Health & Family

Helping incoming freshmen navigate high school

Take a deep breath, freshmen. High school is here.

Now that you've finally made it, you have lots of fun things to look forward to. Picture yourself meeting new friends, eating lunch off campus, getting your driver's license and hanging out at football games.

Sound cool? Well, don't start making fun of eighth-graders just yet. High school also can be a pretty scary place.

Have you ever had a 17-year-old ogre with a full beard slam you up against a locker? What if that girl who gives you butterflies laughs in your face when you ask her to a movie? And you'd better hope you don't get an embarrassing nickname — you could be branded a dweeb for the next four years.

Remembering high school all too well ourselves, we're here to help you.

Figuring those “Worst Case Scenario” books pretty much sum up the experience, we asked counselors, principals and upperclassmen to help us compile steps needed to survive any likely scenario.

So take this article, cut it out and post it inside your locker for future reference. But don't let anyone else see it.

That would be a major dweeb move.

SCENARIO NO. 1

A bully throws you up against a locker and threatens bodily injury.

1. Stand your ground. Most bullies can't handle people who stand up for themselves and would rather pick on a weak student.

2. Assess the situation to see if anyone else might be able to help.

3. Tell the bully you don't want to fight and walk away.

4. If the bully begins striking you, cover your head with your arms, yell “Stop it!” loud enough for teachers to hear and try to wrestle with the bully — keeping his arms from hitting you — until someone else arrives.

5. Talk to a teacher or administrator afterward and tell them what happened. Often an administrator will be able to tell the bully someone else saw the incident and reported it. That way you won't be labeled a snitch.

6. In the future, try to avoid the bully and hang out in crowds since bullies are less likely to strike with witnesses around.

SCENARIO NO. 2

You've just discovered there's an evil rumor circulating about you.

1. Don't talk about the rumor, but try to squelch it as soon as possible.

2. When you hear the rumor, tell the person spreading it that it's not true and change the conversation.

3. If you know someone is spreading the rumor, but don't catch the person in the act, confront that person and tell them it's not true and that you want them to stop spreading the rumor.

4. Remember that most rumors will pass. But in some cases, one will stick, so head it off if you can.

5. Don't spread rumors about others; it could come back to haunt you.

SCENARIO NO. 3

During a test, someone tries to cheat off your paper.

1. Move your arm or your paper so the person can't see your answers.

2. Pretend you don't even see the person cheating and don't acknowledge the person during the test or afterward.

3. Don't tell on the person or you'll be labeled a snitch.

SCENARIO NO. 4

You want to ask someone on a date, but fear the person will say no, and then everyone will find out you were rejected.

1. Get to know the person you're interested in to get a feel for what the answer might be. Hanging out with the person in a group of friends is the best way to do this.

2. Ask the person's friends if the person likes you enough to go out on a date.

3. Ask the person. You'll never get a date unless you ask.

4. If you get turned down, brush it off. At least you tried. Everyone gets rejected sometime.

SCENARIO NO. 5

You suspect your teacher doesn't like you, and you worry this might

affect your grade.

1. Most teachers are tough at the beginning of the year and mellow as the year progresses. Wait it out until you feel strongly that the relationship is troublesome.

2. If you've done all the work you're supposed to do and still feel the teacher doesn't like you, talk to the teacher after class and state your concerns, saying you're worried the relationship will impact your grade.

3. If this still doesn't work, talk to a counselor. If need be, the counselor can change your schedule so you won't have the teacher any more.

SCENARIO NO. 6

You're shy about your body, and you don't want to shower in front of other people.

1. Showers are not required at all schools, so you can just use deodorant.

2. If you're really sweaty, put a towel around yourself as you undress. Wear the towel until you reach the shower, take it off and quickly place it back on once you are done. Slip your clothes on underneath the towel.

3. Another option: Wear a swimsuit in the shower.

SCENARIO NO. 7

All your friends are going to a dance, and you don't have a date.

1. Get a group of friends who also don't have dates and go to the dance anyway. Many students attend dances solo.

2. While at the dance, see if there is someone you might be interested in asking to dance. Dances can be a good place to find a date.

3. Don't dwell on finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just have fun, and meeting dates will occur naturally.

SCENARIO NO. 8

Someone you don't like starts hanging around with you, but you don't want to be mean.

1. Give the person subtle hints, but don't outright tell them you don't want to be friends. If you don't invite the person to a place you're visiting with friends, the person will probably get the hint.

2. Avoid them as much as possible, and don't talk to them as much as you would your friends.

SCENARIO NO. 9

There's only one seat left on the bus, and the other person sitting there says it's saved.

1. Continue to stand beside the seat until the bus driver sees you.

2. Once the bus driver tells you that you have to sit down, blame the driver and tell the person you have to sit there.

SCENARIO NO. 10

You don't have a date for the prom, and you don't want to spend money to go without one.

1. Don't just stay home and mope — find a friend or family member who also will be home and hang out.

2. Do something fun that you wouldn't normally do — see a concert or play, do an art project. Many students find the prom overrated anyway.

3. Remember afterward how much money you've saved by not going.

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© 2008, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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