Congratulations to this year’s eighth graders! Here are 7 things that you should know before starting high school, according to high school students who have experienced it themselves.

1. Taking Advanced Classes

Higher level classes can be difficult, but worth the challenge. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Higher level classes can be difficult, but worth the challenge. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

When I was going to the high school, I was unaware of the advantages of taking honors and AP classes. As it turns out, your performance at the high school is where it really counts. These classes may sound hard and stressful, but it doesn’t hurt to challenge yourself–and you might be pleasantly surprised with your abilities. For more information, check in with your guidance counselors.

2. The School Store

The Viking Shop is located in the High School cafeteria. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
The Viking Shop is located in the High School cafeteria. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

Many new freshmen (and upperclassmen!) are unaware of the school store in the cafeteria. What many of them don’t know is that it sells all things North Shore: track shorts, hoodies, t-shirts, etc. It’s a useful shop, just in case you forgot your umbrella or pencils, or just need some snacks to get through your day.

3. Community Service

Give back and learn with community service. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Give back and learn with community service. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

You’re more privileged than you think. Give back by doing community service.

Towards the end of the year, freshmen and others are awarded for finishing a quota of 20 service hours and over. Helping the community not only makes high school enjoyable, but it also looks good on your college application. If you’re looking into performing community service, you can contact the community service director, Ms. Halloran.

4. The Library

Visit the North Shore High School library. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Visit the North Shore High School library. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

For those of you who indulge in comics and other literature, visiting the North Shore High School library is a must. It has a big collection of popular manga and comics, ranging from Kare Kano to Marvel. The librarians there are nice, unless you lose a book…

5. Free Time

Consider taking an elective at North Shore High School. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Consider taking an elective at North Shore High School. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

Many people say that you have more freedom of choice, and that is true. As a freshman, I was tempted to do so. However, not everything is cupcakes and rainbows, as fun as that may be.

You’ll have more freedom of choice in high school, but that choice comes with responsibility. You’ll need to take an art class for at least one school year, and you may need to take additional electives to meet requirements for graduation. There are other benefits to taking electives too: you could have fun, improve your grade average, look better to colleges, and discover new interests.

At the same time, if you have trouble managing time, you may want to consider taking study hall in ninth grade, or a free period in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade. Having time during school to complete your work is great—if you can focus.

6. Homework

Please do your homework. Please. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Please do your homework. Please. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

Speaking of focus, you’ll have more work to do in high school—and teachers aren’t going to chase you down for it. High school can be high stakes at times, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to put in more effort than you’re used to, especially if you’re taking a higher-level course load.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised with your ability to rise to the challenge.

7. Lockers

Stopping at your locker may become a thing of the past. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)
Stopping at your locker may become a thing of the past. (Drawing by Fiona Zhang)

I have no idea where my locker is. I’ve never opened it, and I don’t know the combination.

If you say that in middle school, you might even get in trouble. But because you’re allowed to keep your backpack with you during high school, the odds are high that you’ll find yourself saying that.

With that being said, you’ll probably want to at least write down your locker number and combination somewhere. You won’t need it as much, but it’ll come in handy for storing your textbooks, binders, and winter coat.


The transition from middle school to high school isn’t a small one. With it, you’ll receive more freedom and more responsibility.

The most important thing to know is that there are people to support you through this transition. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust—or leave a comment below.

This article was written and illustrated by 9th grade student Fiona Zhang. Other editors for The Viking Voice contributed reporting.

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