Senior Year


Wildcat Photo

Kindergarten v. Senior Year

Erin Pickert, Feature Editor

When I was a kid, I had a room with a big whiteboard where I spent all of my time teaching what I had learned at school that day to my American Girl Dolls. I went as far as to give them grades and “meet with them after class” when they were struggling. I took unused worksheets from the recycle bins of Starside Elementary teacher’s lounge to give to my dolls, which I would fill out myself and then pretend my dolls had done them.

While it is particularly embarrassing to admit 12 years later who I was as a young girl, I had a love for my classroom, learning new things and, admittedly, I was quite the teacher’s pet. 

However, we all go through the harshness of middle school and are forced to grow up when we don’t feel ready. In my time since teaching my American Girls Dolls, I have truly changed as a person. I was scared to grow up, but looking at the “cool” high schoolers, I was so ready to become them. I wanted a high school experience like High School Musical, but without the random dance breaks, of course. I was ready to feel mature and like I could take on the world. As a shy and timid girl, I wanted all the confidence of a high schooler.

Eventually though, I did become a high schooler, and those four years flew by without even a blink. It seemed rather unfair that what I had been dreaming of so long had vanished without my realizing. I look back now laughing that it was truly nothing like what I would have previously hoped for. Nothing at all. I did not enter high school as the confident person I had hoped to be. 

Rather, high school has helped me transform myself into that person which I am still becoming. Previously, I had looked back on my high school experience with too many regrets to count and a memory full of embarrassing moments. Today, I still feel like a young girl unprepared to take on the adult world. It was frustrating that my experience wasn’t all the glamour that I had hoped it would be when I was teaching my American Girl Dolls and dreaming of the day when I could graduate from De Soto High School and confidently pursue my passion for teaching. Watching Troy Bolton, Gabriella Montez and the rest of the High School Musical 3: Senior Year characters sing “We’re All In This Together,” excited me an embarrassing amount for a 10 year old.

Yet, this year I received the news that I would not be returning for the final two months of my public school career. I would not enjoy the last period of time with the classmates I had grown up with. I was confused. Those were the months that I was supposed to be soaking in. The first part of senior year was for finishing all the hard work. Those last couple months were supposed to be when I had fun and realized how much I enjoyed being at DHS. It seemed like a cruel joke. You’re telling me I might not get those last goodbyes? I might not get to walk across that graduation stage? I may never see some of these people whom I’ve known since I was 5 years old again?

Since then, however, I have come to the realization that all of my previous regrets for who I was and what I had done in high school are no longer existent. I only have one: waiting until the end to soak it all in. I had waited, and then it was taken away without giving me time to blink. All those days when I was at the school by 7 a.m. and didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. had seemed like a complete nightmare. Yet now, I would do anything for just one last long day. The young girl that I was has resurfaced and is distraught at the fact that I can’t go back. DHS had become my second home and like a little kid, I just wanted to cry and pout about it.

Since this, I have had a few weeks to reflect on this disruption. Yes, I am disappointed. But, my anger has since dissipated. I will walk away from high school, whether or not it’s across a stage, and into what the rest of what my life has to offer. That has not changed. I will still have the opportunity to earn a college degree and accomplish the things which I have dreamed of doing — whether that is through a computer or not. I am now filled with excitement again, with only a little bit of regret.

So to those looking forward to their graduation day, don’t wait until then to soak it all up. Don’t wait until you are handed your diploma to thank everyone who helped you get there. Don’t wait until your last goodbye to tell your friends how much you love them. Please do not wait until your last day of class to thank your teachers. They do more for us than we will ever truly know. Don’t even wait for your senior year to be thankful for the experiences you are going through. It is undeniably hard to be thankful for the embarrassing or hard moments which you hope to never remember, but know that you are slowly becoming the person you want to be — it’s just not easy. 

For the girl who had run her own classroom since the age of 4, graduating high school from her living room couch is a particularly sad idea. Yet, it has called me back to those times and my appreciation for what I had in high school is perhaps greater than what it would have been otherwise. And for that, I’m thankful. I was put into a situation which has made me more thankful and appreciative for everyone and everything which I had growing up. So no matter how cheesy of advice this is, please do not wait. Say thank you. Make the most of your experience. Every day of high school is not fun — I can fully and completely admit to that — but please do not forget how much of a gift it is to see your friends and the unbelievable support system you have every day. Even if high school isn’t what you had always hoped and dreamed it would be, please soak it all in now.