Words for Freshmen: A Message to the Class of 2024 from Experienced Wilde Cats


Arielle Levine

Advice for the freshmen class from Sarah Rubin, Ms. Volpe, Ms. Henderson, and Ms. Riley.

This year’s freshmen class is the first in history to begin high school without ever having entered the school building.

Every class, extracurricular, and interaction has taken place entirely over Google Meets, leaving many freshmen feeling disconnected from their new school.

Due to COVID-19, the Howard County Board of Education decided upon virtual learning for the first three semesters of the 2020-21 school year as of December 2020. As freshmen find themselves struggling with online learning and navigating high school in general, many seek advice but don’t know where to find it.

Social studies teacher Ms.Volpe, English teacher Ms. Henderson, assistant principal Ms. Riley, and Wilde Lake senior Sarah Rubin offered their advice for the freshmen class from their years of involvement at Wilde Lake. If you’re a member of the class of 2024, listen up.

“Everybody loves you. Everybody at Wilde Lake will want to give you a chance, the teachers, the students, everybody is so involved,” Rubin said. She encourages freshmen to ask for help when they need it. 

Ms. Volpe, a Social Studies teacher, and her dog, Jack, dressed up for a virtual spirit week in the spring. (Photo Courtesy of Ms. Volpe)

“Teachers are not scary. Especially right now; we’re all in this storm

together, and we’re all struggling in different ways,” says Ms. Volpe. “When we [teachers] see somebody’s boat going down, our first instinct is to help. But, in the virtual world, we can’t see your boat going down, so you have to ask for what you need.”

Ms. Volpe wants to help her students, but to do so, she needs them to advocate for themselves. She thinks one great way for students to do this is to reach out to teachers via Canvas messaging.

Ms. Riley, an Assistant Principal, specifically for the freshman class. (Photo Courtesy of the Wilde Lake Yearbook)

Ms. Riley has been a 9th-grade assistant principal for three years. She encourages all 9th-grade students to find at least one staff member; a teacher, counselor, or an administrator; who they feel comfortable with and feel they can trust and reach out to when they hit a bump in the road.

“We all need someone in our corner to help us navigate challenging situations,” says Ms. Riley.

Ms. Henderson, a 9th grade English and Yearbook teacher at Wilde Lake. (Photo Courtesy of the Wilde Lake Yearbook)

Wilde Lake’s diversity is part of what makes the community remarkable and is something all freshmen should take advantage of, according to Ms. Henderson.

Wilde Lake is composed of a diverse student body that comes together into one supportive community, offering a multitude of opportunities to connect and learn from one another.  “We encourage our students to use their voice and be a part of the conversations, which is really important,” says Ms. Volpe.

Sarah Rubin, a Wilde Lake Senior. (Photo Courtesy of Sarah Rubin)

Ohana means family, and that is what the Wilde Lake community prides itself on. “We are such a big family,” says Rubin. According to Rubin, upperclassmen are supportive and often offer guidance to the freshmen. 

Ms. Riley has observed that whenever a student at Wilde Lake is upset, they always have a friend they can lean on. “When tough things happen, we rally together to support either a person, a family, or a community,” says Ms. Riley. “But when things happen, we rally together.”

Question and Answer:

Ms. Riley offers straightforward advice regarding how to seek support and properly use the school’s resources.

Question: Where do I go if I need mental health support? 

Answer: All counselors are available to offer support, but it is most efficient for students to reach out to their assigned counselor. Wilde Lake also has a school psychologist, Dr. McKnight-Dean, who students can reach through [email protected]

 Question: Where do I go if I need help changing my schedule or switching courses? 

Answer: The student services team is the same people that students should reach out to if they need help changing their schedule with switching classes or courses. 

Question: Where do I go if I want to check out a library book?

Answer: Students can look for available books in the WLHS Book Catalog and then send a Canvas message to Ms. Annora Bailey ([email protected]) or Ms. Katie Palmateer ([email protected])  to let them know which books the student wants, and they will check it out to them for pick up in front of the school. 

Question: Where do I go if I need help with technology? 

Answer: Students can go to the librarians’ office hours if they need help with a device on  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday from 3:00 pm until 3:30 pm using the code WLHS-talktoalibrarian.

Please reach out to any staff member, specifically those on the student support staff, for more advice, general guidance, or someone to talk to.