A Senior's Farewell
by Brianna Suslovic
Photo courtesy of Brianna Suslovic
As my high school career comes to a close, I’ve got some advice for the underclassmen I know. There have been so many good times, but I’m ready to impart the wisdom that I’ve gained in the hallowed halls of Jamesville-DeWitt High School.
1.High school never ends.
Take a minute right now and listen to “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup. Check out the lyrics, especially the ones at the end: “And I still don't have the right look, and I still have the same three friends, and I'm pretty much the same as I was back then.”
Bowling for Soup is right. High school is like a practice run before you hit the real world. Make your mistakes here, but don’t make stupid mistakes. Learn from the little slip-ups. Hone your skills before someone can fire you for not having them. While you might not stay friends with everyone you’ve met in high school, just remember that in the future, you’ll meet a lot of people who are eerily reminiscent of the people from your high school years. Your future boss might be the computer nerd. Your future friends might have been on the lacrosse team in high school, just like you. You’ll learn that some of your closest high school friends will stick with you for the rest of your life, but you’ll also learn that high school is great practice for future human interaction. I didn’t intend to sound so scientific there, but I’m trying to explain that high school might be where your first relationship and your first breakup happen, or where you learn how to deal with a bully and a clique. High school is where you form the habits that you’ll need for the rest of your life: a work ethic, time management skills, interpersonal skills, and relationship experience. Make the most out of every high school experience - sometimes the time goes too fast , but that doesn’t mean the memories won’t last.
2. Find at least one teacher or counselor that you can always go to with questions and concerns.
For me, this was mostly Will Hartley, Student Assistance Counselor here. His office is one of the coolest places in the school, at the far end of the Counseling Center. Inside, you’ll find a stash of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies (better known as OCPs), an inflatable moose head, and one of the most comfortable couches in the world. As an underclassman, I was hesitant to see Mr. Hartley because I didn’t want to ask anyone for help. As I’ve gone in to see him more and more over the years, I’ve learned that Mr. Hartley offers a ton of wonderful advice and funny stories, but most importantly, he’s a great listener. Whether you choose Mr. Hartley or another adult, learn to open up to an adult at J-DHS that you can trust. Trust me - you’ll be thankful for this person sooner or later.
3. Get involved, but more importantly, honor your commitments!
One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a lack of commitment from others. During my time at J-DHS, I’ve gotten involved in numerous clubs, started my own club, and worked hard as an officer in a few of them. I’ve also seen what a lack of commitment from members and officers can do to a club. If you choose to get involved in a club (which you should), remember that you’ve made a commitment to the group and the people in it. This means that you need to respect others’ time and energy by attending meetings, notifying officers of your scheduling conflicts ahead of time, and volunteering for club events like parties and fundraisers. If you are using a club or student group on your activity sheet for college, be sure that you can back up your involvement with actual evidence of what you’ve contributed. I’ve seen far too many student use clubs simply to make themselves look better for colleges. Trust me - colleges can see through this. Unless you can prove that you’ve done work and invested time in a club, it’s not worth being a part of it. Just think about it - in the real world or on the job, if you say that you’re going to do something or be a part of something, your manager expects you to follow through. In high school, your club president is your manager. Do your job well, or lose it.
4. Don’t stop reading. Ever.
While many students expect to do a lot of exam preparation for the SAT and ACT, an easy way to keep your brain ready is through reading. Most high school-level and adult-level reading has vocabulary that is useful to know on these tests. In addition, reading at a mature level will expose you to well-written and grammatically correct sentences. Make time to read on your own, and it will pay off. Read over the summer, and get ahead of classmates who forget their spelling, grammar and punctuation over those two months. Pick up a newsmagazine or a newspaper to keep yourself up to date on current events, or find an interesting novel or nonfiction read. This is a direct investment in your brainpower that will pay off in your test scores. It’ll also save you some money - I’m an avid reader, and I didn’t pay for exam prep books or courses. I still scored above the 90th percentile on the SAT and ACT. It’s no surprise that English, reading and writing were my best test areas.
5. Discover your passion, and pursue it.
As cheesy as this sounds, learn to explore different activities and interests until you find the one that makes you happiest. Whether it’s running or riding horses or writing poetry or reading sci-fi, discover your passion as soon as you can. Try out a variety of different activities as the opportunities present themselves, and sooner or later, you’ll find at least one that you love. For me, these passions were music and writing. I wrote my college essay about these two passions, in fact. After discovering that I loved both activities, I got involved in performance groups, school publications, and other outside activities to fulfill my desire to practice music and writing. Colleges love to see that you’ve found at least one thing you love to do. And who knows - the passion you find might become a lifelong love.
Well, that’s it... my advice to everyone returning to J-DHS in the fall. Graduation is less than a month away - how surreal. I can hardly believe that high school is over. It’s been a crazy ride, for sure. As a student, I’ve learned how to handle an AP course load, how to ask teachers for help, how to not procrastinate (kind of), and how to be as successful as possible in my classes. As a leader, I’ve learned who I can depend on, how to direct others, and how to manage a magazine, a newspaper, a field trip, and several fundraisers. As a friend, I’ve learned how important classmates can be, and just how much work has to go into some relationships. I’ve learned a lot in these halls and classrooms, and after four years of high school at J-DHS, I feel more than prepared to face the future.