Four Seniors Take a Look Back Before Graduation

Brittany Boone, Reporter

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The future may still look blurry, but finally, the time is here- this is it.

I used to watch High School Musical 3, on repeat, wondering what this would feel like.

Finally, we are seniors, and we are on the road to graduation.

As we all prepare for this soon-to-be reality, I decided that it is equally important to keep in mind where this high school journey began.

My high school experience may be unique and specific to me, but behind each current and future senior, there has to be, and will be, some sort of story that we can learn from.  

I talked to three seniors in the library- each with a unique background.

Sitting with me at the table was senior Sam Bechtel, a theatre participant and musician who participates in the choir’s select ensemble, Chanticleer. Also, there is senior Angel Gilbert, part of the orchestra’s select string ensemble, and truly one of the sweetest girls I know. The final senior is Caity Minor- a soccer player who is very involved in our athletics department. Minor and I met when she came to Shrewsbury Elementary School in fourth grade.

Then there is me- I am a writer and a Christian who loves to learn new things about people and their individual beauty. I’m also involved in many school activities (something I learned is very important).  

Together, we are all honors students, we are all involved in various clubs and organizations, and we each bring something different to the roundtable.

At the table, everyone talked, laughed, and reminisced about our past.

We discussed the things we would say to ourselves back then, had we known what we do now.

 

Question: What is one thing that you would tell the incoming freshman/ the current eighth graders?

 

CM: Take it one day at a time. Don’t try to rush into anything. That’s what I did, but it’s still rough.

AG: It may suck, but don’t try to rush through high school, because when you’re a senior you’re going to say, “I don’t want to leave; why did I ever think I wanted to leave?” I mean, college will be great either way.

CM: There are still moments where I look back, and I’m like, “Man why didn’t I do that? If I had just spent a little more time, I could have done that, and I regret it.

AG: Take any opportunities that come your way.

CM: Don’t take things for granted. We are very lucky that we have a good system, and we have these opportunities to do like these clubs and everything, so join lots of clubs!

BB: And the middle schoolers are definitely getting that experience because they have so many cool clubs already. Like there’s a sign language club, and a geocaching club. I wish they would’ve had those when I was there, but in high school, definitely, I’d suggest getting involved.

SB: Don’t be afraid to make new friends and lose old ones. As you change, and as you figure out who you are, what you want and need in a friend will change. And try new activities! It’s the best way to meet new people who like the same things you do. And, organization is key. I love my planner with the flowers on it and my nice pink sparkly gel pens. Like, I’m that person with lemon water and a nice desk setup, super aesthetic like on Instagram. But honestly it makes the world of difference for me. Everyone is different, of course. So finding what organization works for you and sticking with it. On the same token, not being afraid to ask for help is key. The internet is a great resource, but it’s only a great resource when used responsibly…

Question: If you could go back; what would you say to yourself as a freshman?

Senior Sam Bechtel discusses her high school journey and the advice she would give to others. Photo courtesy of Sam Bechtel

SB: Hard work pays off. Do the work. Don’t slack off. Because I mean, it’ll come back. Everything builds off of each other in school especially. Oh, and don’t be afraid to make new friends. Aww, yeah! Because like you [Boone] and I; we met in eighth grade I think. Yeah, through Inspiration. I was a lot more shy back then, and I think you have to meet people. You know, build those relationships.

BB: I would tell her that it gets better. Ninth grade was an awkward year of me wearing neon colors and trying to figure life out. I was so naive, but in the best way. Also, I took myself and my homework way too seriously. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I stayed in my room until dinner everyday; I just don’t think it was healthy. We’re never going to reach perfection, so I’d tell her not to even put that pressure on herself.

AG: Make sure you stay on top of things. Stay on top of your work, because it could become easy to fall behind.

BB: I second that. I think that is so important.

CM: Take it easy. I went 110% freshman year in everything I did because it was all new and I was like, “Yeah, we’re going to do great this year.” So, I feel like I exhausted myself because I did everything, I was involved in everything, and I left no time for just relaxing.

 

Question: What would you tell yourself as a sophomore?

SB: Ooh. That’s hard. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That was my biggest thing, because like Bio, I sucked. It was horrible. I just didn’t get it, but I said, “I need help,” finally, at the end of the fall semester, and you know, I got it. People helped me, and it was fine, but if I hadn’t asked for that, I probably still would have been failing. So, you know, asking for help isn’t weakness, It’s saying, “Hey, I can’t do this on my own,” which is completely fine. I mean, you can’t expect yourself to do everything on your own.

AG: I would say, hey this year isn’t going to be your best, but you’re going to make it through it. Wait until next year, I’d tell her it’s going to get better.

CM: Sophomore year, I felt like it was my “lay-low” year. Don’t do too much or too little, kind of blend in and get through that year.

BB: I barely remember much of my sophomore year, but I think that year, I didn’t really have that many friends in any of my classes. So, I’d say, learn how to be both dependent and independent. There are going to be times in life where you feel lonely, and that’s not always so bad, because I definitely learned what a lot of my strengths and weaknesses are that year.

