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This is the year to be happy to be back in school

Public school starts Friday. You’re pulling the supplies, the new clothes, the technology together and catching up with buddies. Now, how is the attitude? I know for a fact that some of you are quite glad to be going back to a place created to help you prepare for your future. I know that some are going with the attitude of it being, “OK, yes, I know I need it, but I’d rather be elsewhere.” And some have dread. So let’s shake that fear out and learn to make going to school work for you because that is what the ones who like school have done.

They have projected a future for themselves and learned what requirements are necessary to attain it. They have reviewed what classes in the school curriculum will help them best get these requirements for their goals and have the attitude, “I am creating my future success.” It doesn’t matter what field. It can be technology, art, writing, mechanics, music, athletics, government, home economics, business, etc. These folks have some idea of what they want and are working toward it. These will be the ones who will go get help when they are stuck not understanding something presented in a class.

The math of school hours: You go to school 180 days. That’s less than half a year. You go for about six and a half hours a day, and some of that time is lunch and recess. So you are in class less than one fourth of a day. There is still time to pursue the things you love around school hours. The resistance some feel to being told what to do for such a long period of time can change if you decide that what you are doing is what you want to do. Make it fun. I know that kids in some classes at Kauai Community College buddy up and do homework together.

Your parents/caregivers work hard to support you and stay responsible for you. That is their job. Going to school is yours.

If you’re going to a school for the first time it can be intimidating. Just remember that every upperclassman, and every teacher and staff member were all in your shoes once. The first day at school will help you prepare for your first day at work.

There is a website with suggestions on how to survive high school. It even has pictures. Here are some of the highlights with my additions:

Develop the right relationships. Make friends with different groups of people. Avoid making friends who want to put you down and make you feel bad about yourself. Stand up for yourself if you get bullied. Get help if you need it, otherwise it will be a long four years. Be friendly with teachers, but don’t suck up to them. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Keep in mind that they might write a recommendation for you when you want your first job.

Be a great student. Do the homework. If you focus on it, it’ll get done faster. Some kids even read at mealtimes and some study on the bus. If you’re sick, have a friend bring home your missed work. Pay attention during class. Take notes. Then, when a test comes up, you’ll have the important facts at hand. Find a friend who is great in a subject that is tough for you, and ask for help. 

Study with friends. Keep your grades up. If you flunk a test, ask the teacher what you can do to bring your grade up.

wBe on time. It shows teachers you’re interested in their class. If you’re late for a class, you have to get a tardy slip and miss out on more class time. On test days, show up a bit earlier to get yourself organized.

Stay focused. Even if you are not motivated one day, one day of missed learning can create trouble when the next day builds on the concept you didn’t get the day before. 

Don’t talk to other students in class. It is rude and disrespectful to others who want to learn. You have 17 and a half hours outside of class time to chat.

Get organized. Use some kind of a planner or APP to keep track of the amount of time you need to study. Plan some down and relaxation times into your schedule. Record all long term project dates and any meetings you have. 

Keep your binders and your locker organized. Lock up valuables. Some kids have extra clothes in case of spills, and some have their own first aid kits and snacks.

Get involved. Join a club or activity if you can. Colleges and employers look for them, and you’ll meet people with similar interests. 

Go to some school games, pep rallies, dances, and other events. It will help build a sense of school community, and help you make friends.

Stay healthy. Exercise! It actually helps your mind work better, and helps you sleep. Get enough sleep, even if it is tempting to stay up late and do something fun. 

You’re still growing, and that requires sleep. If you need energy drink, go to bed one half hour earlier. Join a sport if you can. Team spirit rocks, and you’ll get a workout. 

Eat fruits and veggies, as well as good proteins and some carbos. Drink plenty of water.

Possibly the greatest learning in public schools is how to get along with all kinds of people, including people in authority. All over the U.S., kids learn about different ethnic and social groups in high school. 

If you can remember to live by the “Character Traits” that were posted in your classes in elementary school, you’ll have a good chance of being successful in your relationships.

In case you need a reminder, here they are: respect, responsibility, compassion, cooperation, friendly, self-discipline, perseverance, friendship, honesty. Next week we’ll go into these in a little detail.

Onward to beautiful, meaningful futures everyone! Have a great year, and remember that it’s OK to ask for help if you need it for anything. Before long, you’ll be the helper.


Annaleah Atkinson is a volunteer with Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i, a support group for teens and their families. Email your questions or concerns to


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