The unspoken rules of NTI at Highlands


Tessa Killen

Digital Illustration for the monthly Unspoken Rules of Highlands series.

Disclaimer: This article is satire and for entertainment purposes only.

Dear fellow NTI learners,

     Let’s be honest, this year has been unbelievably rough. Schools are progressively closing around the area, local businesses are shutting down, only accepting carry out orders, and COVID-19 cases are increasing in numbers by the day. 

     With that in mind, here are the truly factual, yet unspoken rules of every student’s at-home learning experience.



     Stop dressing up so much for a stay-at-home class because, to put it bluntly, no one really cares. Yes, it’s understandable, you want to wake up looking stylish yet indistinctly comfortable for your first class with a full face of makeup on. The drawback from that is no one usually notices anyway since we’re all practically half asleep. 

     Additionally, this is so much of a hassle. There is no need to put yourself through the stress of waking up an hour or two early to put on lip gloss and mascara for another prepubescent through a computer screen. By the time you are an upperclassman, you’ll realize that it is way more comfortable to just dress casual and be yourself.


     This is (somewhat) an important year for you, so pay attention closely. Please attempt to restrain yourself from goofing around in class and gaming on any technological device. Playing unblocked games on the internet and skimming through illegal websites to watch a movie during class is such a middle school move, and you all are better than that. 

     Understandably, sophomore year is kind of like being the middle child, where you are completely forgotten and overlooked by your fellow grade levels. However, it is critical for you to stay focused and on task constantly. I mean, they call it “stress”-more year for a reason people. Your GPA and grades are no joke in this stage of high school and, quite frankly, may determine your future as well. So no pressure, my lovelies.


     Now, I know you guys have a box of tissues or an emotional support blanket on standby for your classes.  If you’re going to cry, at least turn the camera off and mute yourself. To be honest, nothing in this world will make this year easier for you, and for that, I apologize. You’re going to be stuck, poked, and prodded all year about academics, your GPA, grades, college, getting a perfect ACT and/or SAT score, etc. 

     Since this year is in the midst of a global pandemic, though, teachers, counselors, and colleges will do one of two things: 1. become even more hectic and strict to prepare you for your future ahead or 2. be lenient about the process, knowing this year has been a struggle for everyone. My guess is that it will be a mix of both.

     So, I suggest you do the best you can and take all the “good luck” you can get, because trust me, they’ll come in handy. And if you decide to cry during a Teams/Zoom call, do yourself a solid by turning the camera off and mute the mic because no one wants to see that, sweetie.


     I know you were looking forward to running the halls of Highlands and are now forever stuck with complaining how you have it “worse” than the class of 2020, but please chillax for a moment. You’re scaring the juniors.

     For us, it is pure senioritis on steroids, but we must persevere. You basically have one more semester left before you leave Highlands and start your next chapter in life. You may not get the memories you wanted or that all-around amazing title at the state championships, but at least we have each other? Right?

     Wrong! Honestly, stop focusing on all of that cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff and, instead, sit down and get your work done. The finish line is right around the corner, so it’s time to sprint to that cap and gown and finally graduate. Trust me, the underclassmen are ready to get us out of here. 

     Yes, NTI may not be what we all wanted. Yes, NTI may make some classes extremely hard and others a walk in the park. Yes, being isolated at home may make us go crazy with cabin fever. 

     But, trust and believe, our teachers are going crazy with the amount of late assignments and exam preparation. Do your homework! 



A student who cannot wait for 2020 to be over