senior year

End of the Year Gathering: The Finale

It’s Erica, your new high school graduate.

My cap slowly slid off my head with each round of applause as each person stood up to receive their diplomas. By the time I got up, it was clinging onto my head with its last elastic breaths, and I tore it off as soon as I stepped off the stage.

I’m thankful that alphabetical order allowed me to sit between Levi and Aidan—they told me I wasn’t going to die when I needed to hear it most and even kept copies of  my speech just in case I passed out on the way to the podium. During my speech my eyes kept flitting around the audience, looking for Allison somewhere in the pews, but I couldn’t locate her frazzled head anywhere.

(neither Levi nor Aidan)

(neither Levi nor Aidan)

I couldn’t believe that was it. This was the event we had all been waiting for, to solidify the end of high school. The caps and the gowns, the sea of family and friends, this was all it. Pomp and Circumstance sounded ten times better when we were marching to its tune down the aisles.

But those two hours were just as fleeting as the rest of that long-awaited week. For a week we were removed into our lives and placed in Lancaster to make the Eden our home. For one last week we rotated between swinging on the playground and sitting in the lobby and eating at Garfield’s. We went out to movies, to dinner, to the park, and to coffee, spending our nights and days pretending, as we always have, to be normal friends.

In the matching t-shirts

And the days in Philadelphia.

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The 3am breakfasts

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And the 1940s swing dancing.

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Even in sitting on the grass

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Or sitting in the car.

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This was VPSA. This was the best part and the worst part about going to Veritas, the best part and worst part of such a physically distant yet painfully personal high school community.

And for one last time, the Gathering ended with eating Subway at the park and making a flurry of goodbyes. They were more heartfelt this time, as we went around not knowing which goodbyes were merely a “see you later” and which were actually permanent. But a couple days later, here we are now, no longer shoulder to shoulder but mile to mile and state to state and ocean to ocean, awaiting the future in which some of our paths will converge again.

While I was always somewhat annoyed that I never went to a ‘real’ high school, that I could never easily explain to people what school or what kind of school I went to, I’m still proud and grateful to have graduated from VPSA. Despite the odds, despite the harrowing distance, despite the unorthodox method of education, we made it to the EOTYG one last time and graduated together.

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I’m a little biased, but VPSA, the class of 2016 was the best class you will ever have.

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Senioritis

BY ERICA

I’m fading, and I’m fading fast.

I’m three out of four years, seven out of eight semesters, and 117 out of 128 weeks done with high school.

I remember when the countdown to graduation first began. The class of 2015 had just graduated, we were the new seniors on the block, and everything seemed promising. Saying “we’re graduating in 364 days!” seemed amusing to us because it seemed so far away; not real enough to really care, but close enough to hope. Now, here we are, filling out graduation forms, registering for graduation, sending in yearbook pictures and choosing senior quotes, and the prospect of graduating seems so real.

Yet oddly still so far.

It’s the oxymoronic phrase that has long been the bane of my existence: “so close, yet so far”. It seems unfair, high school’s last big prank on us students—getting us so close to taste the end, but still leaving us so far that we have to work for it.

The temptation now is to just give up. It’s not necessarily a full and total giving up, since we’ve come much too far to let our GPAs tank and our high school careers to plummet. It’s more of a “stop trying” kind of attitude, where in a world without repercussions we’d skip class and sleep all day and go to Starbucks every four hours and do all the things and have all the fun adventures we’ve always wanted to do in the last six months before we leave home.

The effects of this second-semester slump are becoming strikingly evident in everything. It’s evident in the sheer amount of passive aggressive smiley faces sent and received on a daily basis between seniors, in the number of times they complain about how they can’t wait to graduate, how they aren’t in the mood to deal with homework, and how they laid down for a 20-minute nap and instead slept for five hours.

This spectrum of senioritis, from the complete and utter not caring about high school to the “still does homework on time but without happiness and enthusiasm” is evident in nearly the entire grade, even in those good students with perfect GPAs and perfect participation grades who do their homework three days before they’re due.

After three years of college prep, after seven semesters of keeping pristine high school track records, after 117 weeks of preparing for and taking numerous standardized tests, the desire to stop trying is overwhelming. But it must be resisted.

