Photograph provided by Elizabeth Shields.
High school. The term has multiple meanings with both negative and positive connotations. As the high school careers of the senior class of 2020 come to an abrupt ending due to the global pandemic, they have taken the time to reflect on the last four years of their lives. Students said they have learned valuable nonacademic lessons from high school.
Senior Margaret Panasci described high school as “a lot of stress,” claiming that it had the added weight of trying to find a college that had everything she was looking for. “But everyone is stressed together, so it’s a bonding experience,” she said.
“High school taught me that procrastination is a super power. The most productive moments of my life occurred at 3 a.m.,” Panasci said. She plans on continuing to use her super power moving forward in her life.
Senior Jake DePaoli described high school as a time spent growing up and finding out who he is as a person. “It’s where we really start gaining responsibilities as students and young adults,” he said.
DePaoli said he had both negative and positive experiences throughout high school, but he enjoyed it because he learned so much about himself. “From a nonacademic standpoint, I learned a lot about who I was and how I was growing as a person. Slowly getting ready for the ‘real world’ can be scary, and I feel like high school is the first step in that transition.”
DePaoli also said that he would go back and relive the last four years, and he wishes that he cherished high school more in the moment.“I would do it 100 times more if I could. It was an amazing experience that went by too fast.”
“High school reminds me of all the great friends and teachers I have been with. I will always think about the stressful nights, but overall it reminds me of how fun everything was,” senior Matthew Baylous said. As a member of sports and clubs, Baylous said he has enjoyed high school since the beginning of freshman year because of the opportunities he had to talk with “so many great people and teachers.”
“I am very proud to say I’ve learned a lot of life lessons,” Baylous said. He said high school gave him the chance to make new friends, and throughout the years he became more comfortable with his surroundings and learned to branch out. He also said he learned to use sports–such as golf after school with his friends–as an outlet for his stress.
“It’s like a small family,” Baylous said. He felt lucky to be a member of a small school. “Everyone knows each other, and you’re never alone in the hallways.”
Senior Elizabeth Shields described high school as “the one thing that will fly at the speed of light and no one expects it to.” For her, high school meant four years of experience, and
it had its ups and downs. “I learned that friendships come and go, things are unfair and you learn how people will act when they want or need something. It is not something you get taught in the classroom, but something you learn through experiences.” In addition, Shields said high school taught her how to cope with loss and grief, another lesson that students do not learn in a classroom.
Senior Nicolette Tingo connects the term ‘growth’ with high school. “I think everyone develops a lot, and that is one of the most important parts of it,” Tingo said
“I learned how to handle conflicts and how to have different ideas than other people,” Tingo said. She plans on applying these life lessons in her future.
“To me, high school means the last four years of being able to be a kid, and that after high school, we step into the real world, reality,” senior Gavin Melandro said. He said that overall, he loved his time in high school. “Between making lifelong friends and being able to be my true self, I believe that high shaped me into the person I will be in life,” he said.
“Academics aside, high school has taught me many lifelong lessons.” Melandro said he learned how to make loyal friends and who to trust. He plans to apply crucial lessons learned from experiences and situations to his future. “They’re the most important real-life lessons a teenager can learn.”
“If I could, I would do it a thousand times over. High school was the best. I am really going to miss it,” Melandro said.