School is almost over and our seniors will be leaving Arcadia High School this June after four long years. After all their amazing experiences and lessons learned, this is what our seniors say about their high school career and their advice to those still in high school.
The seniors that I have interviewed will be attending a variety of universities in the fall, including Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, Claremont McKenna College, Marymount College Palos Verdes, New York University, Pasadena City College, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, and University of Southern California.
<Editor’s Note: blogger Emily Zheng is a freshman at Arcadia High School.>
What was your most memorable experience in Arcadia High School?
Annabel Combs: My most powerful and memorable experience at AHS was this February, on the last day that the French exchange students were here. I was devastated and everyone in the room was crying because we all had grown extremely close. It was heartwarming to see the eternal bonds that had formed between not only myself and my students, but my classmates and their students. Seeing two sets of teenagers from two very different parts of the world become so entwined in such a short period of time through the sharing of two beautiful cultures was an extremely powerful thing.
Farihah Chowdhury: I think AP Biology in my sophomore year was my most memorable experience. Despite it being such a difficult class, I learned so much and made great friends.
Jeremy Beckman: The thing I truly adored about Arcadia High School was the door that opened to so many opportunities. I found Arcadia High as a place of unlimited possibilities, where you can transcend into anybody you want, and achieve your own measure of satisfaction.
Kevin Lin: My most memorable experience by far in high school would either be the time our Cross Country team won CIF, State, and the nationals.
Nadine Tran: It would have to be my first charity show. It was amazing. I discovered a newfound respect for dancers and ended up loving dance more because of it. It was so surprising to find out that a high school was capable of having a high quality show.
Thanesh Ayyalu: My most memorable experience at AHS is most definitely being on the “We The People” Constitution team. Everything from applying and making the team to preparing for and going to the various competitions has been an awesome opportunity and I would totally do it all over again. I never thought I would get to delve so much into what our nation’s founding document really means in changing times and get to bond so closely with 29 other people at the same time. Winning a couple of competition titles didn’t hurt either. Being on Senior Men and Women and Cross country come in at a close second though.
Travis Tu: I think my most memorable experience in high school was when Arcadia’s Science Bowl team upset Troy to win the regional competition at JPL and go to nationals. It was extra special because we lost to Troy once and then went into the consolation bracket where we came back from a 100 point deficit to beat Woodbridge and then take 2 in a row to beat Troy for the nationals trip.
Wendy Cheung: The organizations that I got to be a part of, such as Student Council Apache Commission, SMW, French Club, Girl’s Basketball, Link Crew, FBLA, Key Club, Hope Can Cure Cancer Club, and Prom Committee. I believe that AHS provides so many different outlets for creativity and cultural exploration. These organizations provide ways for each and every person to find their true passion. Being a part of SMW was especially rewarding because it was truly a family of students who wanted to make a difference, serve the community, and put others before themselves. It felt good to be a part of a group that had a common goal and also had tons of fun at the same time!
If you could start over your four years again, what would you change?
Andy Qin: I am a firm believer in embracing what has already happened in these four years. Sure, I would like to have met certain people sooner, committed to certain courses earlier, and have found my direction in a more timely manner, but hey—that’s life! I wouldn’t change a thing.
Brendan Ma: I would change to trying out for Speech and Debate so that I could be in it all four years. Being in Speech and Debate allows a person to experience a variety of public speaking in front of audiences. Whether you like debate, advocacy, or acting, it’s all there for a speech and debater. The people are kind and supportive and what’s best about Speech is the freedom that an individual has. If you are just in it for fun or your too busy with academics then that’s fine. If you want to be a hardcore speech person and do multiple events then you can do that too.
Daniel Han: If I could start over as a freshman again, I would focus more on studying and less on “lazy leisure time.”
Farihah Chowdhury: I would take my AP classes more seriously than I did.
Frank Wang: If I could start over, I would definitely make some adjustments to my course/class selection.
Kevin Lin: If I could start over I would definitely have tried to study a bit harder. I slacked way too much in school and it did not help me get into college in any way. I also would have tried to get out of the house more and be more social with people and go to more school events.
Oishee Shemontee: I probably would be a little less sure of my abilities. I think I’ve missed a lot of opportunities and messed up a lot because of overconfidence in my abilities. For example, I took 5 APs senior year and I really regret doing that. I’d change my overconfident attitude.
