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The Leaders Post

6 *Actual* Tips For New Students

Mack C.

I know what you’re thinking, this kind of article or video are a dime a dozen on the internet. Especially coming from schools themselves. They’re pretty standard. Do your work, make friends, be polite, that sort of stuff. And don’t get me wrong, that advice is definitely true, but it’s not really good advice. Most people by age thirteen can figure out that “do your work” is probably par for the course in high school. The people writing these articles are often long out of high school, and don’t fully understand what actually goes into spending your time in a place like this in the 2020s. So in my final article for The Leaders Post, I’ll try to give you some more specific advice as best I can that I picked up on in my 4 years at this school – in order from smallest to biggest.


1. Check The School Lunch Schedule

For those who don’t eat school lunches, you can safely scroll past this one, but if you’re like me and can’t resist free food for one reason or another, school lunch is an important part of the daily routine. However, some meals are better than others – to put it kindly. If you want to know if waiting in line or even going downstairs at all is a waste of time, the easiest way to do so is to check the school lunch schedule on the DOE website. School lunches are standardized across New York City, which also explains why they are so low quality. They have to be mass produced and taste the same everywhere. (That’s also why fast food is so terrible.) To find the menu, go to, or simply google “NYCDOE school lunch menu” and find it that way. 


That aside, sometimes you may not need the menu, there are some patterns you can recognize with more difficulty than others. For example, Monday is always pizza, and they offer chicken dumplings (the objectively best food on the menu) only once every couple weeks, always on a Tuesday. Regardless of how well you learn the lunch schedule, absolutely do not eat the mushy pile of green paste that is supposed to resemble spinach. You could be the biggest fan of spinach in the world and it would still be terrible.


2. Fill Out Surveys ASAP

There’s a chance that you’re a 9th grader reading this after I graduate, but even if you’re not, doing forms and surveys quickly is one of the best ways to optimize your high school experience a little more to your taste. Keep in mind that in intensives specifically, the higher of a grade you’re in, the more bias you’ll have in the intensives rankings. 12th graders for example are given the highest priority because they have the lowest number of intensives weeks left, and 9th graders are given the lowest priority because they still have all 6 intensives weeks waiting for them across the next 4 years. But a great way to tilt the scales in your favor is to fill out surveys the minute you see them in your inbox. This also applies to other things too like the lab internships, student government, and most importantly, math classes. Consider it kind of a subcategory of this specific piece of advice but please, keep your email notifications on. Which leads me into my next piece of advice:


3. Don’t use your school email address to sign up for accounts on not-school related sites

This one seems pretty self-explanatory to me but you’d be surprised at how common it is. Your leaders email address is meant for school emails, google classroom, and signing up for sites and services used for school. It is absolutely crucial that you realize your school email will be shut down after you graduate. If you were to make a steam or minecraft account with your school email, you might have some serious trouble migrating that account to a new email when your school account shuts down. Many services don’t offer the ability to change the email address on your account at all. You’re going to be an adult sooner or later, you need your own personal email address. And while we’re talking about it, make your personal email address something appropriate because you’ll be stuck with it for a while unless you want a lot of hassle later. Something you’d be comfortable with a future employer seeing.


4. Personal Hygiene

I want you to know I mean this with the most 100% genuine judgment-free advice of my life, but you’re a teenager now and you need to get your hygiene under control. Find what products work for you. Feel free to experiment and shop around for whatever shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc. makes you feel the most comfortable. Deodorant especially is an absolute must as a teenager, because a lot of people don’t realize their armpits stink until somebody has to break it to them. That’s a really uncomfortable and embarrassing conversation to have, coming from somebody who’s been on both sides of that exchange at different points in my life. This can also be supplemented by some smaller pieces of advice such as: don’t buy the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, get shampoo and conditioner separately, cologne is not a substitute for showering, and the shorter you cut your hair the more often you will have to wash it since the oil and dirt is more concentrated. Body odor is something everyone has to deal with at one point or another, but the occasional hallway stank reminded me that a hygiene check is something that benefits everyone. You’ll look and feel better for it.


5. Remember That You Have It Easy

This is something that every grade needs a reminder of every now and then. I’ll be blunt about it, Leaders High School is significantly easier than most other high schools. This is not something I say out of disdain. I much prefer the more creative and reduced stress approach to assignments, but you have to be prepared for the sort of culture shock that comes with college or transferring schools. Our school is unique, not a lot of people are gonna know what you’re talking about when you bring up Pbats or Mastery Passages. Compared to a stressful final exam, mastery passages especially are much simpler. For all intents and purposes the only difference between mastery passages and normal pbats is you have one more person leaving feedback on your paper and you have to give a presentation about it at the end. So whatever your thoughts about the assignments themselves or their difficulty, be prepared for college to get much more demanding.



I cannot emphasize this one enough, especially if you’re in 9th or 10th grade. While being romantically involved is an exciting prospect, dating people in your class can make things awkward and uncomfortable in a hurry. According to the University of Georgia, the average length of a relationship is 6-12 months, which seems generous. Most likely when you break up with them, it’s going to make the rest of your classes very awkward. This advice doesn’t apply as much to relationships across different grades since you probably won’t see each other that often in actual classes, but with how small this school is I wouldn’t count on it. Relationships are an important part of life, but I would recommend looking outside of school or waiting until college. Also while I’m here, seniors dating freshmen is really weird, keep an eye out for that.


I hope this advice is helpful in some capacity, but I think it’s a good way to send off Leaders as I head to college. Good luck with high school and remember, the chicken dumplings are served once every 3-4 weeks, always on Tuesdays. 



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