The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Things Every Freshman Needs to Know

When coming to a new campus, getting acclimated to the school may take some time. Incoming freshman and new students, here’s a guide to things you should know about here at school.

The Scoop on Food

As a freshman, the food options on and off campus can be pretty expansive, especially when compared with the limited on-campus food at junior high. The options at the school are virtually limitless. Mexican food, sandwiches, bagels, smoothies—almost any type of food is at the touch of your finger tips. But as always, with great power comes great responsibility. Too many trips to McDonalds can be deadly and too many late lunches can be an instant ticket to Saturday School. Here’s a quick guide to the food to help you safely and successfully navigate the food scene at school.

On Campus

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The school’s cafeteria serves up reliable, cheap food that is always there when you need it. For a sandwich, chips and a drink, a meal from the cafeteria costs $3.50. As far as the other items are concerned, the doughy chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls are a must-try: some students love them, some students hate them.

“If you go to the cafeteria get the spicy chicken sandwiches, curly fries or regular sub sandwiches. Sometimes get the lunch specials when they look good,” sophomore Sean Nguyen said.

Across the quad, the lunch cart is a great place to go if you’re in need of a quick slice of pizza. Although it lacks the variety that other restaurants in the area may have, it is great for grab and go food.

Although it isn’t technically on campus food, the taco truck is also a delicious, albeit unhealthy, lunch stop for those that don’t want to venture too far off campus. Bacon burgers, tacos, burritos, twinkies and soda are just a few of the items you’ll find at this hub for not-so-nutritious food.

“Definitely try to get the fresh stuff that they serve in the cafeteria because it’s amazingly good, and its usually healthier than eating a Pop-Tart and curly fries. But the best thing to do is either bring lunch from home or make friends with a senior,” senior Mai Dvorak said.

Downtown Los Altos

If you’re a freshman, chances are that you’ve been downtown before. But there are some great lunch deals for high school students that you might not know about. LuLu’s offers a great $5 burrito special, and you can’t beat Spot Pizza’s deal, $5 for 2 slices and a drink.

Other great spots downtown include Posh, the Italian Deli, Jamba, and LeBoulanger.

El Monte—El Camino Corner

With a Chipotle, Pizza My Heart and Jamba Juice all in one spot, this food center at the corner of El Monte is a great stop that’s within biking distance. The Bagel Street Cafe is also a nice touch for cheap bagel sandwiches, and with a McDonalds right across the street, there’s something for everyone at this food mall.

Other Stops

Of course, great lunch spots aren’t limited to Downtown and the El Monte El Camino shopping center, although those are definitely the closest. If you’re willing to travel the distance, Lettuce, Armadillo Willy’s and Pasta Market are all solid lunch stops. Although they are a stretch on a bike, they are doable.

And if you can get an upper classman to drive you out, with a little ambition, runs to La Costena and La Bamba (taquerias) are definitely possible.

But all of these lunch runs can be leave any student broke. Many students bring their own lunch to school every day.

“Pack your own lunch. You’ll be rich,” senior Jared Rulison said.

Who to talk to around campus

Being on a high school campus for the first time can definitely be disorienting. Signing up for classes, campus size and extracurriculars can all make life at high school seem a little overwhelming at times. Knowing the names of a couple key faces around campus can be a huge help.

The counseling office can be a huge resource in any situation. If classes are getting out of hand, if you need help arranging classes, or even if you just need someone to talk to, counselors Ryan Carter, Dafnia Adler, Maryann Smetzer, Ariel Rojas, Jacob Larin and Judy Prothro are always available to talk and give you a hand. Brunch, lunch and before and after school are the best times to stop by.  Also if you need help figuring out who to talk to about a problem, what forms you might need, the secretaries in the administration building (and especially in the counseling department) are always willing to help.

“You shouldn’t be intimidated to talk to your counselors,” senior Jack Schonher said. “They are there to help.”

Kristin Joseph in the College/Career Center is another great resource. If you need a work permit, are in search of internships or jobs during the school year or summer, or are looking for some guidance about naviance and the college process, the College/Career Center is always worth a stop.

If you have a bigger problem around campus, an issue with a teacher or a class, an assistant principal is the right person to talk to. Each student is assigned to one based on their last name, but most are willing to help out any student who needs it.

If you need any help with coursework for your classes the Tutorial Center is open after school with many volunteer and student tutors available to help you in any area you might be struggling in. Whether the subject is math, history, science, English or Spanish, tutors are always there to help you.

Quyen Nguyen, who runs the Tutorial Center, can help you out if you need to make up a test or need to find a suitable tutor. And if you forget to print out an assignment, the computers in the Tutorial Center are a great way to avoid a late assignment.

Things to know about classes

There’s a wide variety of classes and teachers at school and you are undoubtedly going to be placed in classes you both enjoy and don’t enjoy, and will have to work with teachers you might not click with. If you have a problem with the course material or difficulty of the class overall talk to your teacher about it first before talking to a counselor about switching because many teachers are willing to help new students who are confused about things.


“Use your lockers! They are great for keeping your bag not too heavy. Don’t keep food in them though. That is just asking for trouble.”
– Joy Montgomery, Senior

“Make use of your locker or else you’ll be lugging 6-7 periods worth of binders in your backpack all day.”
– Sean Nguyen, Sophomore

“Never forget your lock combination. Ever. Your life is over when that happens.”
– Emma Orner, Junior

“Don’t take on too much at once. [Take] a few challenging classes each year and some fun ones too like art and singing. Balance is important not only in life but also on your college application.”
– Joy Montgomery, Senior

“Lastly, don’t be afraid don’t to meet new people. Join a club, take a sport, or find some way to remain social. Finding a good balance between your social life and academic life is key.”
– Troy Hetzler, Senior

“In the beginning it’s always best to take the teacher’s advice on how much reading, homework or studying to do until one can decide what works best.”
– Niki Anguelov, Junior

“Get to know your teachers. You might start liking a class that you never thought you would.”
– Tyler Polen, Senior

“Always do your homework and turn it in on time. If you turn in all your work, it makes your life a lot easier, especially if you’re bad at test taking or it’s a subject you’re not confident in. For English classes, always have your teacher look over your essay before the day its due so you can get feedback.”
– Troy Hetzler, Senior

Getting Out There
“You should get the most out of high school and not regret anything you did not do because you only go through it once.”
– Will Grau, Senior

“Go do something you hate. It’ll build character.” – Jared Rulison, Senior

“The best thing to do is make friends in your class so you can help each other if you end up not understanding something. Do a lot of fun stuff freshman year because sophomore year and junior year gets increasingly hard so you will not have a life.”
– Mai Dvorak, Senior

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