An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sherifat S. '21

Dear freshman Sherifat,

First things first, congratulations for making it through the middle school, but you’re in for a treat! I know you’ve been anxiously waiting to be a freshman, so now’s your time to really explore different interests and activities. You have two older sisters that have been through freshman year at Lakeside, so continue to annoy them with your questions. As your future self, I’m pleased to say that you’ve successfully found your way through high school and you’ve made your mark, but I have a few tips to make the most of your journey over these next three years. 

My first piece of advice for you is to take advantage of the opportunities the school offers, especially the ones out of your comfort zone. So, this means to check your email. Ninth grade is the year to sign up for things like the Women in STEM fair and the SAC (Student Awareness Council) Retreat. This is the time to say yes! In the process, you’ll make so many more connections with other students and teachers. I’m proud to say that this year you’ll agree to facilitate a discussion on Media Representation with a group of students; a task that gave you so much anxiety, but was worth it in the end. You will find new passions that’ll lead to some travel, and many more surprises that I don’t want to ruin for you. 

Take breaks! High school can and will feel overwhelming. At some point, you're going to want to complain to your friends about how stressed you are and how you only got 4 hours of sleep, but it’s okay to not be doing school work at all moments. Your teachers will understand, I repeat, your teachers will understand! If you have a long free, go take a nap! I recommend the silent reading room in the library or the counseling center. Spend some of your lunches not talking about the tests and essays you have due; instead, talk about the latest news in pop culture. Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health, and ensuring you fit scheduled breaks in and out of school will keep you sane. 

Even though I just told you to take breaks, I need you to stay focused on your schoolwork and put forth your best effort. You are at Lakeside for a reason, so don’t be afraid to speak up during the awkward silences in discussions or volunteer to go first for a presentation. Take risks in the classroom. I know it’s easier said than done, believe me, but once you make a conscious effort to put yourself out there, you’ll find that there’s really nothing scary about any of it. 

As a freshman, I know your emotions are all over the place and you look for what’s to come. You will go through the ups and downs of high school, but your experiences will only make you a stronger young black woman. Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to share your greatness with the Lakeside community!

Your future self