Teen Jackie Flannagan

Don't Worry, Be Happy

When Jackie Flanagan's parents first told her they were leaving their home in San Francisco to move to Bluffton, she didn't believe them. Jackie is a very social person and after having grown up with an extremely close-knit group of friends, she wasn't too keen on the idea of parting ways with all of them.

"I went to a really small school and there were only 25 kids in my class," said Jackie. "We had all been together since the first grade so it was kind of hard."

Although the statement "kind of hard" may have been spoken with the casual understatement of a typical West Coaster, Jackie seems to be adjusting nicely to the change. A freshman at Hilton Head Prep, she has so far had no trouble making friends.

"All the kids were very inviting," she said of her new classmates. "I knew almost all the gossip by the second day. It was a really easy transition."

Nevertheless, she couldn't help but notice a few interesting differences between people here and the folks back home. By now she is used to the word "y'all," but it still impresses her how polite the boys are.

"They open the door for you all the time and they call girls ladies," she said. "But other than that, it's not much of a difference. People are still people."

But, her classmates do seem intrigued by the California lifestyle.

"Kids would always ask me if I surfed or went shopping everyday after school," she said. "They were all really interested in California and what my life was like before I moved here. They think it's all about the O.C. and Laguna Beach."

For the record, Jackie insists it's not really like that. She describes life in San Francisco as "pretty laid-back, pretty cool," and she says that she and her friends did pretty much the same things there as people do here: hang out, go the movies, stuff like that. Since Jackie enjoys having a social life, she didn't waste any time getting hooked up with a group of friends.

"A big part of it is that you really have to keep an open mind," said Jackie. "At first I just smile and see what everyone else is like. But I really don't have to think about how to make friends; I just go to school and meet people."

So where do her studies fit in? Jackie has wisely made a pact with herself to focus on schoolwork rather than piling on too many extracurriculars during the first year of what can often be an academically challenging transition. But next year she plans to do cheerleading and track, and she is also enthusiastic about joining the Explorer's Program. This is a program where students get to go out on calls with firefighters and paramedics and experience a little taste of this important job.

"I always thought it would be really cool to save someone's life," she said. "I think it's a job you can be proud of."

Other than that, Jackie has pondered a career as an architect or interior designer. But no matter what path she chooses, rest assured it will be paved with good times.

"My life philosophy is to just take it easy," she said. "Don't worry too much about any one thing because it will pass."