recommendations to make your first year as a student in the SHC community the best it can be!

Atessa Anoshiravani ‘23: Editor-in-Chief

Emerald group photo taken in December of 2019. (Emerald Staff Photographer)

As a nervous yet eager freshman, I was excited to try new things while further exploring activities I already knew I enjoyed. Because one such activity was writing, I resolved to join the Emerald. Upon walking into my first meeting, I was greeted by a room filled with babbling upperclassmen, who knew their place in the club and the people around them. In mild horror, I glanced around and discovered that I was seemingly the only freshman present. Had I made a mistake? Fortunately Amy, the Editor-in-Chief at the time, welcomed me in, and to my enormous relief, extracted me from the lonely corner I had sat myself in by asking if I wanted to meet the only other 9th grader: Nicole (my current Managing Editor). If I had left that room, if I had decided that it wasn’t worth even going to the meeting because none of my new friends had wanted to come with me, I would never have joined this wonderful community of writers, and would have never had the opportunity to add my own vision to the school’s newspaper as Editor-in-Chief. 

So, my top tip is to not be afraid of meeting new people and putting yourself in uncomfortable  situations in order to pursue activities you are curious about. Another thing that has helped me immensely throughout these past few years has been attending office hours and making friends with my teachers — they really are here to help us learn.

Nicole Mabborang ‘23: Managing Editor

The first yearbook photo of Kapamilya ICCC’s (Filipino Club), during the 2019-20 school year. (Mariflor Medrano)

When transitioning from middle school to high school, a phrase that I heard a million times was “get involved.” However, I always sat there and thought, “How do I even do that?” During the second week of school, all students were invited to the plaza to attend the Activity Fair. During this event, club representatives spoke about their club in their stands with sign-up sheets. I walked with my other freshman friends to many different clubs: the Filipino club, Concert Choir, and many more activities that we found interesting. Immediately, I decided to sign up for the Filipino club with my other friends. It was an amazing opportunity to learn more about my culture and enjoy its uniqueness with other Filipino students and allies. I watched Filipino movies, made paroles to celebrate our heritage during the Pasko (Christmas) season, and created art in a style inspired by Filipino artists. Looking back at my involvement in the club for almost four years, two years as a leader, I’m glad I picked up the pen that acted as the ultimate initiator to writing the incredible stories of my new friendships, connections, and character development. 

If you find yourself in the same place as me, constantly told to be involved but wonder how, I advise you to pick up the pen and sign up for whatever interests you! Be bold. You are capable of more than you know. You can develop a passion, create long-lasting friendships, and learn more about yourself along the way. 

Lucrezia (Lulu) McClellan  ‘23: Head of Multimedia

Entering SHC freshman year I was so excited to sign myself up for as many extracurriculars and clubs as possible, I then quickly learned what “putting too much on your plate” meant the hard way. Wanting to take advantage of every opportunity, I signed myself up for 6 clubs and began coaching a micro soccer team while also playing both school and club soccer too. Meetings often coincided with each other, and my work load was too much for me to manage. This inevitably led to me feeling burnt out and having to drop several activities halfway throughout the school year. I learned that it is much better to give more attention to a few, more meaningful activities, than to sign up for too many that you aren’t able to fully participate in.

I learned that it is much better to give more attention to a few, more meaningful activities, than to sign up for too many that you aren’t able to fully participate in.

In the following 3 years, I found the sweet spot between getting involved while still not spreading myself too thin. Still keeping a busy, but not too packed schedule, my biggest tip for success is to write everything down. Keeping track of every assignment, task, and meeting I had helped me to stay on top of everything.

William Holland ‘23: Head Copy Editor



As the sole student from my K-8 school to attend SHC, I began high school without any friendly connections or real experience getting to know people, having been in the same 36-person class since I was five years old. However, I quickly learned that the easiest way to get rid of those feelings of nervousness was simply to start talking to people. I began asking people what they thought about last night’s homework or their plans for the Bruce Mahoney. While you will never have a 100% success rate, introducing yourself and demonstrating interest in learning about others is the quickest way to make new friends. SHC has a very welcoming community and it is very easy to find and join a friend group that is right for you.

