School Notebook: Students sound off on New Year's resolutions
The new year is a time for change. Newsday invited students who appeared in the weekly "Way to Go!" column during 2022 to answer this question: "What do you feel is the best New Year’s resolution that you and your peers can make to enhance your education?" Here is a sampling of their responses:
Rohan Chaudhry, senior at Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills
I have realized that my learning is deeper when I augment my classroom education with experiential learning experiences like an internship or a project that involves the application of the concepts grasped via textbooks.
I have had the opportunity to do two internships during high school. Last summer, I interned at a financial services company where I was able to apply my quantitative and analytical skills to solve real-world problems. That allowed me to see in action the concepts I learned in my calculus and my coding classes. In my current internship, with a local state assemblyman, I have learned how macro and micro economic principles are applied while looking at the impact of proposed legislation on small businesses.
I feel that the best New Year’s resolution for high school students is to get involved in hands-on experiences to supplement their classroom education.
Daniela Mare, senior at Sachem High School North, Lake Ronkonkoma
As college acceptance rates fall and competition between peers heightens, the pressure for students to push themselves to the limit is cyclically increasing. It feels as if external forces push us to our limit, but 2023 is the time to realize we are the sole contributors to the capacity of success.
There is but one factor over which we have complete control: our effort. As societal pressures make us feel as if we need to achieve perfection to be "successful students," we must remind ourselves that all we can do is try.
The first step to focusing on increased effort is to realize that effort itself is a fluid concept. One's maximum effort on one day may vary from the next, which is OK! It is the realization of that fluidity among us, the students, and the external forces that needs to be addressed in 2023.
Hailey Amato, freshman at Longwood High School, Middle Island
The best New Year's resolutions that me and my peers can make to enhance our education is to try new things. I am in special education, and sometimes new things are hard for me.
This year I am taking Spanish for the first time. It is not easy, but I am trying my best to do well and learn a new language. In high school I joined the Best Buddies club. At first I was nervous to go to high school, but the Best Buddies club is a lot of fun and I get to meet new friends there. I also joined Athletics For All. Once a month after school we travel to a different host school to try different activities like soccer, bowling and basketball.
I am glad I tried some new things to enhance my education, and you should try, too!
Sophia Segal, senior at Huntington High School
I believe that the best way to enhance my education and that of my peers is by increasing time-management skills. This year, I have really tried to improve my time management by creating a list of priorities and ranking them in order of importance.
Some of the specific factors I like to consider are when the assignment is due, how long I have to complete it and how difficult it is. These strategies allow me to effectively complete my tasks and assignments as it instills a sense of accomplishment and motivation. I always feel great excitement when I am able to complete something on my to-do list, and my stress significantly decreases when my critical tasks are completed. I believe that continuing to implement these skills will greatly help me and my peers, especially as we get ready for our college journeys!
Ella O’Connor, junior at Ward Melville High School, East Setauket
A good education can have myriad benefits, yet most students still feel negatively toward school because they are used to experiencing stress and exhaustion throughout the day. That doesn’t have to be the case.
The best New Year’s resolution students can make is to fulfill their academic obligations while honoring their happiness. The days will not always be easy, but there is something beautiful about having the opportunity to keep improving yourself. The easiest (and hardest!) way to maintain your happiness is to treat yourself with the respect you deserve. Don’t fall into a cycle of unhealthy behaviors because you believe that’s what it means to be dedicated.
There are healthy ways to succeed, it just takes work to discover them. Keep the simple joys of the day, like seeing friends or listening to music, in the front of your mind, and forgive yourself when you make mistakes.
Jake Lauto, senior at Elwood-John H. Glenn High School
I think that as a generation we need to be very organized, set rules for ourselves and break things down into smaller pieces. We really need organization because there are times when way too much is happening at once, and we get overloaded because of that. Therefore, we have to set rules for ourselves to keep from becoming overwhelmed.
Some good rules we should make are blocking out time for each responsibility we have, turning off our cellphones and prioritizing things correctly. When we are mentally organized and focused while we are working on intimidating homework as well as college applications and essays, we can easily break it all down and get it all done a little at a time. We can do this with peace of mind because we know that our own rules and organization have all of our other responsibilities accounted for.
Michael Keehner, junior at Sayville High School
I feel like the best New Year's resolution that can enhance my education as well as that of my peers would be communicating more efficiently. As a junior in high school, there are many times where I might not speak up if I am confused with a question. I have also been in conversations with friends where they also struggle in asking for help which results in bad assignment grades.
Going into the new year, it is important as students to make communication our top priority. One little step forward can make such a huge difference in our education and can benefit our futures if we do so. Self-advocacy also intertwines with communication as a whole and it allows students to become empowered in their decisions and to reach out to teachers for help with suffering grades.
Alistair Wright, senior at Friends Academy, Locust Valley
Students should not shy away from discussing important current events, even though their views might differ. Rather, they should engage in civil discourse, by which I mean sharing different ideas and viewpoints respectfully, and with an open mind.
