The Oracle staffers offer advice for each grade level

The Oracle staffers offer advice for each grade level

Dear Class of 2027,

Welcome to Gunn! I know you are probably excited and nervous — last year, I felt a jumbled combination of all of these emotions. High school brings the baggage of new peers, a new campus, new classes and a whole new social structure, so I know how daunting the change may seem. After navigating through this same period of uncertainty, I’ve accumulated advice to mitigate your anxiety and guide you through this monumental transition.

The first thing you should be mindful of is that first impressions do matter. From the moment you walk into your first class, teachers and classmates alike are going to start assessing you. Because of this, you want to make sure you are being attentive, curious and kind right off the bat. You also want to take note of and demonstrate the qualities a teacher values in their classroom, whether it’s honesty, curiosity or diligence. Starting off on the right foot will make future communication and connection much easier.

It’s also essential to participate in Homecoming Week. Spirit weeks in high school are drastically different from those in middle school, as almost every- body participates in them. In fact, teachers usually lighten the workload during the festivities, which often become students’ fondest memories of high school. Dress up and go to the lunch games — trust me, no one will judge you for it.

You’ve probably had some experience with lunch clubs in the past, but it’s important to realize just how big a part club culture plays at Gunn and to get involved as soon as you can. Clubs aren’t just places you go to at lunch or after school — they are communities you can find camaraderie and seek advice in. A wide variety of clubs with varying commitment levels means there is definitely a place for you, whatever your hobbies or schedule. Try your hand at different clubs until you find the ones that feel right to you.

Lastly, expect a heavier workload than you had in middle school, which means work can pile up and get overwhelming if you don’t have an adequate organizational system. You can use a physical planner, digital planning tools or whatever else seems sustainable to you. The simple act of jotting down due dates and events is bound to boost your performance and confidence in class.

Hopefully, this advice calms your nerves, and — more importantly — makes you feel more confident about coming to Gunn. Lean on your peers, teachers and family while you settle into high school. I have no doubt that you will do incredibly well here, and I can’t wait to meet you all.


Kaylee Cheng



Dear Class of 2026,

Congratulations! Making it through freshman year is an achievement in and of itself. Although transitioning from freshman to sophomore year is not as difficult as transitioning from middle to high school, you will face a heftier academic and extracurricular workload. Sophomore year may seem to be a boring “sandwich” year in your high school journey, but you can take full advantage of it by doing truly enjoyable activities, maintaining effective time management and building meaningful connections with peers and teachers.

As the year begins, you’ll have a variety of activities inside and outside of school to choose from. Whether you’re joining a club or a sports team, it is important to do so for the right reasons. Your involvement should stem from genuine interest, rather than external pressure from parents or friends. These engagements don’t have to be purely academic, either: Doing activities that feel relaxing, rather than stressful, will create a good balance between work and fun. Going to local community events or volunteering at an animal shelter will help spruce up the “sleep, eat, work” rhythm.

Effective time management is just as, if not more, important in sophomore year as it is in freshman year. Being on top of assignments and studying alleviates stress and helps you convey confidence. While many claim that effective time management means being able to do everything and achieve all of your goals, this method often leads to burnout. Instead, you should approach your time as you do your money. Financial budgeting involves prioritizing what is most important: For example, instead of buying that fancy hand soap, you might get the plain bottle instead to save up for a new keyboard. The same principle can be applied to time management: To complete the most important tasks, you’ll need to make compromises.

Lastly, build meaningful relationships with teachers and peers, and listen to other people’s stories. Their different backgrounds and unique experiences can lead to meaningful discussions, and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. In my experience, fostering closer relationships with my peers provided me with opportunities to make new friends and helped me strengthen my collaborative skills.

Sophomore year is an exciting time to make improvements and build
positive relationships. Good luck, Class of 2026!


Charlotte Qian


Dear Class of 2025,

Welcome back to Gunn! Junior year can be intimidating at first, but once you get into the groove of things, it’s not so bad. To make the upperclassman transition smoother, here’s advice for the upcoming year.

