Madeline Hopper '21
Sitting in the car driving to the first day of school, I nervously played with my hair while talking to my mom about how excited I was to start at NCS. For the whole duration of the drive, I babbled on about the friends I’d made at Prep for Success and sports tryouts. The truth is, I wasn’t trying to update my mom of my newfound friendships, rather, I was trying to convince myself that at a new school in a new city, maybe I wouldn’t be alone.
As we pulled up to the curb in Hearst Circle, I was freaked the hell out. I wandered around the halls on my first day searching for familiar faces but trying my hardest not to look directly at anyone I perceived as un upperclassmen.
My freshman year was rough. I did not do too hot academically. I sat on a basketball and then lacrosse bench for two seasons. I struggled to branch out of my “new girl” friend group.
Now that I’m a senior I look back on my first year fondly. I remember the 41% I got on my first Spanish test and laugh. I cringe thinking about the amount of money I spent on Open City. But mostly, I think about the teachers who fostered my love of learning and friends who have supported me through it all.
I know this is a little bit cheesy (sorry). But, being off the Close for so long has allowed me to reflect on my past three years here thus far. Upon reflecting, I now have some advice for my past self, advice I hope you can take for yourself.
1. Do something you’ve never done before in the first semester of upper school. Join a club, audition for a singing group, or play a sport you’ve never played before. Doing something new will get you out of your comfort zone, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to your new classmates. If you’re a bad singer, audition for acapella. If you’ve never dribbled a basketball, try out for the team anyway (seriously do this we need more girls playing).
Learn how to lose yourself in supporting others, whether that’s staying up late to help a friend on a thesis idea or showing up to a game to support your classmates. There is not a lot of extra time in the school day; however, one of the most rewarding ways to spend it is by showing up for your classmates.
3. Lose yourself in helping others, as aforementioned, but do not forget who you are. The Close can be a challenging place to be. There are so many people with incredible talents and gifts, but trust you are one of them. Your values, your hobbies, your passions shouldn’t be swept away in an attempt to conform.
4. Stay late after class to talk to your teachers, they are your biggest supporter and your best ally. Your teachers want you to do well, even if it might feel like it at first. Showing up a few minutes early to class or staying a few minutes after allows you to have personal, meaningful connections.
5. Don’t do work on Saturdays.
Being on the Close flies by, so far it has been the most influential three years of my life. It stretched me in ways I couldn’t have even imagined walking into Hearst on my first day.
I hope you take my advice, see if it works for you. Mostly, though, I hope you cherish your time here, understanding that it goes by so quickly.