We learn in this week's Parsha, right off the bat, we are introduced to how bad the generation was. But, at the same time, we also see that Noach didn't fall prey to the ways of corruption in his generation. Noach had every excuse to do so.
There is a famous pyschological phenomena known as the Bystander Effect, whereby a person will not react, for example calling the ambulance or police when they see an incident - merely because they assume everyone else is taking care of it. The biggest mistake of someone falling victim to the bystander effect, is that not only will he not act, but he will also follow in the ways of the people around him via peer pressure.
We have all been to that place of peer pressure, we know how hard it has been. However, with Noach, it says in the posuk "Es Elokim Hisalech Noach" - That Noach walked with Hashem. We can learn from this the strength to be an individual and to move the peer pressure, and to realize that you don't need other people to make yourself great. Every single one of us is special and great in our own way, but by focusing on a relationship with G-d, you can help to improve yourself despite how other people may view us.
We are all in a school that people have been made to look at is for 'less religious' students, but what I can gain out of this year is that you should always focus on yourself and your own growth, and not about what other people may think about you. We are all people and human, we all can fall and we all can rise. We should never let other people's our opinions dictate our own future.
You only have one life. Use it well.
~ Judah Schnitzler is from Lakewood, NJ, and is first year in Yeshiva.