The Moment the Bell Rings: A Parent’s Guide

Students have told us over and over that they were anxious about their transition to high school. Rising freshmen asked how they can get through high school without succumbing to peer pressure, how to manage stress, how to navigate bullying, etc.

Stories students can relate to provide the most impact, so we partnered with the Telling Room and area students to write a guidebook of experiences with tips from upperclassmen: The Moment the Bell Rings: Advice to Incoming Students from Casco Bay Region Upperclassmen. In this book, 19 student writers from area high schools share their triumphs, tribulations, lessons, and learnings – from the advantages of joining a sports team to the challenges of balancing work, play, and school. There is loss, frustration, perseverance, personal connection, and lots of encouragement. Area high schools have partnered with Casco Bay CAN to distribute the book to incoming freshmen. 

As a parent, you have a profound impact on your teen’s decisions, including those around stress and substance use. That’s why we share this book with parents, as well as students, to use as a tool to begin discussions with your teen about the challenges of transitioning to high school. Listed below are several talking points to engage your teen, as well as the topics covered in specific stories. 

Parents have found this a great resource and we hope you will find it helpful too!

Where to find The Moment the Bell Rings 

Interactive audio/written version

Audio version on YouTube

Digital print version

General discussion ideas

“I know it’s only the beginning of school, but as you get to know your teachers, advisors, coaches, think about who you might feel comfortable talking with if you need some advice or when something comes up.”

>>The social worker is always a good option to recommend.

“Everyone experiences stress during high school. It goes with the territory. It’s how you deal with the stress that is important. Sometimes people use drugs or alcohol to avoid difficult/stressful feelings. Let’s think of some healthy ways to deal with stress so you have them ready when you need them.”

>>Help your teen think of healthy outlets such as exercise, meditation, listening to music, keeping a journal, etc.

“I remember when I was in high school, sometimes it was hard to get the negative self-talk out of my head, just like some of the writers in the book. If you can think of one positive thing to say to yourself over and over and have it ready for when you need it, it will help to quiet the negative talk.”

>>Examples – “I got this.” “This is a blip on the radar.” “I will get through this.” “I won’t give up.” Or “I can do this.”

“Several writers talk about all the positive and negative influences of high school. I want you to know that you can always talk with me.”

>>Make a plan to check-in on how they are feeling about balancing academics, their friends and social life, with extra-curricular activities and other pressures. Remind them to reflect on what is most important.

“Courage is a strong theme in the book along with staying true to yourself. It takes courage to try something new, to be who you are; and to keep trying even if at first you fail. You will learn invaluable lessons along the way.

>>Ask your teen to think about a time where they were courageous and reflect on that when faced with needing to be brave again during high school. Example – riding a bike takes courage and perseverance; remind them they did it.

Stories about specific topics (Note: we will list the pages from the print version and also link to the story on YouTube since there is no unique URL for each story within the website)

Talking with supportive adults

Recognizing and managing stress

Getting involved with a sport, club or group


Substance use

The Moment the Bell Rings: Advice to Incoming Students from Casco Bay Region Upperclassmen is a collaboration between Casco Bay CAN and the Telling Room, a writing and publishing nonprofit organization that empowers youth to share their voices with the world.