Dear member of the class of 2023,

I was in high school along time ago. Bananarama's version of "Venus" was #1 on the pop chart and "Stand By Me" was #1 at the box office. We all got our music on records or cassettes and our only access to a computer was in the high school's computer room. Word processing and the ability to write, erase and edit what you wrote was a pretty big deal. That gives you a little bit of a clue to how old I am. That said, I think I've picked up some wisdom about high school I can share with you.

  • The kid that's friendly to you in your English class that you have something in common with. Be friends with him or her. Mine was the first friend I made at my high school and he's still my best friend to this day.
  • Take your classes seriously, especially if you think you might want to go to college. Here's a dirty little secret, college isn't very hard if you apply yourself in high school. Granted, I was a communications major who wanted to get on the radio, so I wasn't studying rocket science. But college will be easier if you put the work into your high school classes.
  • Take four years of foreign language. You then won't have to go back and take more foreign language unless you want to.
  • I went to an all guys Catholic High School and the school held "mixers", or casual school dances where the guys could meet girls from other schools. That's not the important part. If your school has informal dances where you can go hang out with friends, have fun, and maybe meet other students. Go to them, especially as underclassmen. They're fun.
  • Get involved in something, anything. I did two high school plays. And I served as a student trainer / manager for the football and track teams. It's fun and it expanded my circle of friends.
  • Start a band, a country group, a rap group. Anything that will get you and your friends to hang out and have fun. We enjoyed dreaming of being rock stars. Never happened and we weren't very good... but the memories and fun we had related to "our band" I'll never forget.
  • I know the world's changed a lot and if you're college bound there's a motivation to be INVOLVED in a lot of different things to make your application stronger. But...  take time to just hang out with friends. Listen to music on the porch with your friends while shooting the shit. Go to the movies. Find some places to go out to eat. When you get your license, go exploring in the family truckster you're parents let you drive.
  • Befriend upperclassmen with a car. My buddy Jeff was involved in our church's scouting program, which had a co-ed explorer troop made up of high school age boy and girl scouts. He introduced me to some of guys and girls he knew, and they had licenses and cars. We'd make it a point many weekend nights to hook up with them sometimes to go places our ten speeds wouldn't take us.
  • Get the rectangle pizza in the cafeteria. I don't know what it is, but you'll never have pizza like that again after you leave high school. It's not that good, but it's not that bad. I got kind of addicted to it.
  • Everyone hates getting naked to change into their gym clothes. Do they make people do that anymore? Best advice, suck it up, change as quickly as possible and realize everyone's as self conscious as you are about changing in front of other folks.
  • Try to get a few classes or a study hall with the popular teachers. The ones who get raved about. They'll help you find your passion and more often than not make part of your day fun. Take a few classes from notoriously tough teachers. They'll help you develop good study skills and call you on your B.S.
  • If you get to senior year with no detentions... don't tell anyone. There are teachers who will give you one just to make sure "you have the experience."  That said, whether you deserve it or not, serving a detention will develop character.

Don't sweat it. It's not forever, it's four years. Some of you will love the experience. Some of you will hate the experience. Some of you will go on to be proud alumni. Others will roll your eyes every time the school reaches out with the alumni newsletter. It's OK to feel however you feel about the experience.

And by the time 2053 comes along, probably well before, no one's going to care what actually happened to you in high school. The bond of being in that place. With those teachers. With those fellow students. The big picture of getting through it between 2019-2023 and being part of that collective experience regardless of how you feel or felt about it, that's a bond.

So one last piece of advice. This one is for 2033 or beyond.

You may lose track of your high school friends. Especially if you move to the city. Head somewhere else for college. Or if your career takes you someplace else. Reconnect with your high school buds. As you get older, especially into your 40's and 50's you'll find you need them.

I've done just that. And every few months we gather to enjoy a meal and shoot the shit. We talk about everything: The road less traveled some of us took. Teachers we loved. Teachers we loved to hate. Our kids. Wine and Beer. Baseball. Music. Politics. The state of the world. Everything. And there's always room for another fellow alum at the table.

Good luck,

-Rob (class of 1990)

What advice would you impart to the class of 2023? Leave your advice in the comments. 


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