6 things I absolutely do not regret doing in high school


Photos courtesy Ellie Cowen

Seniors Ellie Cowen and Nico DePalma pose for homecoming photos in 2018 and with newspaper advisor Evva Starr in 2022.

As seniors come to the end of their public school careers, we have a tendency to look back on our high school years with cynicism, noticing every misstep and being compelled to warn the incoming classes away from our choices. But I think doing this overshadows all the personal growth that comes from making mistakes or putting yourself out there, so here are six things that I absolutely do not regret doing over my time in high school. 

  • Taking a class I wasn’t sure of 

Journalism was my second choice class after Global Issues sophomore year and I thank my nondenominational God every day that not enough people signed up for that class. Newspaper has been an integral part of my high school experience. It helped me develop my writing style, was some of my first opportunities for leadership and gave me a whole community of people I would never have met. If you’re not interested in joining Common Sense, I understand (I don’t really, but that’s OK) but I would still encourage you to join a new community. Try out for the sports team or join the club. The friends you will make are worth the awkward first days, I promise. 

  • Taking classes (I thought) were too hard 

I signed up for on-level biology freshman year out of fear that I would be over my head in these new high school classes. I soon switched up to honors biology, and I do not regret doing so at all. You can handle more than you think, so take the harder class and if it’s not for you, the 25-day rule will always be there. On that note, challenge yourself but don’t overextend. The stress of taking six AP classes is not worth the perceived benefits on your GPA and college applications. I know most of you will not take this advice junior year, but at least make your senior year schedule relatively easy because burnout is real. 

  • Figuring out how I study

Figure out the best way for you to study and do it before you’re spending hours studying material ineffectively. An hour of effective studying is worth five hours of mindlessly reading over content. For me, this means making flashcards of vocab words and math formulas and then speaking them aloud. Take the time to figure out how you best process information, you will be glad you did later. 

  • Going all out for spirit days

Controversial opinion – trying is fun. Wear the tropical shirt and sunglasses, it’s not that hard. Ignoring the spirit days might seem like the easy route, but it is so much more fun to make an effort. Everyone is in a better mood on pep rally day so embrace the community SGA works hard to create, instead of choosing to uphold Wootton’s unspirited reputation. 

  • Taking to new (older) people 

It took me three years to figure out that upperclassmen are not the scary figures I expected them to be and I was so happy when I finally did. Having someone to give you advice on which classes to take, help you through the college application process, and eventually visit in college is invaluable. 

  • Applying for the leadership position

I remember sophomore year when I applied to a few leadership positions thinking I would be laughed out of any interview. I had no experience and was a chronic self-doubter. Try not to self-sabotage and just apply for leadership because clubs and organizations are probably more desperate for leadership than you realize. Remember, you’re applying to do work for them. 

As I conclude my final article I will ever write for Common Sense, I want to say thank you to Mrs. Starr and every person who has made newspaper the best experience I could have asked for it to be. And to all the incoming students, good luck and enjoy it because high school will go by in the blink of an eye.