Recent Grads Reflect on Their 9th Grade Selves

Here at Northwood, ninth graders write letters to their senior selves in English class the last week of school. Shortly before graduation, the English teacher delivers the letter to her former students.

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Sabryna Strack ’17 reads her letter in her St. Lawrence dorm room.

Now a first-year student at St. Lawrence University, Sabryna Strack 17’, received a letter addressed to herself in familiar hand writing from her 15 year old self.

Strack said she is a goal-oriented student who is always planning ahead, looking for the next thing in her life. “I am mostly spontaneous,” she said, “and prefer to surround myself with encouraging and supportive people.”

She reflected on the letter written by her 9th grade self:

“The letter I wrote to myself freshman year contained lots of advice and motivation for my future self. It says things like “Take time for yourself,” “travel the world,” “fall in love,” and “don’t worry about your destination, just enjoy the ride.”

Ever since freshman year and facing some adversity, Sabryna has come a long way. “I can definitely see changes from ninth grade until now. I can tell that I have more confidence and a stronger outlook on life. I accomplished a lot of what the letter said: I made lots of lasting memories with my classmates and peers, I fell in love, and made it into an academically-challenging school like I hoped to do!”

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The letter Sabryna Strack ’17 wrote to her 12th grade self as a ninth grader.

“I don’t exactly know why I wrote what I wrote,” said Sabryna. “I probably put most of the things in the letter because I hoped that they would come true because in my freshman mind, those were things that I believed would make me the happiest.”

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Lexi Barile ’17 reads her letter in her St. Lawrence dorm room.

Just as Sabryna reflected on the letter she wrote to her future self, Lexi Barile, also a first-year at St. Lawrence University, grew into someone she never knew she could become.

She used to be the one who would give a presentation in class or give a speech nervously, but says she has more confidence now.

“Everyday I am experiencing new things, new views and ideas, that challenge the way I learned and know things,” she said. “I am not the person I use to be.” Plus, she added, “music is another passion of mine, as many people at Northwood know.” She says she found a piano on campus and plays almost every day. Her experience at Northwood allowed her to develop into the person she is today. She will continue to grow and change everyday.

She reflected on being this little ninth grade girl with braces on, too shy to give a simple “hello.” She’s currently shooting for the stars and achieving her goals in college.

“My ninth grade self, although insecure, mouth filled with braces, did have some truth behind her words. I am currently sitting outside the Student Center at St.Lawrence University and I am beyond happy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of some random memory from my days at Northwood. It will always be home – something many students don’t say about their high school. Northwood allowed me to grow into the person I wanted to become. Someone I’m proud to be as the next four years of my life begin.”

In Lexi’s letter, she wrote some thought-provoking ideas that should be on every Northwood students’ mind. She wrote, “Seeing that you’ve made it this far, I don’t think you need a “good luck” or a “keep going” motivational speech. Go be who you want, go do what you want – as long as you’re happy. And don’t forget all you’ve learned and accomplished these past four years. I already know you’re going to walk away from this place with some of the happiest memories you’ll ever have. Now hold onto those memories, and go make some more, wherever you go.”

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The letter Lexi Barile ’17 wrote to herself in 9th grade.

As Lexi reflected on her letter, she has passed on a message for present and future Northwood students. “I knew that if I could make it through high school and come out a better person on the other side, I could do anything – and I did. Sure, there were some pretty big bumps along the way, but I managed to overcome them one step at a time. To any student reading this, make the most of every minute that you’re at Northwood. How fast the time flew by is something I will never understand. It feels like yesterday I came to Northwood as a young, thirteen year old freshman. Five years later, here I am, an eighteen year old freshman sitting on a college campus.”

“Appreciate the moments when you and your friends are all laughing at some silly joke someone made,” she continued. “Or when you’re all complaining in the middle of January about how cold Lake Placid is. Take the time to stop, look around, and appreciate your time at this special place. I know I did.”

Lexi says she is thriving and still accomplishing her goals in life. “I feel that I am still accomplishing things in my letter,” she said. “Although happy and content, I continue to grow as a person everyday. College experiences force you to do that. You have to decide which path you’re going to take. Having been at SLU for a few weeks now, I can tell I’ve already made lifelong friends as well as new memories. I work everyday to be the person I knew I could become when I was a freshman.”

Ed note: English teacher Erin Tinti (née Farmer) was Sabryna and Lexi’s ninth grade English teacher, and she assigned this “Letter to my 12th grade self” activity. Tinti now teaches English in Vermont.

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