Last year, I teamed up with my friend Charles to create a Civil Discourse Club at my school. The club has greatly expanded my understanding of politics and social affairs, as I have seen that civil discourse is not only exciting but an important factor in education.
Furthermore, unpopular ideas are often criticized in society, and students hide their thoughts and questions for fear of being attacked. However, by establishing a safe environment, everyone can grow without having to worry about saying the wrong thing.
In 2023, I challenge students to embrace civil discourse everywhere they go. Education doesn’t stem from answers, but from thoughtful discussions, evidence-based debates, and critical listening.
Namit Kapoor, senior at Herricks High School
We are constantly bombarded with information during the school day, but few of us actually relate our education to the world around us. Over the past year, I’ve attempted to do just that — use my accrued knowledge to guide me through real-world experiences.
This past summer, I oversaw Herricks Connected, a free summer camp for students in my district to entertain and engage young learners in my community. Additionally, during my time working in the Capitol as a U.S. Senate page, I often drew parallels between senators’ remarks and content from my AP Human Geography class (my favorite from high school), ranging from international geopolitical tensions to agricultural methods.
As I consider New Year’s resolutions my peers and I can make to enhance our education, I will continue to challenge myself and others to consider the practical implications of our knowledge and to use it while promoting positive change in our communities.
Cayden Volpe, senior at Wellington C. Mepham High School, Bellmore
From what I've learned after nearly four years of high school, it's most important to focus on yourself and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I spent most of my time worrying about what others thought about me and what I could do to become more likable. I lived for what others expected of me, drowning everything else out in the process.
No matter the insecurities or doubts you have, the best advice I could give is to live for yourself. Focus on your passions, your accomplishments and what drives you. High school is only a small fraction of the life you'll get to live, so don’t sweat the little things. Everyone knows the better mentality you have for yourself, the better your life will be. That is the promise you should make to yourself for the New Year. Don’t let the fear of others' judgment stop you from accomplishing something great.
Jessica Vartanov, senior at Jericho High School
The simple way to answer this question is just to start reading. Whether it's the daily news on your phone or a book from the library, reading can be highly beneficial because it is a great way to enhance your vocabulary and expand your imagination. In my opinion, students that read very often sound relatively more sophisticated than their peers because they are hyper-exposed to new words and phrases from the books they read.
Additionally, I have found that reading has allowed me to become a more out-of-the-box and creative thinker since books open my mind up to new things and will enable me to paint a picture of what is going on in the book. Every week I try to finish one book, which has truly elevated my education and knowledge to the next level.
Joseph Ciniglio, senior at Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick
Stop holding off on things, and take advantage of the opportunities you have. Seriously! I can't even count how many times my friends have told me they haven’t started their assignments yet. I’m not safe from it either, nor are you. However, this is a surprisingly easy problem to fix. Just start. That’s it. You could set a time; you could start after school. It's truly up to you, but your mind has to be willing to work. If you can’t get focused, take a step back and do something fun for a little bit, then get going!
Also, for those eight hours you are in school, try getting as much done as you can.! You're stuck there anyway, so you might as well. If you start doing assignments in school, your workload at home will be much lighter, and you can now focus on the things that truly matter to you.
Lauren Rochel, senior at Wantagh High School
To enhance your education this New Year, make a resolution to travel the world and learn about new cultures.
You actually don’t need a lot of money to "travel." Go to local museums and visit nearby monuments. Take a virtual field trip to different places in your hometown.
If you're fortunate enough, take a trip to a different country to learn firsthand about other cultures. Go to locations the locals love that aren’t tourist traps and experience the true nature of the place. Once in college, take the opportunity to study abroad. Happy travels this New Year!
Ava Blau, senior at Oceanside High School
Although education takes place in a classroom, the most important activities that will enhance one’s education happen outside of the classroom. I believe that by participating in extracurricular activities that you genuinely enjoy, your mind will be cleared by the stress that may come with school. As a result of being in a positive mindset, you will perform better in school.
The best New Year’s resolution that my peers and I can make is to get involved in activities that are good for our physical and mental health such as clubs and sports. As a senior, I reflect back on my high school experience and wish that I had had an outlet at times to help my mind in stressful school-related situations. I truly believe it would have enhanced my education experience in the classroom.
Ryan Baldwin, senior at Seaford High School
With the year coming to an end, I know many students wish to change their poor habits in education and are hoping to find ways to better themselves as a student. Something that everyone has been told is "to be well-rounded." However, some students may take on more than they can handle either academically or in extracurriculars.
A New Year’s resolution that I believe will prove to be beneficial is for students to find a balance between their education and their extracurriculars. When a student focuses too heavily on either one of these aspects, they tend to lack in the other. For example, in my Freshman year, I put nearly all of my efforts into my academics and barely involved myself in the clubs that my school had to offer — and I felt unfulfilled. I recommend challenging yourself academically and non-academically, to an extent, in order to enjoy both.