TASD Senior Perspective 2022

Some say high school was the best four years of their lives, and in a way, it was for me, too. Being the youngest of three siblings, I believed I had all the insight needed to begin my high school journey. I watched my brother and sister navigate their way through Arkansas High School. However, my high school experience was quite different. As a matter of fact, it presented a lot of challenges, and I was met with some of the most difficult yet most interesting years I have ever had.

Actor/Comedian Steve Martin once said, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you,” and that is what I told myself as I began my freshman year. The transition of going from junior high to high school was a scary experience. High school seemed so intimidating from what I saw in the movies. The typical jocks and popular girls portrayed on TV were what I thought high school was going to be like. However, once I walked through the doors of Arkansas High, I could immediately see that wasn’t the case. 

I was a bit relieved, but part of me was still anxious and excited. Beginning my freshman year felt like a nice fresh start to my educational journey, but all the unfamiliar faces and upperclassmen just seemed so intimidating to me. Even the size of the school was frightening. I am not normally the shy type, but I found myself a bit too nervous to make new friends in my uncharted environment. As time passed, I realized I was not on an island, and other classmates were trying to find their way as well. As time went on, I relaxed and began to embrace my new normal.

I started my sophomore year feeling confident, comfortable, and eager to see my friends. I didn’t feel like the upperclassmen’s eyes were always on me anymore. I stopped worrying about what others were thinking of me because the realization that none of that would matter later in life started to kick in. Of course, a small part of me still wanted to impress those around me, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as my freshman year. I started paying more attention to myself, and as a result, I tapped into my passion for volunteering and helping others. 

I joined the Nike and Interact clubs during my sophomore year. Both clubs provided opportunities for me to volunteer for different events and fundraisers at school and in the community. It also afforded me the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. With all the concern and worry I experienced during my freshman year far behind me, I could focus on my grades and my future. Things were going great.

I rarely watch television, and the nightly news is not on my list of things to watch when I finally decide to turn it on. However, talk about a virus that was killing people in other countries, and cases being reported in the United States, was a trending topic among my family members, friends, and on social media sites. Things took a drastic turn during my sophomore year. COVID-19 greatly impacted our nation and community, and the Governor of Arkansas announced all schools had to shut down and transition to online instruction. 

Not only did school shut down, but we had to quarantine in our house. Life as I knew it changed, and I had no reference to prepare me for what was ahead… School—canceled, Spring Break plans—canceled, hanging out with friends—canceled. COVID-19 disrupted our lives without warning. The virus even invaded our house, and it was during this time that I saw strength and resilience in my immediate circle. I quickly realized I needed to embrace my current reality and do whatever it took to continue to be successful. My sophomore year ended with me completing my coursework virtually and chatting with my friends through social media.

My junior year was the strangest school year I’ve had in my life. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, students had the choice to go to school face-to-face, hybrid, or attend school virtually. Being isolated from people through the summer had taken a toll on me. However, once I heard the options, I knew instantly I wanted to be a virtual student because the idea of catching COVID-19 was terrifying. Staying home felt like the safest option. 

At first, I struggled because virtual learning is very different compared to going to school face-to-face. Without a teacher to talk me through the lessons, I struggled to get in the swing of things, but within a few weeks, I finally got the hang of it. However, I missed seeing my friends and had limited contact with others outside of my home except through family Zoom calls. As time went on, it seemed like the pandemic would never end, and having limited interaction with others was going to be my new normal. Life was different, and I knew the pandemic was going to make the history books. A global pandemic is something I never thought I would experience firsthand. However, virtual learning helped me become an individual learner, which is a skill that will really help me when I go to college.

Finally, we made it to my senior year! I stuffed my backpack with masks and hand sanitizer and returned to face-to-face instruction. I began my senior year expecting the time to go incredibly slow since I was so excited to graduate. Surprisingly, it went by very quickly. I was determined to have the best senior experience possible, and I can say without reservation that my senior year was one of the best school years I’ve ever had, for many reasons. I accomplished so much: I was the saxophone section leader in the band; I got accepted to the National Honor Society; I became involved in more clubs, like student council; I traveled for various performances and events; I created strong friendships with several people; and my grades were higher than they have ever been—I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I often reflect on my high school experience, and I see how much I have grown and changed over the years. I am proud of the person I have become. I went from looking up to older students as role models to becoming a role model myself.

The past four years of high school have been an interesting experience. These years have allowed me to grow academically and as a person overall. The experience also allowed me to face some of life’s hardest challenges and learn from them. I am so thankful for my parents and all the people I have met along the way, such as teachers, students, nurses, and principals. I would like to thank all of them for making high school such a great adventure!


 

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