A Senior’s Reflection on High School

My mom keeps saying, “Hasn’t it gone so fast? Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that you were graduating 8th grade?”
“No, mom, it doesn’t.”
While I understand what she means, I also understand why it would seem like that to her, watching me leave every morning and come home, sometimes not until 7pm, and hearing the four or five anecdotes I have to share about my day.
In truth though, these past four years have been quite long and absolutely full of things — good things, bad things, unavoidable things.
For one thing, I absolutely overloaded myself with classes and an endless list of extracurricular activities, which I would recommend to every person with some extra time wanting to make the most of these precious high school years (although this is only one of many ways to do so). These experiences are what got me really involved in the Dice community, what showed me how much I am truly capable of. If I hadn’t gone to that first band practice the summer before freshman year on a whim, I never would have learned five instruments in four years, or joined the Cabaret, and then the Musical, and then gotten a part in a musical that never happened and spent way too many nights behind the Allderdice stage, vaguely euphoric and starving and worried about the four hours of homework that I would now have fifteen minutes to do. I also probably wouldn’t have any friends.
The friends are things, too, and the teachers. Coming out of a small Catholic school where I felt a bit isolated, I had sort of accepted that I might never find the perfect group of friends but, lo and behold, they existed, and they existed at Allderdice. I was also told at said Catholic school that the teachers at my big public school would never have time to pay any attention to little old me, but not only have I received some of the most helpful and personal pedagogy here, but I have met some of the most interesting people who I have had the privilege of calling my teachers.
My teachers at Allderdice uplifted me in so many ways; I always sort of knew I was a good student, but it was the experience of taking my first AP’s and getting involved in research — none of which would have been achieved without aforementioned teachers — that convinced me that I was a student of real worth, someone who could make choices about her future and execute them with confidence. I remember sitting in a library full of excited kids in early May and feeling like I was really making progress for myself.
I remember the first-ever protest I attended, right on the front steps of Allderdice, against gun violence. I remember the days and weeks after the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue. I remember so many conversations that changed my perspective on the world around me. I cannot imagine experiencing the last four political years in any other place, and I am so grateful for the insight and the people that surrounded me during that time.
It’s hard to communicate how in awe I am looking back. In some ways, I’m still processing the fact that I was able to learn my way to the first floor annex, and that’s why this time has felt so infinite. I simply did not anticipate that I would experience so much in four years — love, loss, realizations, and so much growth. I’m in absolutely no place to be dishing out advice, especially because so much of my experience has been due to luck and privilege, but if anyone is reading this as an underclassman (if anyone is reading this period), I would encourage you to please take advantage, not only of this time, which is some of the last in your life to truly be carefree, but also of everything Allderdice has to offer: clubs, people, resources, and yes, classes too. Do the thing you’re only semi-interested in just for kicks, put in the extra work, take the risks — it pays off in so many ways. I know school has its Dirty Dice moments, but it should be acknowledged that in the right light it also has its Delightful Dice moments, and those are the moments I’m so scared of losing now. If even for my sake, try to find those moments and hold on to them tight — lest one day you find yourself on the graduation stage thinking, “Wow, that went by fast.” Don’t let it.