With daily sights on campus of a buzzing Senior Green, thoughtful class discussions, and cheering fans on the turf, it’s safe to say that the 2023-2024 school year is underway. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the end of September. This means that I will be graduating with the rest of the class of 2024 in eight months.
As I find myself chatting with friends during a free period on the Senior Green, I can’t help but picture myself in the same spot walking across the stage receiving my diploma later this year— a moment we’ve all thought about since we began our time at KO. I still remember the first timid steps I took walking into the Middle School when I transferred here in eighth grade. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, entering a new place knowing almost no one.
Now, in just a short time, I have reached the culmination where I will finally get to experience the countless traditions that I have watched so many before me take part in: senior prom, 100 day breakfast, Class Night, and, most importantly, Commencement. Faced with the daily drag of endless college essays and Common App misery, I remind myself of the excitement the year ahead brings.
As I work on my college applications, I am often asked questions like “What kind of difference will you make on our campus” or “What do you want to study and why?” Reflecting on these loaded questions about my future can, at times, make it hard to remember that I still have one year left on this campus.
Instead of complaining about the college application process (which I certainly could do but would probably bore all of you), I want this to serve as a reminder to live in the present moment. In just one month, my peers and I have quickly experienced multiple “lasts”– last first day of school, last convocation, and last first field hockey game, to name a few. As I look ahead, I am certain there will be many more of these to come, and each will bring a new feeling of bittersweetness and serve as a reminder of the memories and bonds we have created in our time here.
While senior year is certainly the start of new beginnings, it’s equally a time of many endings, and they have only just begun. To my peers, on days when it feels like supplemental essays are never-ending, let it serve as a reminder that we will never get these years of our lives back. I’m sure we all have heard that senior year is supposed to be the best one yet. It’s not worth it to spend our last year of high school stressing about what’s out of our control. Surely, it’s important to be conscious of your future and have meaningful aspirations, but putting pressure on yourself to appear superhuman for a system that has become impersonal and extremely competitive is not worth your time. Even worse, don’t let this process tear holes in the relationships you have built because you feel a sense of competition. Allow yourself to take in this last chapter of your time at KO by being your authentic self.
This isn’t just a lesson for seniors; to the underclassmen, your time here will fly by, so you should spend it doing what you love.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once, especially as a freshman.It’s okay if you need time to adjust to a new environment and surroundings. I certainly fell victim to the trap of signing up for every club imaginable when I was a freshman, and I can confidently say it’s much more rewarding to do things you actually enjoy than what you think you should be doing.
Don’t spend your time wrapped up in the small things. Truly, one test or one essay won’t define your high school career, and you shouldn’t treat it that way.
You will be faced with countless more assessments and assignments, but what you learn about yourself along the way will be what matters most.
Finally, my greatest advice is to surround yourself with people who make you happy.
What you will remember about KO is not the grade you received on your first APUSH test or that essay you wrote for Global Cities; you will remember the people and the memories you made together. In my four years, I have been fortunate to find a wide support system of teachers, coaches, advisors, and friends.
When I think about leaving KO, I know that this is what I will miss the most. So, no matter how many years you have left here, whether it’s one or four, be grateful for those around you and the time you are able to spend together.
As we look ahead to this new year, I hope you can all find time to live in the present and take in every moment!