I’m on my third time-management/homework system in the past four months. My life somehow is more structured and less stressful than ever, but it seems to take more willpower to get things done. Homework gets finished, but with less enthusiasm and less interest than it ever has. Going to class is more of a necessary evil to finish the semester with good grades than actually for the joy and purpose of learning new material.

I’m glad my weeks have become habitual. Going to bed, waking up, class, work, homework, and karate have all become so repetitive that I can go through my week without a second thought. Monday becomes Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then the process repeats again.

In ninety-six days we will be standing, shoulder to shoulder, in our blue caps and gowns, saying things like “I’m going to miss you all so much” and “I can’t believe we made it” and whatever other cliché yet admittedly heartfelt phrases are usually said at graduations. In ninety-six days it will be over and we will be talking about where we’re going off to college and how much we’re going to keep in touch and all of the other things normally said at the end of this phase in life. And in ninety-six days, this whole motivational slump will be over.

But we still have eleven weeks of school to go.

It’s Officially (Almost) Over

Allison, your local AAA member.

It’s (almost) the second semester of senior year which means my high school experience is (almost) over, and I’m (nearly) ready to cruise through the last few weeks of school. I’m (almost) about to go to college across the country. I’m (almost) sure what university I’ll be attending, and I’m (almost) ready to just pack my things and ship out now. I’m excited for new classes, new professors, and a new life. I’ll be living away from home, making different friends, and actually growing up. It’s something I’ve been preparing for since my freshman year and it’s suddenly (about to be) a reality. It seems like I’ve always had to get the best grades and perfectly balance my extracurriculars with academics to ensure the greatest transcript coupled with the best resume. It hasn’t been easy, but suddenly the pay-off is (about to be) worth it.

The pressure of college applications, college acceptances, and high school transcripts has been (almost) entirely lifted from my shoulders. This is the first time in nearly six years I haven’t felt the constant need to keep up my performance. I can let my grades slip and it (probably) won’t haunt me. I can miss a homework and I’ll (probably) wake up the next morning.

Every decision I flub doesn’t feel intrinsically connected to my future. Every mistake I make won’t have lasting repercussions in my academic career.

This has given me incredible freedom.

I spent the past few hours planning out the amazing things I’ll (hopefully) be doing between now and August. I’ll (probably) be going to Italy for a few weeks. Erica (might) be visiting New York for Spring Break. I’ll (most likely) attend Veritas’ End of the Year Gathering and meet all the amazing people who were in my classes this year and I’ll reconnect with everyone I met last year. I have senior prom, graduation, and my 18th birthday.

Seeing the next few months mapped out in terms of special events was cathartic. The calendar, devoid of homework assignments and project due dates, was a reminder that my entire life doesn’t need to be a stepping stone to the next best thing. I have the upcoming sixth months of my existence to spend with friends, making memories, learning more, and reading great books.

I’m eager to move on to college, to the next big plan, to the next resume-building transcript-perfecting activity, and I’m (almost) ready, I’m (nearly) ready, just not quite yet.

Perspective on Senior Year

By Allison.

How do seniors have time to lead rational lives? I’ve had too much homework, too many essays, and too few hours of sleep since school started. I have three jobs and three bosses who don’t seem to understand my life doesn’t revolve around their scheduling needs. I have six classes, all of which seem to think answering every single question in their respective textbooks is a reasonable amount of homework. I’m applying to seven colleges who think demanding three essays for their university alone is manageable amount of writing to require.

Do people who accomplish all of this actually sleep, or eat, or sometimes hang out with friends? I’m three hundred pages behind in reading because I spent an afternoon with my mom instead of finishing a novel. I’m falling behind in my homework because I’m posting this instead of doing physics problems.

I spend most nights trying to figure out how much I need to do before I pass out from exhaustion, because there’s always more to do. I could make a list, but I would spend time writing the actual list that could be better used to actually finish one of those assignments.

It’s irrational. I’m losing sleep and I cry every few days. I keep fighting with my mom because I’m stressed. I’ve lost touch with some friends because I keep forgetting to text them.

But I’m also learning more than I ever have. I wake up knowing I’ll learn more, knowing I’ll do something I’ve never previously done. Each day of work I pick up new skills, and each class teaches me something different. My faith has grown; how could it not, when I know I cannot humanely accomplish all that’s before me?

So, yeah, it’s stressful, I’m tired, and I’m only a few weeks into a months long journey.

And maybe I’m crazy, but I love it.