CM: Exactly, it was just that kind of year, I feel like everyone goes through that.

 

Question: If you had the chance to say something to your junior-self, what would it be?

SB: Take every opportunity you are given, because they’re not going to come again. Also, start thinking about your future, because your grades matter junior year. That’s when they really start to matter. Junior and senior years are when the colleges start looking at you. It’s when they focus on you, but also you’re still a kid, so still take those opportunities to be a kid while you still are. Like balancing how to plan your future, but knowing it’s not a plan that’s set in stone. Write your plan in pencil and be prepared to erase it. It’s going to change.

AG: Cherish this year, because it’s probably going to be one of your best years. You’re on top of the food chain, but you still don’t have to stress about college too much, because next year all you’re going to think about is college, and you may not enjoy the year as much.

CM: Try harder! I’d tell her, “You did not try hard enough!” You could have done better.

AG: It was the opposite for me.

CM: Really? Oh wow. I did not put enough effort into last year, I didn’t do terrible, but I know, I could have done better. I was think more of how we’re going to be leaving soon, so I didn’t really try, and then they were like, “Oh, let’s start looking at colleges.” I knew that I wasn’t ready.

BB: I would have to agree with you Caity. I had all of these plans and ideas for what it would be like to be a senior, I kind of just did my work and forgot to plan for college. The thought of, “Wow, maybe I should start applying,” didn’t really cross my mind until I became a senior. So I’d say think about those decisions as early as possible. They won’t be set in stone, but at least you’ll have some sort of idea. Oh, and I would tell her again to stop being such of a perfectionist. It was definitely a problem this year for me. I wish I hadn’t put myself through that, all for it to never turn out perfect anyway.

 

Question: How would you say that you have grown over the four years here?

SB: I like to think I’m better at working with people, like cooperating, teamwork, figuring out how to problem solve and work around things, compromising, which is obviously very important. I also allow myself to laugh more, I took myself pretty seriously. Now, I just think, “You know what? I make mistakes, and that’s part of life.” You’re going to make mistakes. That’s how it works. It’s just how you react and build from those mistakes that defines who you are… I’m not afraid to be who I am… and that’s fine.

AG: I’ve definitely been able to find more of my personality and my style. I’ve gotten a lot more confidence in everything I do. Freshman year, I was just so shy, and I think in a way we all were. But now, we’re getting ready for college and it all starts again.

CM: I have definitely learned time management. I’m not the best at it, but considering were I was freshman year, were I felt I had to get everything done. I’d get it done, but I didn’t really manage it. I did my work when it was convenient. I’ve definitely evolved in essence and I feel more independent. Freshman year, I feel like I had everything handed to me, but now we’re getting older, I know that I have to take care of myself now.

BB: For me, I’d say that I’ve definitely matured as a person. Not only do I understand the whole perfection thing, but I also understand that I am human and it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. I also find that I worry less about judging myself and focus on how I can help others, or make someone else’s day.

 

Question: How did you manage stress during your high school years?

AG: I’ve always been pretty good at managing stress by myself, but a lot of things helped like keeping lists, as dumb as it may sound, just keeping a list of everything that you need to do to make sure that you don’t forget anything. I know that whenever I forget something that’s what makes me stress out- it’s when I’m not remembering to do everything I need to do. So, write everything down, keep a calendar or planner or something, and it’ll help a lot.

CM: Doing sports was my outlet. It’s different for everyone. I just put it all into everything that I was doing. Sports were my extracurricular activities and I did not stop year-round. By doing that, it was a way for me to not think about school, because I had to think about my team, and it helped a lot.

SB: Everyone’s tolerance is different… You have to take some you time. You have to step away from the textbooks, because eventually, looking at something for too long, it’s only going to hurt you. It’s only going to make it worse. I mean, my other stress reliefs are theater and dance. Whenever I’m at the barre, and whenever I’m there at the studio, by myself, or I’m on the stage as someone else, I don’t have to be myself for two and a half hours. Everything kind of goes away and you are just there in the moment, and it’s almost very meditative in a sense.Take “you” time, and don’t let school become your everything. It’s obviously very important, but it’s the extracurricular and the other stuff that you do that makes you happier and healthier…it gives you social growth that you may not get from staring at a textbook every night for five hours.

BB: I did not always know how to manage stress, and now, I still want to have a small break down once in a while, but I’ve just been learning that stress is a part of life. With stress, or anything really, we have two options- we can let it overtake us, or we can try to overcome it. If I feel really stressed out, I literally stop what I’m doing, if I can, like not in class or anything, but I’ll listen to music or focus on breathing and I try to appreciate the little things.

 

Question: What would you consider to be your best memory from high school?

