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Advice for New Mustangs

by Kaleigh Steigman

Students, teachers, and administrators at Monticello alike agree that Monticello High School, despite its impressive size and more impressive population, is a wonderful place to be once you have adjusted to it.

Transition issues, such as students finding their way around the building, or figuring out their schedules, are unavoidable, and will work themselves out within the first few weeks. During this period, it is important for students to try and find friends, places they feel comfortable, and activities they might be interested in joining.

Students will find that becoming a Mustang is a process, as most adjustments are, but they will soon be absorbed into the thriving community there.

“A Mustang is a student, teacher or staff member who is positive, who works collaboratively with others, who has a growth mindset, and is involved somehow in the community,” said ninth grade administrator, Assistant Principal Ashby Johnson.

From day one, it is important for students to know that the transition to Monticello High School will be as simple or as hard as they make it.

Mr. Poindexter, an English teacher of 9th and 11th graders, offers advice to freshmen. “I try to encourage them to find something that interests them and get involved. That’s the best way to make friends: find people who have a common interest as you.”

Teachers and administrators offer different approaches of getting involved so students may choose what works best for them.

“I got involved in a sport every season. I wish I had gotten into something besides sports as well,” said Johnson, who was a former three-sport athlete. “The number of opportunities at Monticello really gives kids the chance to pick and choose what they want to do. I would recommend getting connected to something, but not just that one thing – try something new.The freshman that have had the best transition have had a connection with something other than their academic classes.”

While the majority of students know that it is important to find friends, according to Johnson, the most important thing a student can do is to “find an adult that you connect with, and feel supported by.”

“The staff is really positive, collaborative, willing to try new things, and really wanting to make sure they reach every kid,” she said.

Academically, high school is a time to thrive. “Keep in mind how important these four years are, both academically and personally,” said Mr. Poindexter. “There is so much growth that happens, and I know that people say enjoy it because you won’t get it back, and that is true, but more than anything keep in mind that what you do know does have a significant impact on your future.”

He also stressed how it affects students as people. “High school is where you start to get to know yourself. It is when the transition from being a kid to a young adult it made. Listen to your gut when in doubt, be a leader, don’t just follow the pack,” he recommended.

When each student steps through the doors of Monticello for the first time, it is sometimes easy to forget that thousands of students have gone through the same situations and understand what they are going through.

Like many students before him, junior, Cole S., was nervous about high school. “I was expecting to not have any of my friends in lunch with me, and I didn’t want to sit by myself in a big, unfamiliar area,” he said. Now, he is a full supporter of the Mustang community. “Monticello is a great school. The teachers are really nice, they won’t just give you work to give you work. The Football Team isn’t made of bullies, the cheerleaders aren’t bullies, everyone is mostly nice to each other, and people get along. I like the freedom, and the people and everything about it.”

Although Monticello provides a great environment for students and many opportunities, it isn’t perfect. Johnson discussed several programs that she is hoping to create in the future to make these transitions easier, especially for kids who aren’t fortunate enough to start school with everyone else, like transfers. She also stressed the importance of freshmen joining the Fresh Start program, as this will give them a much needed boost.

Students starting Monticello might feel nervous or excited, and that’s normal, but Johnson encourages them, “Give it a hundred percent, no matter what that looks like, be patient with the teachers, but also with themselves, (and know) that they aren’t going to turn into High School students on the first week.”

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