By Mary Ann Poladian
College Readiness Regional Counselor for Orange and San Diego Counties
Welcome to the new school year! On behalf of our teachers and staff, we welcome our new students and welcome back our returning students. We are excited about beginning this school year and for the opportunities that lie ahead to learn, grow and make new memories.
You are about to start on a new learning adventure. This is the right time and the right place for you! Halstrom Academy is uniquely designed so that every one of our students is known, seen and belongs. Belonging is the foundation for a healthy environment, a safe place to learn and for community. It’s part of what makes Halstrom a special place to learn and grow.
To kick off our school year, I thought you’d like to hear from some of our recent graduates. These graduates were recent students, just as you once were. They all had some classes that came easier and some that were more difficult. They had great days and some not-so-great days.
At graduation, these students reflected on their time at Halstrom and on what they learned. They asked us to share their insights with the incoming Fall ’18 class. We selected one theme of student advice from each of our regional graduations. I hope you find these comments from Halstrom alumni helpful as we embark on this new school year (student comments are in quotes).
1. “Halstrom gave me chance to start over. It was a new beginning for me”. All of our graduates once attended traditional schools with large classrooms, but that format was not how they learned best – for a variety of reasons. “This year was my opportunity to clear away all the noise and the distractions of my former school and focus on learning. I was surprised to discover how much I could learn. You will be surprised how much you can learn too.” You have the opportunity to start fresh, make new friends, and develop healthy habits. This year is your new opportunity. (San Diego Graduates)
2. “This community became my community”.At Halstrom, every student is known and belongs. We encourage our students to join clubs, try leadership roles and make friends. “I used to think I could do everything by myself. I had isolated myself at my former school, but here I started making friends and even got to know my teachers. I found I did better in school and was happier. It took me awhile to realize that we all need healthy relationships, and I needed to join into my community. Jump into your school and you will see that you belong.” (Los Angeles Graduates)
3. “It took a lot of effort at times”. Our Orange County graduates reminded us that every day was not an easy day. Looking back on their high school experiences, they realized that it took effort, sometimes a lot of effort, to do well. They had to practice, study and sometimes ask for help. But, looking back, it was worth it. “Failing at something is not failing. It is just part of how you learn. At Halstrom, I learned that I had to try and to be willing to make mistakes and then fix the mistakes and try again. I got comfortable with getting answers right and wrong. It’s all just part of learning. My advice to new students: Keep trying and keep learning. You can do it too.” (Orange County Graduates)
4. “I feel prepared and excited to go to college, and that is a big change from where I started”. What I loved about hearing this from our Bay Area student was that when he enrolled at Halstrom, he marked ‘not sure’ about attending college. After three years at Halstrom, he developed good study skills and gained confidence. He was accepted by every college to which he applied. “Give yourself a chance to see what you can do. Give yourself time to learn and grow and change. You never know what might be possible. For me and for you, more is possible than we first think.” (Bay Area Graduate)
5. “Enjoy the journey. Enjoy your high school days. Don’t just count them down”. We heard this theme from every group of graduates. “Make the most of every day. Make friends and help people and be welcoming. You will make memories here that you will carry into the next phase of your life.” We think that is great advice.
You never know what might be possible. That is why all of us at Halstrom Academy love learning and value education. We know that learning is the gateway to all future possibilities. Whether your next stop is Stanford or Notre Dame or University of California or Community College or Juilliard or a gap year, this new school year is the opportunity to prepare and grow. We are excited to be on this journey of learning with you.
Here’s to an incredible academic year and to learning together!