Hirsch High School Freshman on First Impressions of His New Home
STUDENTS | September 21, 2021
Hirsch High School Freshman on First Impressions of His New Home

When DeVonte’s mom brings up potentially moving away from Chicago, he feels hesitant because of all the memories he’s accumulated after living here his entire life. Memories of playing basketball and football defined his experience at Oglesby Elementary, and now he’s ready to create a new set of memories at Hirsch Metropolitan High School, where he is already fitting in well.

“The first few weeks of high school have been wonderful,” he said. “I love the scenery and the environment. I love all the students. They’re really nice, friendly, and cool. I’m not only treating this school like a school but also as a family.”

He notes that there’s a collective work ethic that can be felt inside each one of Hirsch’s classrooms. The teachers are extremely helpful in keeping each student on track, and the students are willing to put in the effort necessary to succeed. This creates a positive culture that pushes DeVonte and his peers to keep exceeding expectations.

“You can definitely feel the positive energy from all the teachers and all the staff,” he said. “It’s coming off everyone, and you can see that with how much the students are happy to be here and enjoy school.”

DeVonte describes himself as kind, caring, and generous, the type of student who figures out how to resolve drama rather than creating it. But school hasn’t always been easy for him. There were points throughout elementary school when he fell far behind, but support from his family kept him going. Now, his perspective has shifted because of those struggles, and he wants nothing more than to make his family proud.

“My past experiences taught me that school isn’t a joke. You have to stay focused to stay on top of your work,” he said. “Right now, I’ve just been constantly grinding, keeping my grades up, and talking with my teachers about how I can improve.”

Even though he’s only been at Hirsch for a few weeks, he’s been very observant about the social side of being a high school freshman. He believes that because the beginning of high school is a “clean slate” for everyone, students may try too hard to fit in with their peers, which can lead to them doing things that they’re not supposed to.

His advice for incoming freshmen is to be themselves instead of trying to impress others. While he will be the first to say that he isn’t considered a social butterfly, he wants to branch out and make more friends by trying new things. After many of his elementary school festivities were disrupted because of the pandemic, he’s also eager for a more normal high school experience, looking forward to everything from dissecting animals to prom.

“I’m definitely glad to be back at school every day. Being at home, there were a lot of distractions around me,” he said. “Now, I’m paying more attention and have a better understanding of what’s going on in class.”

DeVonte has aspirations of becoming a lawyer one day. To reach that goal, he’s planning to put in extra hours studying, especially in math, the subject that challenges him the most. On top of his academic strategies, he’s also prioritizing surrounding himself with people who have a similar mindset when it comes to school.

“It’s important to not let anyone distract you from doing what you have to do,” he said. “If there are people who are going down the same path as you, make sure to stick with those people because all of you will go very far.”