SB: I think, opening night of Pippin, because, even though I was on crutches and I was only in two scenes- the opening and the closing, and I had to be pulled around, they made it so that I didn’t feel like a burden while I couldn’t really walk. For opening night, the whole cast worked really hard to get there. It’s my favorite show that I’ve ever done, despite the fact that I wasn’t really in it. It was a good feeling because it was just a feeling of accomplishment throughout the whole cast, and just the energy  of opening night and the whole show was something I have never seen happen before at Susky…

Senior Brittany Boone shares details from her high school experience. Photo courtesy of Brittany Boone

BB:  My best memory is definitely my freshman homecoming. My sister, Destiny, was a senior at the time, and I would always say, “hi” to her when I had the chance around school throughout the school year. I probably embarrassed her, but we’d always come home and laugh about it. It was just a really cool experience to be at homecoming at the same time. She really helped me adjust to the new setting around me and high school in general. 

AG: I’d probably say homecoming because it was probably the most memorable night, especially since I went with my friends. They really made it fun, and just dancing with them was such a great time. I’ll always remember that.

CM: Maybe when the soccer team went to States. I got to be a part of that, and it was pretty awesome. It was very, very exciting. There was a lot of cheering, a lot of crying, and a lot of voices lost. It was a good time.

 

If you could choose one thing to redo, what would it be? Or would you redo anything at all?

SB: Just one? I don’t know. I guess it’d be thinking more positively. When I was a freshman, I thought, “Here we go again,” but I think when I started to think more positively and become happier, the whole world around me shifted. You put good out, you get good back. It’s a give and take thing, so if you’re just giving this negative energy, that’s all you’re going to get back. I think as soon as that changed, my outlook changed. If I had one do-over it’d be to be more positive sooner, and not wait until junior year.

AG: One thing that I thought when I was a freshman is that I thought dances were never my thing, so I never went to homecoming or anything until last year. I had such a good time at prom and the homecomings I went to, and I would tell myself not to skip out on the dances just because you think that they’re lame or you don’t think you’re a dance kind of person. You don’t want to miss out on that type of opportunity, especially when you go with friends, it can be really fun or you can have a good time, I would maybe redo that.

BB: I really don’t think that I would choose to redo anything. All of my failures, struggles, and mistakes have made me who I am now, just as much as my successes did. So, I don’t think I’d change a thing.
CM: If I could go back to change one thing, I’d do track all four years. I wish I had done it last year, and obviously I couldn’t do it this year. If I had had the opportunity, I would have.

 

Would you do all of high school over again,  if you had the chance?

BB: Maybe not, high school was very fun at times, but I would consider it the most emotionally, physically, and mentally draining thing that I’ve ever done. So, probably not. It was a good time, and still is. I just want to enjoy the rest of the little moments while I can.

SB: No, because I think every mistake that I made was a new lesson, a new learning opportunity to say, “Okay, I made a mistake, how do I move on from that?” Everyone’s going to make mistakes, so if I redid it, there would just be different mistakes I have to learn from. So I think it’s very much the mistakes I made, and the things I wish I’d done looking back are pushing me in the future to push myself and better the work I’m doing or better the life I want to live; the life I’m living now…

Senior Angel Gilbert discusses her high school years and how they have impacted her.

AG: As of right now, I would say yes because I don’t want to leave all of my friends behind when I go to college, but after I start college, I’d probably say no. By then, it’s done and over, and I’ll be looking forward to college. If you ask me now, I’d say I definitely don’t want to leave yet, but once I’m out, I probably wouldn’t say it again.  
CM: I would only redo high school if I had no memory of these years. I wouldn’t want to redo these four years; good or bad. If I did them all over again and still remember everything that happened, I feel like I’d be repeating a lot of stuff and classes. Yeah, I’d have a better chance to do better in those classes, but I’d have to learn the information again. So, no thank you for this one.

 

Question: Are there any other pieces of advice you would like to add?

AG: One thing I told myself a lot was that when you get a lot older, you’re not going to be able to do as many things as you would be able to right now, because you’re young and healthy.  So, don’t waste your time stressing about anything like schoolwork or college. When you get older, you might look back and say “Why was I worrying about that?”

BB: Be genuine; it’s alright not be alright sometimes. Love others, and don’t wait to show kindness. Do it often, actually. If there’s anything I took away from my high school experience it’s that it really pays to go the extra mile for others. I feel that I’ve always tried to do this, but I truly grasped that concept this year. Why spend all 24 hours on yourself every single day? It’s never wasted time to be kind to someone.

CM: Don’t try to micromanage everything, don’t try to plan everything out. Unexpected things are going to happen. Just try to enjoy your time. If you stress yourself out too much, how are you going to enjoy it?

SB: Just be nice. Be nice to people, I mean, you have no idea what they’re going through, what their life is like or how their day has been… but just their one day, something could have happened. You know, just a smile in the hallway, helping someone with something, or just saying hey I like your skirt today or your shoes look awesome, it can brighten someone’s day. Thanks to those people, I smile a lot more because they definitely change your outlook on life or even just make that one day awesome because of that one compliment or smile.

 

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Four Seniors Take a Look Back Before Graduation