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To my best friend...

February 2, 2024 at 5:00:00 PM

Solie Stenger '25

Intergrade friendship: a social relationship or bond formed between individuals who are in different grade levels within an educational institution. When first reading this definition, you might think, “Yeah, I have friends who aren't in my grade,” but have you ever thought about the pros and cons of these relationships? I'm sure we have all had the cool senior friend who we keep around for higher social standing or ‘clout.’ We’ve also got that freshman who follows us around, making us feel like we're doing community service by showing them the ins and outs of this place we call high school. 

Inter-grade friendships have their ups and downs. While many may see them as too much to handle, or even uncomfortable, stepping out of the bubble of the grade you're in is often a good thing. It allows for social and personal growth, a sense of guidance, and a broader understanding of life outside of school. 

When I was a freshman in high school, my best friend was a junior. Not only was our friendship a fun one, but it also allowed me to gain insight into both the challenges and opportunities that awaited me in my future years. Our bond allowed me to prepare better for the future, and now as a junior looking back it truly did prepare me. I already know how to manage the process and pressure of college research and SATs piled on top of a difficult academic course load. Even though I may not have seen it at the time, the common rants she would express about how stressful being a junior was, to my freshman self, gave me tips and tricks that I now value. Through exchanging our thoughts and values, I was also able to mature quicker and gain greater self-awareness. This, however, goes both ways, as from the junior perspective, being friends with a freshman may not have necessarily seemed “cool,” but it allowed her to learn to adapt to different social groups and situations. This adaptability is key in life outside of the cliques and drama of high school. 

Everyone has an inspiration – whether it's your best friend or Lebron James. Intergrade friendships allow for personal older mentors in a growing teenager's life, which is essential. Being a teenager is hard; you’ve got to learn the ropes of high school, know who to avoid, and learn how to carry yourself, among other things. Being thrown as a small fish into the tank that is a high school full of older sharks is quite unnerving. Having someone to aid you through this vast sea is extremely helpful. 

While introducing yourself to students in other grades may be uncomfortable, recognize that older and younger friends allow you to grow and learn. In the long run, these friends who serve as mentors and influences will benefit you in extraordinary ways while providing a lasting connection.

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