Story by Mannan Mehta '18
Lunch: For the most part at STA, Freshmen are treated as equals. However, all that changes at lunch. Lunch at St. Albans is a cutthroat place, full of sophomores and upperclassmen who, it’ll seem, have it out for you. They’ll breathe down your neck, watching your every move until the minute you try and harvest the last drop of water from that jug chock full of ice and all the ice spills. If you can’t hold your own, you will find yourself clearing the table, day in and day out. On the subject, if you are a scrawny freshman, always opt for taking up rather than scraping. Yes, you may have to make more trips to return trays, bowls and cups, but it is much better than the feeling you get when you realize you won’t be able to make it to the kitchen with those fifteen plates growing heavier and heavier, or worse, dropping a lone fork off the top of the pile and watching as no one reaches down to help you (yes, you’re gonna have to leave it behind). In short, get smart quick, or you won’t survive in the hostile refectory.
Dress Code: You will learn quickly that dress code is only really enforced by a certain few (you will figure out who they are) teachers. Blazers on, ties all the way up, top button buttoned, hence the acronym TBAT (top button and tie). If you’re a stump and have trouble getting that last button done up, it’s time for a bigger shirt. Following the dress code is really not that hard, and should become habit after a while. If you don’t catch on, you may find yourself on your way to the Form III dean. She’ll give you a slap on the wrists and you’ll be on your way, but it’s best to avoid this altogether.
Cellphones: As my time serving on the student council taught me, it’s really extremely confusing coming up with the policy. The policy was never quite done, and no one ever really agreed on anything. Just be smart with your cell phone, avoid using it in class, and whatever you do, don’t pull it out in front of a teacher. When you are in an area you aren’t supposed to be using your phone, and a teacher arrives for a daily “cell-phone raid”, just shove your device under your thigh, look the other way, and try not to laugh as a friend desperately explains, “I was just checking my schedule”. If you need to “check your schedule” in an undesignated area, keep your eyes peeled, or say goodbye to your phone until 2:45 PM.
Behavior: Watch your mouth in open areas. Avoid profanities, especially in the sky lounge, because that place is actually just an extended hallway. It’s never any fun when you loudly drop an f-bomb three times and the school receptionist suddenly appears right behind you (true story).
Dances: Shying away from general etiquette, dances are a major part of the culture here on the Close. Everyone is encouraged to go, and to bring a date with them. Going stag is a possibility, but is never really the best thing to do. Put yourself out there. Meet someone, and don’t be afraid to ASK them. Trust me, even if the person you ask is thoroughly grossed out by you, I promise that they will be happy to at least get the chance to go to the dance. Rejection doesn’t really exist, unless you are so clued out that you didn’t realize the person has been asked already. Chances are you won’t know very many members on the other side of the Close. In fact, you may only know one or two, especially if you are new. Here’s the insider tip: Go to NCS homecoming. Talk to people there and get to know someone. Don’t stand in a corner on your phone hoping someone is going to approach you because PSA: they won’t (unless your last name is Starr or Potter). Point is, if you put yourself out there , you will meet people, earn yourself a date, and have a good time at homecoming. Or you can not go, and then scroll through Instagram the next day as your feed is clogged with captions like “Hoco 2k16” or “Thanks for the great night!”.Your choice.
Real Talk: In all seriousness, prioritize academics over all else. Scheming and athletics should come second. During the first quarter, you may not be on your best foot (trust me, a 46 on an Odyssey quiz taught me never to rely solely on Sparknotes - crack the book open from time to time), but it will get better. Don’t forget that everyone in the upper school is currently going through, or has previously gone through the same experience. Buckle down, focus up and put school first, but don’t forget to have fun once in awhile. These next four years ahead of you will be (hopefully) some of your most memorable and (probably) most formative years. So unless you peaked in 8th grade, get ready because this year is only the beginning. High school will be over before you know it, so make the most of your time at STA. Good luck.