My Senior Year

Erika Carlson, Features Reporter

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Like so many political pundits, I guess I couldn’t predict what would happen this year. After all, Donald Trump is our president, something very few could’ve predicted back in August, when I started my senior year.

As a country, we have waded into unexpected waters, not unlike the start of my swim season.

When I dressed to jump into the pool, I found myself surrounded by an entirely new team, one of only two people who’ve been here since freshman year.

Everything changed since 2013: the coach, the team around me and my desire to be there. Even the pool was under construction.

Still, there were those promises I made to myself.

I vowed to get straight A’s before I left Weston Ranch. And I told myself I would play four years in a sport.

Each time I exited the pool, it became more difficult to rinse off the senioritis that began to cloak my body.

My senior year, has been a collage of small disappointments and smaller victories.

Just like in the pool, as an Advanced Placement student, I like to compete. I take pride in my work.

At the same time, there is another side of me and possibly you too. I’m also that person that “gets by.” Sounds funny to describe a person who’s taken rigorous courses, but it’s true. Sometimes it takes work to pass a class, any class, especially when you try to cram so much into the small space of these final 10 months: Varsity tennis, AP Calculus, Government/Economics, Creative Writing, an internship for a state assembly candidate and scholarship applications.

It’s disappointing to be a not-so-smart AP student. It’s irritating to rank 100-and-something in your class.

It’s frustrating to hear about those graduation golden stamps, golden tassels and golden honor chords and to see your classmates get accepted into their dream University of California schools when you didn’t get into your dream California State University.

You begin to realize that all that time you’ve – that I’ve – spent completing assignments and presentations and studying, just wasn’t enough. After these four years, I began to understand the quote, “Some people create their own storms and then get mad when it rains.” This year, it rained so much that the San Joaquin River flooded and California is no longer in a drought. Who knew that a violent car crash could subside that storm?      

I agreed to be part of our school’s production of Every 15 Minutes (E-15) program designed to warn seniors against the dangers of drunk driving. E-15 brought unexpected personal closure. I learned so much from my peers. I learned so much about myself.

It’s amazing and somewhat frightening how well we can put on a brave face at school. There’s so much happening behind the scenes of our lives. E-15 was emotionally draining, yet a source of relief. Everyone who participated in this event that faithfully recreated a fake violent car crash took the event seriously and showed the courage to be vulnerable in public. 

During E-15, I promised to make my family proud by not making senseless decisions that could end my life. I hope everyone will remember the people we met, recall the stories we heard and honor the promises that they made to loved ones too.

For some who had almost lost a family member to suicide, seeing and thinking so much about death, struck me hard. It forced me to listen.

I wanted to hear how people have been impacted from loved ones who died and to see first-hand how it changed their lives.

I can never forget that day my family received a phone call to rush to the hospital.

After E-15, I couldn’t shake the feeling of grief that washed over me, for almost a week. I never cried so much. I didn’t think it was going to touch me as much as it did. It reopened a door to a bad memory I tried to keep shut. This was the therapy I didn’t know I needed.

Now, looking back upon this senior year, this frightening experience strengthened me.

In all fairness to myself, I’ve had more victories than I first thought. I’m excited to move on beyond Weston Ranch to begin at CSU Fresno, where I plan to major in Journalism, and eventually enter publishing to edit novels. That would be a victory.

There are thousands of more victories to come. They are waiting for me and for all of us after we walk across that graduation stage.

I want my dreams to come true.

And Class of 2017, may all of our dreams also come true.

 

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