By Joy Linn Mackey

When I started the ninth grade I was scared to death! Though I didn’t literally die, I died a thousand deaths in my mind. I remember thinking things like, “What if no one likes me?”; “What if I can’t keep my grades up?”; “What if we have to wear uniforms, yuk!”; “What if we don’t have to wear uniforms, yikes!”; “We didn’t have lockers in middle school, what if I can’t open my locker in high school?”; “What if I trip walking up the stairs and every one laughs, or worse yet I get trampled by a heard of students and meet my untimely death?!” Ah yes, the extremely active mind of the young teen.

Attention all 9th graders, here is a better thought. Instead of falling prey to uninvited brain pop-ups, in its place, focus on the nine power moves below. A power move is an action that takes you to the next level. It empowers you for success. If you commit to carrying out these nine power moves you will see yourself accomplishing the goals you set out to achieve and you will have a great start to your high school journey.

Power Move 1: Think Like a CEO!

CEO is an acronym for Chief Executive Officer. A chief executive officer is the highest-ranking person in a company, ultimately responsible for making decisions and being responsible for its overall growth. Think of yourself and your high school career as your business – a business that you lead, and where your daily actions will make all the difference in whether the company is successful or not.

Power Move 2: Create a Business Plan!

A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. As a student/CEO, you are charged with thinking about your success plan for high school. Ask yourself questions such as, “Do I plan to attend college?” “What are my learning strengths and weaknesses?” “What are the actions I should take in high school that will prepare me for a smooth transition into college?” Think through these types of questions on your own first, and then share your thoughts with your parents or mentor to get feedback. Finally, compile your plan in an organized written format.

Power Move 3: Join Forces with Your Guidance Counselor!

One of your first duties as student/CEO is to make your high school guidance counselor your ally – someone with whom you can connect to receive support. Find out your guidance counselors name, where your guidance counselors office is located, and then go introduce yourself during the first week of school. Be sure to tell the guidance counselor about your written success plan, and ask for any suggestions they may have to help you reach your goals.

Power Move 4: Find Resources!

There’s really no time to be bored as a high school student – and particularly one of your caliber (CEO). There is always something to do, or something to research and find out. Your school and other community organizations will have information about programs and opportunities that may be of interest to you – many may be free or low cost. Look for PSAT prep classes, SAT prep classes, college prep programs, Saturday programs, and summer programs. Check around often to see what new information you can find. Talk to teachers, visit libraries, ask your mentor and also check online.

Power Move 5: Choose the Right Friends!

Here’s the truth: How you choose your friends can either make you or break you. It’s great to have fun and enjoy yourself while in high school, but be sure to select friends that are balanced. In other words, select those who focus on achieving their goals and not just having fun. If you are constantly in the presence of people who lack focus, you will begin to lack focus. Really quickly you can find yourself in a downward spiral that is difficult to reverse. So choose friends wisely. Also, think about how you feel when you are with certain people. Are they uplifting and inspiring or do they drag you down? Stay around people who reflect a positive attitude and will bring out the best in you! You should also strive to be that person for others.

Power Move 6: Get Active!

Don’t just sit there and do nothing! What activities do you like? Make a list. High school is the perfect time to delve into school clubs, teams and other groups in areas where you find the greatest interest. If you are not sure of your interests, think about joining something new to see if you like it – you may find something exciting that you really enjoy!

Power Move 7: Volunteer in Your Community!

Giving time and energy in order to help someone else is always a good idea. Think of an organization where you would like to volunteer. In order to jumpstart your thinking, reflect on causes you are interested in supporting, or activities that would challenge you (in a good way) to learn something new.

Power Move 8: Read!

There are so many awesome reasons to read! And when I mention reading, I am referring to reading a book – in addition to your required class assignments. Blogs and articles are good for information and research but for developing your language and writing skills, books rule! First of all, reading books will improve your verbal abilities and improve your focus and concentration. In various studies, the reading of books has been linked to high academic achievement. It also improves memory and reduces stress! Lastly, if you want to be a great speaker or writer, be a devoted reader.

Power Move 9: Start a Portfolio!

One of the best things you can do throughout high school is to compile a portfolio. Save your best work and projects from various classes; keep report cards, awards, and certificates; save employment and volunteer records, as well as records of your extracurricular activities. Place all of these items in a box, drawer or crate, or even scan into an online portfolio. You will be grateful when you are in the 12th grade and need this information to fill out college and scholarship applications. It’s going to make your life a whole lot easier!

There you have it, nine power moves to keep you on top of your ninth grade journey. Use this as a check list to make sure you are accomplishing important tasks this school year. Also review your written success plan often. Here’s to you having an awesome year! Make it great!

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