It’s easy to get caught up in the grind, so much so that you find yourself too busy to hang out with friends. The demands of academic, extracurricular and other commitments can quickly accumulate and consume a lot of your time. At the same time, it’s just as easy to spend too much time with your friends and start taking school less seriously. Striking a healthy balance is difficult. However, finding a sweet spot where you both have fun and stay focused is well worth the effort.

Good time management is key to achieving this balance: It’s important to plan out your schedule. You probably won’t be able to get away with procrastinating, as I found out pretty early on in my junior year. At one point, I actually forgot about a physics exam because I was too swamped with other classes. I thought my friends were pranking me when they mentioned the upcoming test in the morning.

To avoid experiences like that, I recommend using a calendar app or a planner to keep track of deadlines. Portioning out time for certain assignments each day can also help you break larger tasks down into manageable chunks. Trust me, it’ll save you a lot of stress and late nights.

Finally, don’t be afraid to participate in Student Executive Council and club activities. In your first two years of high school, it’s easy to be intimidated. For my first in-person homecoming, in sophomore year, I convinced myself that the event was not worth the trouble and that I would “do it next year,” a decision I ended up sorely regretting.

As upperclassmen, it is your duty to show the underclassmen the joy of schoolwide events and get them to buy into the concept of school spirit. The magic of such an uniting experience is truly unforgettable, even if you’re surrounded by people you might not know well.

Go to dances. Dress up for homecoming. Most of all, have fun with your classmates. You won’t regret it. Remember, junior year is as hard as you make it. Good luck!


Jeffrey Kang


Dear Class of 2024,

Consider this one of many congratulations you will receive this year for making it to the pinnacle of your K-12 education experience. Soon, you will be walking away from the familiar Gunn community and heading toward the unfamiliar territory of post-secondary-education life. Still, you have a whole year ahead of you: one that will prove challenging yet memorable in many ways.

The first semester of senior year is even more stressful and difficult to get through than junior year (sorry). Balancing harder classes, college applications, extracurricular activities and a social life will prove a struggle — expect to invest more time in applications and academics first semester. During this time, it’s crucial to not burn out. Take breaks, get your emotions out, talk to trusted individuals and don’t let things boil out of proportion. Your pursuit of academic success should not come at the cost of your mental health.

Building strong work habits is key during senior year. Spend time understanding how and where you work best to overcome daunting to-do lists (and senioritis) during college application season. Establishing a work ethic also helps you finish college applications as soon as you can without sacrificing quality. Starting early and allocating time throughout the semester to work on applications allowed me to have spare time for recharging senior year.

Regarding college decisions: First of all, don’t make an acceptance your entire personality. Similarly, don’t view a rejection as a reflection of your self-worth. You are more than your college decisions. I got rejected by all of the University of California schools I applied to and most of my “safeties.” But because I still got into pretty selective schools, I can attest that college admissions are weird and unpredictable. That’s just something you’ll have to come to terms with this year. College decisions are really not that deep. Life will go on.

Lastly, don’t forget that senior year is what you make it, and that you are never going to have another high school experience. Work hard, but don’t sacrifice having fun at the beginning of the year believing that you will make it up the following semester. Before you leave, do the things you will otherwise regret not doing. Make the most out of your senior year by participating in senior events and being a proactive member of the community. Support and celebrate yourself and your peers. Work hard, play hard, be authentic and go all out for homecoming. You got this.


Raphael Semeria

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Oracle
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Henry M. Gunn High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

About the Contributors
Kaylee Cheng, Features Editor
Sophomore Kaylee Cheng is a features editor for The Oracle and has been on staff since January 2023. In her free time, she likes to make jewelry, read and play with her cat, Meow.
Charlotte Qian, News Editor
Junior Charlotte Qian is a news editor for The Oracle. In her spare time between writing articles and designing layouts, she enjoys playing with her lizard, volunteering and golfing.
Jeffrey Kang, Forum Editor
Senior Jeffrey Kang is a forum editor for The Oracle. In his free time, he likes petting his cat, playing card games and reading.
Raphael Semeria, Managing Editor
On staff since August 2020, Senior Raphael Semeria is a managing editor for The Oracle. When he is not scrambling to contact sources, he can be found at a potter's wheel or in the kitchen attempting to bake.
Donate to The Oracle
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Oracle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *