The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

Advice to Navigate High School

Photo of the graduated class of 2024 taken from @northpolkcsd on Instagram

As the school year wraps up, students may develop mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement about the following school year. It is hard to navigate all of the changes that occur with each grade without an older sibling or a figure who could provide advice on what classes to take, what to prioritize and overall how to manage growing up and finding what you are passionate about. In this article, advice will be given from students who just completed their grades for future students to heed to make their next school year the best one yet.


Beginning high school in an unfamiliar space and joining new faces can be a daunting task but hopefully, with support from friends, teachers and guidance counselors, the transition will go smoothly. High school is such a defining period in everyone’s life and freshman year marks the start of developing as both a student and person.

Freshman Krista Shoenberg described, “[f]reshman year [as] honestly really crazy, there were so many ups and downs. Joining clubs and being in school activities have had a really huge impact on my character, and they were additionally, really fun!”

Despite the hectic schedule because of opportunities in sports, clubs and classes, it is important to try and stay connected through these opportunities and take advantage of all North Polk offers.

Shoenberg’s most important takeaway from her freshman year is to “be involved in as many things as you can, find your passion, and follow what you love!”


Sophomore year tends to be when most students gain their footing at North Polk. Students learn the most effective ways to study and how to manage their time which is a hard feat.

Sophomore Ava Koudelka explained, “[she] found this year easier than [her] freshman year. [She] say[s] this because [she] was used to how things worked in the school. Some classes were harder, but [she] knew what to expect and how to study for [her] classes. [She] was not as stressed as [she] was freshman year because [she] knew how to cope with all the hard things.”

The skills developed in sophomore year can aid students in many different ways throughout high school and college. Students can continue to work on these skills by taking Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) classes which can help students learn time management and how to manage the difficulty of college-level courses.

“Sophomore year I think students should start to take more DMACC classes. Since the school offers lots of different options in terms of DMACC I think it is important that students take advantage of these college-level courses while they can. Even though as a sophomore you are still an underclassman it’s never too early to start,” explained sophomore Blythe Knight.


Many consider junior year to be the hardest year of high school academically because of the harder classes being taken. Additionally many take big tests like the ACT or PSAT that have a big impact. The stresses of junior year may feel like a lot of weight on student’s shoulders so it is important to make sure students have a support system and strategies to make sure they can balance school and fun.

Reis Estey described these difficulties as “a lot harder; I was just taking a lot more challenging classes this year all at one time.” However, “sometimes [she] put studying and school work over fun events like sports games and [she] wish[es] [she] had gone to more fun activities”

Junior year may feel like too much to handle but it is possible with determination and grit.

Estey explained it is necessary to “be willing to put in work and it will not be that bad.”


While junior year may be the hardest academically, senior year is most definitely the hardest emotionally as students say goodbye to those they have grown close to and goodbye to what many consider to be their childhood. 

“Senior year can be difficult when deciding on colleges or plans after graduation, as well as filling out scholarships and trying to stay on top of grades, but also having fun at school events, and it can seem very overwhelming. I’d recommend just planning out your week and staying organized,” advised senior Kylie Rasmussen.

Organization is key to balancing school with fun and friends and senior year it is important to make sure that you are managing both well and not wasting any moments that could be cherished memories in the future.

Senior Caroline Cromley “felt that at the beginning of my senior year, [she] didn’t hang out with friends much or go to football games as often as [she] wanted. You have to make sure that you allow yourself an even balance between school, activities, work, and friends.“

The best way to balance so many factors to ensure a great school year is to plan ahead.

Rasmussen described “if there’s a football game Friday, know you probably won’t be filling out scholarships or doing loads of school work that night so plan to do it maybe Thursday or earlier in the week. If you have practices/games during weeknights and don’t have time, maybe leave time during the day to do it. Use your open campus times not just to sleep and rest, but also to get scholarships and work done. Senior year can get overwhelming quickly, but if you really want to accomplish or be involved in a lot of different things, make the time for it and plan out your weeks. It helps a ton!”

After ensuring a great last school year with friends and high school is coming to a close it can be a very sad time for some students. While remembering your past high school experience is important, dwelling on an ending is not how many want to remember their last days of high school.

Cromley offered “when graduating, think about it as a transition from one period of life to another. You are not entirely saying goodbye to high school but simply moving forward to your next stage.”

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Addy Happ, Newspaper Editor

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