High School Advice and Thoughts from Olympian Maame Afua Biney

photo courtesy of Afuas instagram (@biney.biney)

photo courtesy of Afua’s instagram (@biney.biney)

Maame Afua Biney. You may know her as a U.S short track skater will be participating in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but most of you also know her as a former South Lakes High School student. Like any student, we all need some advice on how to survive school when things don’t seem to be going the way you hoped for. Well, you’re in luck because Afua has some advice on her personal high school experience and some tips on how to survive these difficult four years.

“Freshman year in high school was kind of nerve-wracking in a way.” Afua explains as she recalls her first day at South Lakes. “You’re in a way bigger school and you’re meeting new people.”

I’m sure everyone who entered those doors for the first time felt the same way. Going from middle school to high school is a big change. It’s a new environment with new people you may have never seen before. A whole bowl of emotions starts to permeate you.

“When I first walked into South Lakes, I remember feeling stressed, nervous, and excited all in one,” Afua says. “I’m in a situation where I’ve never been before and I didn’t know how to deal with it. But now high school is like the norm for me because I’ve been doing it for 3 years now.”

It might have taken a while for some to get used to the new environment, and for others, it may have taken a couple of days, but eventually, we all get over it and a new problem arises: grades. If you feel like your grades are struggling, here is Afua’s advice:

“My grades got better over the years 100% because I cared more about it as I got older. I improved my grades by studying and trying to enjoy the subject, even if I HATE it. So trying to enjoy the subject makes learning it a little more bearable.”

It’s definitely important that you attempt to enjoy the subject even if it’s not interesting to you, but it’s also very important to study for every class you take because without practicing the content, it won’t be in your brain for when it comes time to apply what you have learned.

If you need extra help with any of your classes, a good option is to stay after school with a teacher, but sometimes, even that may not help.

“It didn’t really help me when I stayed after school to get help because a teacher would be too busy with another student so I didn’t really have the time to stay after another time.” Afua mentions.

Although this may the case in some instances, it’s always a good idea to let your teacher know in advance that you will be staying after school with them so they have an idea on what to work on with you to better the experience. Doing things as simple as letting your teacher know in advance really builds a strong student-teacher experience, which will really enhance your learning experience.
“I think it’s really important to have a good student-teacher relationship because you’d have a mentor kind of relationship which is really awesome to have,” Afua explains. “I do have a lot of teachers that I can go to for advice. Every single one of my teachers that I’ve had since I’ve been in high school, I definitely learned something from them.”

Besides academics, there are many after school clubs to take advantage of at South Lakes. It’s definitely a good idea to join some that revolve around your interests, but sometimes it is hard to join clubs when you have other after school activities planned. Afua had a similar experience.

“I never joined any after-school clubs because I was so busy from the start. I wanted to do volleyball and track but like I said, I never had the time to do so.”

That being said though, Afua still believes there are benefits to joining after school clubs.

“Despite the fact that I didn’t join any clubs or do anything outside of school, I think that joining something is really good for anyone because you build social skills that you’ll need in the future.”

Afua was and is a very busy person. At school, she had a lot going on for her as she mentioned before, and now as an olympian, she is busier than ever. To keep everything under control, time management is key.

“I do believe that time management is important,” Afua advises. “There isn’t enough time in this world to do everything you want. So managing your time wisely is the best advice I can give to anyone. If you manage time then time won’t manage you.”

High school may seem difficult, and it is in many ways, but it’s never a good idea to overwork yourself. High school should be memorable, so not only should you be focusing on your academics, but also on how to make high school a great experience.

“My overall experience was pretty good. I am fortunate enough to have friends who were there when I needed some help when I was out of town and teachers who understood. Looking back, I think I was very lucky. My tip would be to just have fun with it. Experience it as best you can and make friends.”