What I Have Learned

By Jacqui McLean

I am leaving high school a completely different person than who I was when I entered. A great deal of my growth can be attributed to the many lessons I have learned during my four years here at Westmont. The following are some of the most impactful things I have learned:

Be true to yourself.

High school is a fantastic place to try new things and learn more about yourself. However, this self discovery is often stifled by the judgment of others. I spent too much of my time here at Westmont trying to please others and “fit in” when I would have had a much better time if I simply stayed true to myself and did not worry about the views of others. 

It is not a bad thing to want to be successful. 

I have noticed that with the newfound freedom of high school, many students use the opportunity to slack off and neglect schoolwork. I have never believed in that approach. I have always wanted to take the toughest classest and get the best grades. While I assumed this mindset would be supported by my peers, many instead believed that I was “doing too much” and was being a “tryhard.” For a while, I viewed my academic success as a hindrance to my high school experience. It was only this year that I realized that my fortitude and academic perseverance was an essential part of my ability to succeed post-high school. 


There is something at Westmont for everyone. Whether it’s an activity, club, or sport, join. I have made some of my best relationships with people who participated in the same activities that I have. Trying new clubs and activities that were not my usual interests also opened the door to self discovery. High school is truly what you make of it. If you choose to participate and be involved, high school will be a fantastic journey. However, if you sit on the sidelines and watch all of the fun pass you by, all you will be left with when you graduate is regret. 

Develop relationships with your teachers. 

The teachers at Westmont are fantastic people. They do not simply want to shove a bunch of information at you for four years—they want you to succeed. They care about your mental health and your passions. They care about your future. While it is sometimes difficult to receive a subpar grade, they are not doing it with the intention of making you upset, they simply want you to learn and work for it. By participating in class and speaking with my teachers, I have found that they are an incredible resource. Not only do they offer academic advice, but also useful insight into life after high school. A simple “Hello, how’s your day?” can open the door to your teacher’s welcome, open arms. I am grateful for not only the education I have received from my teachers at Westmont, but also the support, encouragement, laughter, and memories.