As of this week, I will have two daughters in high school.
My oldest, Caroline, is a senior and my youngest, Julia, will be starting as a freshman. Caroline has navigated the hallways and byways of Fairfield Ludlowe High School for thee years and wanted to impart her wisdom onto her little sister, as follows:
The last time we were together in school was at Mill Hill Elementary. But high school isn't elementary. I thought I would just write this primer to help you get started.
The 8 Now-Written Rules for Fairfield Ludlowe High School:
1. Fairfield Ludlowe High School has no pool. Upperclassmen trick incoming freshmen. They spill a little chlorine, put down some wet footprints on the floor and then run you into a storage closet. Don't be fooled.
2. You will do poorly on some tests. Up until now you've aced all of your tests. This is going to be a little more challenging, and you're going to have to be resilient. It's not the end of the world when you bomb a test.
3. There's a secret hallway. Actually it's not really a secret because of the fire codes, but it's a quiet spot if you want to sit and talk with friends and listen to music. We thought it was the coolest thing when we found it as freshmen, but it's not really a secret.
4. I am disappointed that Monsieur Smith isn't a French teacher at Ludlowe anymore; his class was a highlight these past few years. Definitely enjoy French and go on the Paris and Quebec trips. You will probably get Mr. Russell for history. Quirky teacher, but I was amazed how much I learned from his class.
5. This may be the biggest one. Learn the traffic patterns in the hallway. Don't be that freshman that clogs up everyone's path to talk to your friends. The first week of school, the main stairwell is always insanely crowded because freshmen think that it's the only one that exists. There are dozens more around the school. I was one of the freshmen guilty of this because I was afraid to venture around other unknown parts of school. But if you want to get to class, scope out alternative routes.
6. In middle school we were all so excited for the food, which was certainly a step up from elementary school food. But a few years ago they started making lunch menus healthy, before that we had cookies almost the size of your head, french fries, chicken nuggets, soda. Don't get your hopes up -- high school food isn't a step up from middle school.
7. The rules change every year, but teachers are pretty strict about library passes. The librarians are also strict. You even need a pass to leave the cafeteria and go into the library. I thought they wanted us to use the library? It's annoying always having to ask a teacher to sign a pass. Most teachers will quiz you on why you need to go to the library. To be honest, most people will go to see their friends and talk, but it's a library. It's not like we are getting a pass to go drinking in the parking lot. Librarians will check for passes every few minutes. Sometimes they'll hold the pass up to the light as if it's a 100 dollar bill. I half expect them to use those special markers to see if it's counterfeit. They will often quiz you about who the pass is from and why you're there. It's a library! Why do you think I'm here?
8. There's an activity fair in the beginning of the year where every club sets up a booth so the freshmen can see what they're interested in joining. All of the clubs want people to join so a lot of them will offer candy and baked goods. I think I signed up for 15 clubs that day, like many other freshmen not really knowing what I wanted. Don't be afraid to try out a few. Most upperclassmen use the activity period every Tuesday morning as an extra half hour to sleep in and don't end up belonging to a club at all. Some of the time I'll end up sitting in the secret hallway with friends.
High school will be both fun and challenging. I have learned to do things I never knew existed three years ago. (Also there is a way around the library pass thing.) You will have fun, just don't follow the wet footprints.
Your big sister Caroline
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Friday.