By David Robaina, Key Club International trustee from the Southwest District 

I didn’t have the greatest freshman year. I was often nervous, stressed and unhappy — so when I think about advice for sophomores, it’s more focused on social life and extracurricular activities than building a resume. 

Translated indirectly from Greek, the word “sophomore” means “wise fool.”  

The “wise” part relates to an understanding of how high school works — the reputation of certain teachers, the difficulty of specific classes, the ambience of the student section during a school event. 

The “fool” part relates to the belief that you have all the answers. Despite a year’s worth of knowledge, sophomores are constantly facing new challenges (for me, it was a more difficult course load), and a lot of times it’s embarrassing to ask for help when you need it. 

Sophomores, do not be wise fools. Acknowledge that certain aspects of high school are unfamiliar to you and have the humility to reach out for help.  

That leads me to my second piece of advice: Be brave enough to try new things. Whether it’s taking a class without your friends, trying an unfamiliar extracurricular or talking to a new classmate at lunch, having the courage to expand your comfort zone will make the rest of your high school experience more fulfilling.  

Serving as a lieutenant governor in the Southwest District really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Within a few months of being elected, I found myself speaking alone in front of hundreds of people to raise awareness about our Governor’s Project. I organized service events for Key Club members all over the Southwest, and I learned how to communicate with people I had never met. 

I often think about how I became more organized and hardworking, and how I made connections with high school students I never would have met if not for Key Club. Looking back, serving as a lieutenant governor was one of the most impactful experiences of my life, but it never would have happened if I was too afraid to step outside my comfort zone.  

Be courageous, because it’s always better to try and fail than never try at all.  

Finally, do not allow yourself to stereotype others. After freshman year, it’s easy to identify someone as “the football player” or “the theater kid.” We’re not clique members from “Mean Girls.” Everyone has ideas and passions — beyond their academics and extracurriculars — that are waiting to be expressed, so don’t pigeonhole someone as one-dimensional. Recognize that there’s likely more to their story than what’s on the surface. Take some time to listen. 

Key Club is a great way to try new things and meet different types of people. Check to see if your high school has a Key Club. Learn more at