How to Survive High School | “John’s Declassified School Survival Guide”

As of yesterday, June 6th, 2018, I am no longer a student at Pope John Paul II High School. As much as this is hard to accept, as I had a really good high school experience, I am excited for the future. However, I am a person who is really sentimental, so it has been a really tough internal struggle accepting that this chapter of my life is about to close and essentially become, for lack of a better term, “read-only”.

With this in mind, as a way of saying thank you and goodbye in my own, erhm, interesting way, I present: How to Survive High School.

Talk to the first person that comes on the bus

It was my first bus ride to school, approximately around 6:45 in the morning on some early September morning back in 2014. A guy named Denver Francis got on the bus and we introduced ourselves and that became my first new friend at high school. Denver was in my first period related arts class freshmen year, and was (and still is!) a really cool guy. In fact, at our baccalaureate mass that occurred yesterday, over four years later, I was still talking to Denver.

I bring this up because I am someone who struggles with social anxiety, so meeting new people was not exactly something that I intended to be easy and I was frankly a nervous wreck. However, it occurred to me that the first day at school was the best time to start introductions, because no matter how socially capable you are, everyone is nervous on the first day. The same logic applies to college and many other things. So needless to say, if it’s your first day, there’s no better time to mingle!

This advice later helped a lot in both my Sophomore and Senior years, when we got a new principal (Mr. Meredith) and health teacher (Mr. D). Being that welcoming face on the first day can help a lot, as everyone, no matter how confident, is always a little nervous the first day.

Join the Ping-pong club (or maybe just find a niche club)

Sometime early into my freshmen year, I figured I should probably find some club to join since that was a hot topic at our freshmen orientation. The ping-pong and games club sounded like an interesting thing, so I got myself and my buddy Mike from grade school to join. Needless to say, I saw a few familiar faces there, and one in particular stood out to me: a guy named Anthony “Ant” Marchese.

Ant was in my related arts class, as well as my biology class and I think also my Spanish class. He was a quiet guy, but we had first met during our 3 minutes walks from the art wing, which was on the one extreme end of the school, all the way to the science wing on the other side for our biology class. Needless to say, I was happy to see him there and introduced him to Mike as well. This ended up being one of the best things to happen in high school, as Ant later became one of my best friends. High school would not have been the same (in fact, it would have been a whole lot worse) without him. Moral of this story, the whole spiel about joining some club really does make all the difference.

Hobbies bring people together (in my case, video games & hiking)

Some time in late April of my freshmen year, I was approached in the hallway by my friend Joey about starting a Minecraft server for us and a few mutual friends, as they needed someone who knew how to run one. By chance, I had actually started a server literally earlier that same week for my brother Mike and some of his friends, so I told Joey that I was in and later that night we were all playing. We ended up doing many serves, and branched off into other games, and even tried being our own kind of “server network” for a bit.

a low-res memory

That gang and I no longer play Minecraft anymore, or even video games in general aside from Fortnite from time to time. We’ve mostly moved onto hiking and just hanging around playing basketball and volleyball. However, I will never forget those times and I talk to those guys every day. They’re some of my best friends and I owe a lot to them. Mike, Joey, Connor, Jack, Colin, Ant, Shane, Gavin, Kira, Jason, and Mike G, please know you all will have a special place in my heart. I really had some great times with you all.

the group

Join the Track team (or find some sport / physical club)

Sometime around 7-8th grade I discovered that I could actually run half-decently. This led to me joining the spring Track & Field team when I heard that practices were starting. Luckily for me, it was no cuts, so there was a small subset that the sprinter coach actually cared about and than there was a number of friends and I who still put in a lot of work. We were just free to actually have a good time without being yelled at.

This is how I first really met a number of great people. I had my friend Sam introduce me to a lot of kids that he had gone to school with, and so through him and their social circle, I met a number of guys: The Jimmys, Joe, Andrew, Matt, Rob, Justin, and others I’m sure. These guys were another reason why my high school experience was so great. They were friendly to me, they supported me, and they just all around were great dudes and frankly I miss them a lot.

I also met a guy named Shane, who we had talked on the bus from some meets. I had actually found out that Shane enjoyed Minecraft as well, so he ended up joining us over on our Minecraft server and from that had basically jump-started our friendship. Needless to say, I could also not imagine having gone through high school without him.

Of course I can’t forget Kira, Cameron, Bonnie, Jason, Caroline, Delvon, Nick G, Caitie, and all the other people who made Track such a memorable experience. Seriously, thank you. I also cannot forget the incredible underclassmen that I am leaving behind, I’m not going to name anyone specifically because frankly I’m terrible with names, but I will say that I am going to miss my distance run buddy Angelo a lot.

Do the show (Hi Studio 38!)

Our drama department at my former alma mater is colloquially known as “Studio 38”. It was truly an interesting experience being a member of Studio 38. I met a lot of great people that I normally wouldn’t have interacted with, and just really enjoyed seeing the magic of the stage. It was a really big time commitment for a lot of people involved, and I really appreciated all the effort that went into it, especially from the stage crew head, Ms. Brown.

The drama program is a great way for you to express a talent, whether it be acting, being a musician, or learning how to manage and assist productions. If I could do high school over again, I definitely would have joined Studio 38 earlier.

Go to some dances (or at least your prom)

I love music but I don’t exactly like dances so much; however, I made it a point to try to go to them since they’re only just one night and it probably beat whatever else I was going to do. I managed to go to every homecoming, freshmen year cotillion (it’s like a prom but for underclassmen and really watered down), winter ball both junior & senior year, and my junior & senior prom.

I really, really enjoyed both my junior & senior proms. I went with great people both times and I spent them with a great group of friends. I had some really memorable experiences after both and honestly I got to know people in my friend circles a lot better because of them. I recommend going to those, at the very least, just because it’s usually people that you’re closer to that will be there instead of cramming three quarters of the school into a gym for 3 hours. I also bonded with a lot of people at the after parties I went to and I would absolutely do them again if given the chance.

Plus, dancing is honestly a lot of fun and I’m saying this as someone who can’t dance. I got to just sing my heart out while trying to move to some sort of rhythm, and honestly I loved that feeling of just “letting loose”. As long as you have a little circle of friends with you, it doesn’t matter about whatever anyone else is doing that night.


junior prom

senior prom


This post is dedicated to the Pope John Paul II High School class of 2018 and my family. It is dedicated to anyone who has ever given me a friendly smile or hello in the hallways, as they were never forgotten. Specifically, I’d like to call out my parents, grandmother, and brothers Michael, James, and Chris for their support, and my PJP family: Big Mike, Jack, Ant, Rosario, Shane, Mike G, Sam, Jason, Christian, Liam, Connor, Colin M, Alex, Colin F, Mike R, David, Nick, Anthony, Jake S, Jake O, Joey (honorary), Gavin (honorary), Sydney, Alyssa, Casey, Annemarie, Colleen, Caroline, Susannah, Cameron, Kira, Bonnie, Rachel, and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. This would not have been possible without you all. It is dedicated to all the underclassmen who I’m leaving behind, I promise I’ll come and visit.

“So long, and thanks for all the fish” - Some dolphin







Posted on 6/7/2018