Well, seniors, if you’re reading this, it is too late. Too late to turn things around and make sure that “this year is your year.”
Too late to follow through on your self-assuring promises that you would pull straight As or make it to class everyday on time. Too late even to snark at an underclassmen for stopping in the middle of the hallway one last time. It’s all too late because at this point only one thing is certain: the end is crawling toward us faster than the rats through the air ducts.
As the music is cued and the curtains begin to close on the four year marathonic love-affair that was high school, we decided it was time to look back on this cringey and awkward yet undeniably enthralling and once-in-a-lifetime experiment in pre-paring teenagers like us for the real world.
In 2014, we began our high school experience through our wide-eyed and bushy-tailed alter egos—yes, our freshmen selves. For many of us, this year consisted of regular verbal harassment from upperclassmen, “finding our peeps” and pipe dreams about a place where school spirit actually existed. Though academic rigor was a light shower compared to the monsoon that was to come, this introductory year of high school could still most closely be compared to a Sequoia Flowater machine: entering with great hype and promise, but leaving perhaps more than a little banged up.
The year 2015 hosted the high school honeymoon phase. Armed with friends from the previous year, severely inflated egos and maybe even a driver’s license, there is no question that we were ready to run the show in our sophomore campaign (sidenote: we weren’t). Fully expecting to pass Go and collect $200, we quickly became frustrated by our continued underclassmen status, the move away from the Schaffer Paragraph method and our growing angst levels; we thus proceeded to take out our anger on the only beings lower than us in the school hierarchy: the hallway-clogging freshmen. Best case: we escaped sophomore year with only a few bumps, bruises and late nights spent reading Sparknotes; worst case: the subject of our daily headspace travels changed from “Where have I cried on campus?” to “Where haven’t I cried on campus?”
In 2016, the fabled junior year became our reality. As notorious for claiming lives as Genghis Khan at the height of the Mongolian empire, junior year certainly lived up to expectations and proved to be a certifiable trainwreck. Characterized by no more than two hours of sleep on any given night, rising social expectations, the introduction of caffeine and the excessive procrastination of studying for the SATs, the ACTs, the IBs and the ABCs, junior year was a lot like a contemporary rendition of David and Goliath (except in our version, Dave takes a serious L). But in the face of off-the-charts stress levels, a never ending stream of assessments and frequent considerations of dropping out and making a career out of selling our white blood cells, we ultimately managed to overcome, now impatiently awaiting the arrival of our lord and savior: senior year (update: (s)he showed up, but just pointed and laughed).
Finally, it was 2017—the year of lasts. The last rally, the last collaboration Monday, the last lie to our teachers about Turnitin.com glitching at 11:59. First semester consisted of doubt, fatigue and being forced to finally learn our social security numbers. As we nervously submitted our first college applications, tensions ran higher than Khrushchev’s blood pressure at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the prospect of making it to second semester seemed the only silver lining.
And then, at last, we arrived. We walked eagerly up the marble steps and opened the pearly, white gates of second semester only to be trampled by a stampede of IB tests, final projects and existential-crisis-provoking college decisions. Seriously, the conspiracy that second semester senior year is easy is a true masterpiece of deceit. But after the dust had cleared and we picked ourselves up, it seemed that the storm had passed, and we had finally fulfilled Drake’s 2013 prophecy: we had started from the bottom, but the whole team was still here.
Now, before you decide to press ‘upgrade’ and leave high school, we invite you to take a moment to look back and reflect on the past four years. We invite you to remember that this experience, regardless of its ups and downs, armed you with tools integral to your future success. Most of all, we invite you to rethink your notion that high school was just high school, and perhaps that it was an experience that, for better or for worse, made you who you are today.
So if you’re graduating in June, we applaud you; you worked hard for this and should be proud of your achievement. And if you’re not, we not only wish you luck in your future escapades as a Sequoian, but we also suggest that you do your absolute best to make the most of the one hell of a roller coaster ride that is your high school experience. Everyone says this but we’ll say it anyway: you only get one high school experience, and it’s on you to make it sick.
It’s been real,
Mackenzie Clarke, Trevor Crowell,
Maddie Pei & Zack Rosenblatt