Thanesh Ayyalu: I would probably change my study habits and/or pick my high school schedule better. I think my GPA suffered due to a little bit of both and the fact that I couldn’t fully juggle all the extracurriculars I was in with homework and AP classes. Most of all, I would take more time to appreciate the present because in hindsight high school has been a blast and four years have flown by. I would gladly go back and fix my GPA though.
Vincent Wei: I would try to get better grades, because I regret not going to a Division I football school, like USC.
What advice do you have for others who are still in high school?
Andy Qin: The key to success is foresight. Everyone has an imagination; use that imagination to predict what situation you will be in as a result of the choice you have made. Lead a spontaneous life, and stay true to your principles, and I promise you will have a fulfilling high school career.
Annabel Combs: My advice would be to take classes that inspire you and capture your interests; not necessarily the interests of your parents and friends.
Amy Wen: Grades before extracurriculars! EXTRAcurriculars are extra. Grades are what make your dream school a reality.
Brendan Ma: It is never too late to try a new thing. From a club to an extracurricular activity to a sport, if you want it, go for it. I tried two things in my senior year, speech and debate and track, and loved both activities. With so many different things to do at Arcadia High School, there is bound to be something for everyone.
Daniel Han: Don’t overwork yourself by taking AP classes for the sake of having the name brand of “Advanced Placement” on your transcript. If it happens to be a subject that you don’t enjoy at all, you will surely regret taking the class. Also, there is no such thing as an “easy AP”; all APs require a fair amount of hard work invested into it. I had taken a couple APs that may have scarred pieces of my transcript.
Farihah Chowdhury: Do what makes you happy, don’t let the opinions of others stop you from reaching your goals.
Gina Oh: Don’t stress out so much about what college admissions are looking for and do something that you enjoy. Something that I personally think will get you far in life is passion. So find what your passionate about and stick with it because doing something out of obligation versus passion becomes very obvious. And one last thing is to try everything. What people forget is that high school is FREE. This is where you get to take as many classes as you want, try many different activities without having to pay the price like you do in college. It is a perfect opportunity to find out what you are passionate about.
Jeremy Beckman: I’d like to tell my fellow peers that despite the pressure to be the perfect student, try to find your own source of happiness in school. Enjoy the time you have as a student, perform to the best of your ability, and be proud of what YOU have done. Take pride in your work and accomplishments, and get involved in the things that fulfill you the best.
Kahao Lim: Advice? Relax. Whatever happens will happen.
Kevin Lam: For those new students coming from China to America like me, don’t waste too much of your time playing or relaxing.
Kevin Lin: My advice for the student is to have fun as much as possible and let loose every once in a while but at the same time focus on the important stuff like grades because if you want to get into college, you’re going to have to work hard.
Oishee Shemontee: Whatever you do, make it count. Don’t just join a club or team or take an AP class for the resume. Do it because you actually care. Because some things really, really, really aren’t worth it. Really. Trust me.
Thanesh Ayyalu: My greatest advice is to not miss any opportunities because Arcadia is so full of them that it’s really easy to let them fly past you and not notice. Get a handle of what you like, what your hobbies are, and what you feel like pursuing and go follow it! Keep your grades up, but don’t let it dominate you because you only get to go through high school once. The world is super competitive, so live in the moment but also keep your grades high. Most of all, have fun with it and learn for joy of learning something new not simply to go through the motions.
Travis Tu: Don’t make everything you do be about getting into college. Enjoy yourself and don’t like kill yourself over grades and stuff because now that I look back on the college admissions process, I do not feel that 1 B or 2 would make or break you. It would be all the different things that you can talk about in an interview or are able to show colleges that you can become something in the future. Whether the people that get into the “great” schools actually have that potential is a totally different story. And don’t procrastinate!
Wendy Cheung: Don’t fear rejection. It’s a part of life and while you should always strive for the best, don’t let your fears guide you through life. It’s important to stay strong when the going gets tough and have the big picture in mind at all times. I can tell you that I’ve probably been rejected at least 20 (no lie) times from various organizations, colleges, and programs. While it totally stings that you’re not who they’re looking for, keep in mind that there are millions of other opportunities! Keep trying, stay strong, and always strive for the best.
Wendy Huang: Work hard but don’t forget to have fun on the side. High school is only what you make of it, so make sure you have no regrets.
Thank you to all the seniors for being a highlight of Arcadia High School and for sharing your experiences with us! Best of luck in the next step of your careers!