By: Maggie Devaney
In the summer of 2017, you might have been able to find me in my bedroom watching “How to Prepare for Your First Year of High School” videos on YouTube. At that time, nothing was more terrifying than the uncertainty of my own future. Before entering high school, I had a lot to discover about myself, both personally and academically. Now that I am a few weeks away from graduation, I am able to acknowledge the crucial life changes that high school has contributed to, and the ways my experiences at JCHS have shaped me as a person.
My freshman year is interesting to look back on, especially when I recall the anxiety I felt when I first came through the doors of JCHS. I was very lucky to have a solid group of friends that I made in middle school, who are still my closest friends to this day, to experience this change with. The hardest part of entering high school was becoming acquainted with the building and the rigor of the various courses. It took me a while to get used to filling out the lengthy reading guides that accompanied novels in my English class and the concept of solving quadratic equations in my Algebra I class. Initially, it was a challenge to locate my classes and to know where I had to be at what time, but this struggle subsided after a month or two. However, despite the difficulty of the adjustments associated with entering high school, I have many enjoyable memories from my freshman year. The most prominent of those memories is my first pep rally, which showed me the spirit and enthusiasm that lies within the walls of JCHS.
My sophomore year was when I started to get comfortable with being a high school student, and I was able to comfortably walk the halls of JCHS. I began to challenge myself more, and decided to take an honors English class. I took some incredibly fun electives like digital photography and basic foods which allowed me to express my creativity and my love for cooking. I became even more well acquainted with my friends and spent a lot of my free time with them outside of school. The most challenging part of this year was adjusting to taking a more difficult science class, which in my case was chemistry. My freshman year biology class was simpler for me, because I am interested in life science, so adjusting to a more math-oriented class was a bit difficult for me. The most memorable experience of my sophomore year was getting to participate in trivia night with my friends and getting to share so many laughs with them and the other teams.
My junior year was the hardest year of high school, but for good reason. I decided to take two AP classes in order to challenge myself for my third year. Although this was difficult, it was a good experience for me to have in preparation for college. I also took personal finance as an elective, which will likely be useful in my future. The most difficult part of junior year, however, was adjusting to learning at home. The pandemic began in the spring, and students had to take a few books and leave school, expecting to come back after 2 weeks. Instead, classes were held online for the rest of the year and the beginning of the next. It was a big adjustment for me to stay home and not have as much of a social life during the pandemic. The rest of the school year was difficult, but I’m also grateful for this experience because it opened my eyes to the importance of the people I connected with in my first three years of high school. My favorite part of my junior year was attending college visits and getting the first glimpse into my future, as well as getting to spend time with my friends pre-pandemic.
My senior year has been filled with incredible memories, but has also not been easy. I opted to stick with remote learning for the majority of the year, mostly because I had gotten used to it and had started to enjoy being able to more or less work at my own pace. I was still able to get the most out of my classes given the circumstances, and was able to take classes like human behavior and sociology that pertain to my interests and future career plans. I committed to my dream college, Clark University, and started to actively plan for the next few years of my life after high school. Despite my progress, I found this year to be difficult because I felt very unmotivated and struggled to keep up more than usual. I never believed “senioritis” was a real thing until I started to actually experience it. Senior year was a transformative experience because I felt more independent and began to acknowledge my future and the ways high school has helped me figure out my plans. My favorite senior year memories were going on hikes with my friends and writing different types of poetry in my AP Literature class.
After four years, it is safe for me to say that high school has been a transformative experience in my life that has helped me discover myself academically and personally. It has allowed me to explore my passions and figure out what I want in my future. I have made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime, taken memorable classes, and interacted with many amazing people. I want to extend my thanks to my teachers, who have graciously shared their wisdom with me, my marvelous friends (I couldn’t have done it without you!), and the JCHS community for welcoming me and creating a place for me to learn. Congratulations to my fellow seniors and all the luck to you in your future endeavors.