Choir performs at St Paul’s Cathedral (Emerald Staff Photographer)

I also highly recommend joining clubs and other extracurriculars to meet new people that you might not otherwise have the chance to meet. These activities by definition bring together like-minded people, so it is easy to find a common ground from which to build a friendship. If, like me, you don’t know what clubs you might want to join or even what interests you, try asking your friends and classmates what activities they are involved in or joining. Chances are there will be a few that resonate with you. Always at least consider joining the activities your friends recommend. I joined SHC’s Concert Choir midway through my freshman year after one of my friends spent four months telling me to try it out. I was hesitant because I had never sung in a choir before, but I eventually joined and found myself enjoying it far more than I expected. I now am the deepest bass singer in several other choirs on campus that I never would have joined had I not heeded my friend’s sound, if occasionally nagging advice. 

Adilene Ryan ‘23: Head of Layout and Design

Mr. Mahoney and Tech Crew members backstage for a show. (Emerald Staff Photographer)

One thing that took me a couple of weeks to adapt to as a freshman was just how many people there were. I came from a tiny middle/elementary school and wasn’t used to stairways flooded with people during passing periods or sitting in a packed cafeteria at lunch. In addition to people, there were also a ton of new activities available, and it was easy to feel paralyzed by the number of decisions I had to make–from which clubs to sign up for to where to sit at lunch. Even with four years to look forward to, it already felt like there was so much I wanted to do and never enough time to do it all. If you’re feeling this way, think back and try to remember what you were most excited about whenever you thought about high school. Whether it be from a couple months ago, or something you’ve been looking forward to for years, start there. For me, this was joining our theater’s Tech Crew and learning how to use power tools and build sets. I’d been interested in this for years but never had the opportunity to be on a stage crew until I came to SHC. I had no idea what I was doing (and still kind of don’t), but it was so satisfying to check off something I’d been looking forward to for so long. 

Kylie Hansen ‘23: SHC Live Liaison

To “give up” takes a lot of courage, especially when you are doing it for your mental health.

One thing I wish I understood and took seriously as I entered high school is the importance of being yourself, and requiring yourself to have mental health check-ins every now and then to be able to evaluate how your mind and body are adjusting to the new environment. Many incoming freshmen are eager to have many friends and find people to connect with, but the important thing is to find people who like you for you and share the same interests as you. School is hard enough, but can be even harder when you’re being drained from toxic friendships, getting caught up in things you don’t really care about, trying to be someone you’re not, or doing things you aren’t capable of doing at that time. Throughout my years at SHC I realized that not only is it good to surround yourself with kind and motivating people, but also making sure that the classes and extracurricular activities you join benefit your wellbeing. What some may see as “giving up” when you quit a sport or choose to switch out of class, is actually a strength. Knowing what you need and advocating for yourself is something you will need to learn to succeed at SHC. To “give up” takes a lot of courage, especially when you are doing it for your mental health. So, to all the incoming students, the Emerald encourages you to find out who you are, be yourself, and advocate for what you need. This can be challenging at first, but start off by checking in with yourself every week and see how you feel about your current friendships, teachers, and classes. 

Isabella Rinaldi ‘24: Assistant Editor-in-Chief

A group of speakers share their idea worth sharing at a TEDxYouth@SHC Conference. (Emerald Staff Photographer)

Before entering my freshman year at SHC, I had this fixed idea that I would play either volleyball or run cross country. Prior to high school, the athletic world was what I was most familiar with, adopting this closed mindset that if I were to be an athlete that is all I could be. However, in the back of my mind, I have always had a burning passion to get involved in the myriad of interesting clubs and extracurricular activities inside and outside of SHC. I remember in seventh grade I watched one of SHC’s TEDxYouth productions, and immediately fell in love with public speaking and the power one speech could hold. I felt so inspired by all these young high school students, standing up on a stage, facing their fears, and sharing a speech that they wrote, to help spread a message and make an impactful difference. Public speaking, despite being one of my biggest fears, always stood in the back of my mind. So, freshman year after the activity fair, I joined Speech and Debate. I was unsure of whether this would be something I would be successful at, and whether it was the activity for me. After a few practices and my first tournament, I fell in love. It absolutely terrified me to perform my speeches, but the confidence and perspective I gained afterwards was incredible, and changed my perspective about myself and all that I was capable of doing. A year later, I fulfilled my seventh grade wish and desire to get into public speaking, and performed a TEDx talk in the Spring of 2022, just as I had watched SHC students do in 2018. 

