The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The first-ever Heights Herald freshman guide to success

Freshmen stereotypically get looked down upon by upperclassmen, but The Heights Herald (which for the first time is featuring 9th graders on staff) is here to break the cycle.
Atinan Anwar
Freshmen stereotypically get looked down upon by upperclassmen, but The Heights Herald (which for the first time is featuring 9th graders on staff) is here to break the cycle.

Every year, Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) admits an estimated 300 freshmen. Think about it for a second — that’s 300 new faces, 300 confused people and 300 fresh minds. It can be a lot to navigate, and it can even be scary or overwhelming for some. So, The Heights Herald is giving a guide to your first year of high school at CHHS. 

First off, you won’t stay enrolled at CHHS for very long if you fail all your classes, so it’s important you know how grading works. The biggest change from middle school to high school is that your grades actually carry more weight now, and colleges will be looking at them in the future, so you have to stay on top of your work. At CHHS, grade point averages (GPAs) are based on the 4.0 scale, with an A equaling four, B equaling three, C equaling two, D equaling one and F equaling zero. 

But your GPA isn’t the only thing to take into consideration. In order to graduate, you need 27 credits in total: four English credits, three math and science credits and three-and-a-half social studies credits. You’ll also need ten elective credits, one physical education credit, half of a health credit, one practical arts credit and one fine arts credit. One semester equals half of a credit (0.5). To stay on track and graduate on time, you should take one or two core classes from each of the aforementioned categories every year. If you take a full load of classes (eight credits total) and pass all of them your first two years of high school, you should be able to have a year-long study hall during your junior and senior years.

Speaking of staying on track, Link Crew is here to help. This extracurricular group is dedicated to helping new students, run by Mrs. Jennifer Mac and Ms. Maddie Kuehn. Link Crew helps new and incoming students navigate CHHS, with upperclassmen running orientation in August and helping students at Open House in September. Asking a Link Crew member for help at these kinds of events is an excellent way to become familiar with the school, its staff and one’s peers.

How should you stay organized? The best way to stay organized and not fail is to not procrastinate. If you have missing work, do not put it off, and if you need help in a subject, schedule a day to stay after school with your teacher or go to the Homework Center. Located in the Media Center and available for students to utilize and gain additional help and resources from teachers, Homework Center is open 3:15 until 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Most of the time, if you pay attention in class and participate, you will succeed as long as you do the work. Planners and calendars, either digital or physical, are also a great way to keep all your information in order and set reminders for important due dates or keep track of upcoming tests. 

“What I did to stay organized [as a freshman] was write things down that I had to complete for the day,” Cristian Barrera (12) said. “Whether it was homework or an event I had to attend, I wrote it all down in a planner.”.

Excellent online resources include Notion, Google Reminders, Google Calendar, Quizlet and Khan Academy. Notion is used to sort and layout what you have to do for the upcoming weeks. It is essential to jot down current and upcoming assignments, so Google Reminders is also a great asset, as you can set timers and reminders that will inform you for any assessments due soon. Google Calendar works in union with Google Reminders but allows you to see and organize longer term planning, especially with partners for group work. Khan Academy has tutorials and videos on all kinds of subjects and is often recommended by the math department. They include a variety of subjects that will further expand your knowledge and deepen your understanding. Khan Academy also offers free practice sheets, quizzes, SAT practice and extra homework practice. Among all available online resources, don’t forget you can also ask your teachers for additional sources such as study guides and extra worksheets for their class. 

“My best advice would be to stay on top of your work and focus on your academics because if you can stay on top of your work, you won’t get behind,” CHHS English teacher Ms. Rachel Mann said.

There are many clubs and activities at CHHS too. If you missed out on fall sports like soccer, volleyball or girls’ tennis, consider registering now for winter sports like boys and girls’ basketball or boys swim and dive. And after the snow melts, keep an eye and ear out for spring athletic opportunities like boys’ tennis, track and field and more.

Clubs and activities are another great way to make friends and learn about new subjects! Some activities you could join include speech, where a group of students compete in public speaking, Chess Club and Science Bowl, where you learn and compete in science trivia for you biology and chemistry nerds! 

You could also take fun classes during the school day. If you are into music and theater you can join Choir or Band, which are year-long electives. If you love writing, you can join Journalism (and become a part of The Heights Herald). CHHS also offers a variety of science and art electives like Anatomy and Physiology, Pottery and Photography. If you love to be in front of the camera (or behind!), you can also join TV/Media, which creates the school’s broadcasts Hylander News Network (HNN) Morning Show and Showcase. There are also a plethora of hands-on electives to choose from, whether it be Mobile App Design that strikes your fancy, or Woodworking if you’re more into drills and bandsaws. These are just some fun new ways to explore your interests in high school.

High school is a strange but fun time. Between classes and activities, it can be a lot to do and worry about. Navigating a new place is always difficult but that’s why this guide was created — to help you. And maybe, just maybe, you can help next year’s freshmen become CHHS experts!

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About the Contributor
Atinan Anwar, Staff Writer
Atinan Anwar is a sophomore at CHHS and this is her first semester as a part of The Heights Herald staff. She is also a part of Student Council. She plays on the tennis and track & field teams too. Her hobbies include reading, painting and taking walks with her family!