The year before I moved to Princeton, I remember sitting on the floor of my middle school gym and talking to a few of my eighth grade friends. I had revealed that I wouldn’t be attending high school with them, and they were giving me some advice on moving.
“I read a book about a girl who completely reinvented herself when she moved schools. You should do that, Karina!”
It sounded appealing. For eighth grade me, Princeton represented a clean slate, a potential to re-create my reputation.
The summer before freshman year, I left my old hometown in North Carolina and settled down in Princeton. Like many rising freshmen, I was stressed. I worried about whether or not people I met would appreciate the “new” me. More than that, I was concerned about finding a group of friends in this larger school.
These social concerns quickly faded once I started school. I became distracted by classwork, new teachers, and clubs, all while attempting to navigate the maze-like hallways. I forgot all about my new vision of myself I had set out to achieve.
Entering my senior year, I realize reinvention is a difficult thing to force. Despite my forgotten plan for reinvention, I have evolved naturally during high school.
I have discovered interests I never knew I had, a new set of skills, and new friends. Many of these discoveries stemmed from my participation in extracurricular activities that are offered by both PHS and the town of Princeton.
Three years later, coming from middle school where I was only involved in cross country, I now participate in community service projects, contribute to school publications, and conduct scientific research. While I did have to expose myself to these opportunities, none of these new interests, friends, or communities were forced. PHS creates an environment in which students can’t help but learn, evolve, and mature.
For those of you who are coming to PHS without an established group of friends, you will soon find them. They probably won’t be the first people you meet, but your community may fall right into your lap when you attend that first club meeting, or when your English teacher assigns you a group project. Remember that there are many other people just like you who don’t know anyone and are looking for people to meet and a group of friends to hang out with.
However, many more of you are already coming to PHS with a group of friends because you have built a community for yourself in middle school. No matter how close you are, this new environment will stir things up. You may grow apart from some friends, and you will definitely make new ones. I guarantee that by the end of freshman year, you’ll look at the community of people surrounding you and realize that it is not the same as it was at the beginning.
To all incoming freshmen, newcomers or lifelong Princetonians, one of the most important things to do in the next four years at PHS is to find your high school community. Roam the club fair alone. Join clubs you are truly interested in, not just the ones your current friends sign up for. Try the sport that you’ve always wanted to. Strike up a conversation with the person you sit next to in history class.
No matter who you are or aspire to be, there is a perfect place for you at PHS. As my experience as a new student shows, rather than forcing yourself into that place, you will wake up one day and suddenly realize that you are already there. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your freshman year!