Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 by Robert Morgan
Presidential elections, Olympic games, and leap years – four years seem to be a popular time for new things to come about. So much change happens in four years, yet we don’t realize that these changes occur until we look around and see that we are only a couple of months away from graduation and think “how in the world did I end up here”.
High school is such a difficult time, partly due to the changes that happen. One of the biggest changes that students face is within their own group of friends. Many students create new friendships through organizations, such as sports and within the fine arts, because of the countless hours they put in practicing and being on the road together, but what about those students who aren’t in a sport or fine art that need to find community in high school?
Electives, core classes, and community-wide programs allow students to find that support group that they need to be successful and survive high school.
Although school can be stressful, students are required to take elective classes which can help students unwind during the school day. Electives allow students to get to know others who share similar passions and build strong bonds that are rooted in a common cause. The experiences I’ve had in these classes have built some of the strongest friendships I have that could never be replaced.
Journalism, an elective I’ve taken since junior year, has not only given me a creative outlet to develop my writing skills, it has also given me a way to connect with other students who love writing as well. These friendships have gone far beyond the walls of the 6160 (Mrs. Dominy’s room) – there are several seniors who graduated last year whom I am still in touch with. Because our friendships were established early in the school year, I got to know these students well and the livelihood of our relationships show just how strong high school friendships can be.
Like any other elective, journalism allows me to see these friendships grow over time. We were a pretty quiet bunch at the beginning of the year because we hadn’t broken the ice yet, but our dynamic has grown so much over the course of this year because we have become open to new friends and experiences within Mrs. Dominy’s (Doms) room. A time that I’ll never forget with these great friends is when we shaved my head for our fall final this past semester. I let my hair grow out for about half of that semester and, as finals week approached us, we decided we were going to shave my head. I was apprehensive about this to say the least, but Doms convinced me to do it.
As Doms put the tarp under a chair and plugged in the buzzers, the Norseman staff gathered around a table and prepared to watch Doms weedwhack my hair that was beginning to look like a bush. After about five minutes, the curls were reduced to a mere #1 buzzcut and what looked like a small dog on the floor of the 6160. This might not be the most conventional way that community is built within electives, but it did help develop our friendships within the staff and gave us a pretty cool story to tell at dinner that night.
The community that has been built while we have worked together has given us a safe haven on campus where we can be ourselves and not hide behind any walls like we might have, had we not developed such a strong bond. There are many areas where students can gain this sense of community on campus, but electives serve to let students build friendships based on common interest and allow the students to support each other throughout the trials that may come in life.
In addition to electives, students can use their core classes to create strong and lasting friendships. Core classes can be tedious and stressful, but students can find solace in those classes through study groups and even something as simple as talking to their classmates about the struggles they are going through.
International Baccalaureate (IB) classes provide a way for me to plug into a tight-knit group of students who share similar interests. Due to the rigor of these courses, we are able to come together and help each other through the tough times. Whether we’re working on presentations together in Google Docs or doing math homework at a coffee shop, we have found a way to connect through completing our assignments which, in turn, has anchored strong friendships. We have laughed, cried, and danced together – as we go through life, we find that our friendships are not limited to existing between 8:15 to 3:40, but they are lifelong connections that have given us wonderful stories to tell our children and grandchildren as they go through similar high school experiences.
The first time we had to do an internal assessment for our biology class junior year, the eight or so of us weren’t really sure how to tackle the massive lab report. We seemed to call or text each other every 30 seconds because we didn’t want to make a simple mistake and we needed someone to freak out with. We sat on the phone as we yelled at our computers for not loading fast enough and reprimanded ourselves for not doing this assignment earlier. Throughout this long night, we were able to stick together and push each other to finish the task at hand which is such a wonderful quality to friendships and community – you never let someone fall when you have such a strong bond.
Not only are activities within school a necessary aspect to a student’s success, groups that students can plug into outside of school give them a way to establish long lasting friendships and find their true passions. Young Life – a ministry organization for high schoolers that is led by college students – has given me a platform to grow in my faith and interact with other Christians that I would not normally get the chance to meet. Ideally, each high school student that comes to Young Life meets a leader that they talk to and hang out with regularly. I never would have thought that the cool college student who wants to be a dentist someday would end up being my best friend who encourages me through the tough times and cheers with me in the good times.
The first time I met with my Young Life leader was for dinner at one of the best restaurants in town – Raising Canes. I was nervous about how dinner was going to go, what questions he was going to ask me, and if we were going to hit it off immediately or if the friendship was going to die right there in the booth. Despite these fears, I was excited to meet up with my leader and, thankfully, he was excited to meet with me too. We had a great conversation where he told me his testimony and we got to know each other really well. I have never had a friend as wonderful as my leader because we have both constantly pursued this friendship which is another important aspect to bring into the community – be intentional about friendships and you will see them thrive.
Within my leader’s Bible study, I have gotten to know several guys that I go to school with that I had not had the chance to know beforehand. We were brought together due to a similar interest and, because we meet regularly outside of school, we are more open with each other and have understood the struggles that we are going through and what to pray for each other about. The connections I have made with my leader and other students have helped me carry on when times get tough and has shown me how sweet friendships are when they are rooted in something so much deeper than ourselves.
Walking with my Young Life leader through these past two years has shown me the importance of having someone in your life who can deal with serious matters, like holding you accountable to lifestyle changes that you want to make, and for the simple things like meeting you for dinner or sending funny texts. This friendship that I have with my leader has helped me see what living as a Christian man looks like and has shown me the beauty in the vulnerability of a friendship – letting your peers know what is going on in your life so that they can help you, whether it be through prayer, encouragement, or simply talking through the situation, allows friendships to flourish and strengthens bonds.
Each of these activities – journalism, IB, and Young Life – have helped me find the nearest and dearest friends that I have to this day. After looking back on my experiences at Bryan High, I am thankful for the countless teachers and students who have been there for me to help me get through the tough times.
Without them, I have no idea how I would have made it this far.
For anyone who is looking for a way to connect with others here on campus, talk to a teacher or counselor and find those outlets where you can plug into. Many clubs and organizations on campus have an open enrollment policy – such as Cord of 3 and class councils – so it’s never too late to join them. In your classes, reach out to someone who you haven’t talked to or, on the first day of classes next school year, meet someone who you haven’t seen around before. Some of the strongest bonds that I’ve made with my closest friends have been made because someone had the courage to step out of their comfort zone and say “hello”.