My biggest piece of advice to any incoming freshman, is to embrace change, even welcome it, and take chances– even ones that scare you. 

There is no “right” way to be active in the SHC community, and no “right” path to take.

It’s very easy to limit yourself to what you are familiar with. Sports were all I knew before high school. But one of the best things I could have ever done was take the risk and chance to try something new. Shortly after doing that, I discovered many of my passions were in extracurriculars and clubs. I encourage all freshmen this school year to follow any interests they have or passions, even if one is drastically different from the other. Never let one activity or sport define you. It’s important to remember not to limit yourself to one identity. This fixed mindset of only allowing yourself to pursue one thing, or be one thing hinders change and exploration, which are both vital to your four years at SHC, as you grow as an individual and student. You can be an athlete and be a participating member of many clubs. You can be a part of a plethora of clubs and not play a sport. There is no “right” way to be active in the SHC community, and no “right” path to take. Your interests and passions will fluctuate and change over these four years, so now is the time to try new things! Oftentimes it can become overwhelming if you are involved in a lot of things at once, so explore what you can early on, and over time you can decide where your priorities stand and what activities you really enjoy putting your time and energy into. Listen to yourself, and try new things that intimidate you. You will meet so many incredible and interesting people, make connections, find amazing opportunities, and learn so much in the process. So I would say, just take the chance, embrace the change– even if it scares you.

Riley Dickman ‘23: Head of Publicity

SHC’s musical production of Matilda in Spring of 2022 (Emerald Staff Photographer)

When I first entered SHC, the idea of a block schedule was entirely new to me. At first, I definitely mismanaged my time and allowed myself to procrastinate as a result of the schedule. I would advise incoming freshmen to use the block schedule to their advantage— plan out your time and don’t save work for the last minute. The block schedule leaves a lot of time to work on or complete your homework at school and I’ve found that using that time leaves me feeling less stressed. Additionally, it is important to be willing to reach out for help. Although it can seem intimidating to talk to your teachers, classmates, administrators, or counselor, it is so worth it. Everyone at SHC wants to help you succeed. If you are struggling with a class, a topic, or a non-school related issue, I’d strongly encourage you to let someone know. In sophomore year, I took AP Psychology and was having a hard time understanding a concept for a few weeks. When I reached out to Mr. Curcio, he stayed late at Zoom office hours for multiple days to help me grasp the topic. This is just one of many scenarios in which someone at SHC went out of their way to support me in my career as a student and as a person. By asking for help, you are setting yourself up for success. My final piece of advice would be to branch out. Although somewhat obvious, this advice has greatly helped me succeed at SHC. I have branched out in a number of ways including sitting with a new table at lunch, by joining the Speech Team, and joining Costume Crew (briefly). Today, speech and debate is one of my favorite extracurriculars. Although Costume Crew wasn’t a match for me, I did enjoy trying something new. Some of my current closest friends stem from the new table that I sat with. Branching out is not always guaranteed to be successful, but really there is no way to know without trying it!

And here are the most insightful responses from the Spring 2022 student poll:

“Make friends and become friendly with teachers, they help a ton when getting into classes. Counselors are very helpful and super supportive of everything you do, and I did take advantage of that.”

“Don’t be intimidated! You’re going to be ok”

“Dedicate yourself to a few things you love, and work at them through your clubs, classes, and even outside of school. Also, take advantage of all the experts! Teachers, the friends of parents, random connections all want to help you succeed.”

“Bring a lunch on all school lunches”

“There is a gender neutral restroom on the third floor of the La Salle campus, don’t feel uncomfortable asking where to find it!”

“Do your work the first day you get it. Don’t fall behind because it’s really hard to get back on top of your stuff. Also live life, do the things you want and go out. Don’t let your school life be your only life.”

“There are a lot of mental health resources available from counselors especially. Also, go to SHC Announcements Resources on Schoology to find the sexual assault reporting form.”

To find more tips, check out the Emerald website for past content, including our Freshman Asks, Senior Answers series and 5 Tips for Freshman. If you have any of your own questions, feel free to email us at [email protected] or drop an anonymous note into the box outside of room 508 on La Salle campus.