The world’s a mess; we’ll have to step up

The worlds a mess; well have to step up

A year ago, almost exactly to the day I am writing this, I took my last AP test. It was the final essay on the final exam of what had been a truly exam-heavy year. The prompt was straightforward: What is something you think is overrated?

Being my smug self, my answer was “high school.” I described my own sadness (and disdain) for people who constantly relive their glory days and how those classic high school moments (prom, homecoming, pep rallies) haven’t affected my coming of age. “High school didn’t look like High School Musical” and all that….I mean I guess now I can say, thanks to COVID-19, that high school truly has not resembled the wonderful journey of Troy and Gabriella.

Since prom was an hour-long (and hilariously awkward) live stream of a DJ talking to himself, my feelings about those quintessential high school moments are a little less cynical.

And while I would have liked to experience the typical fourth-quarter most seniors expect, I know that I have squeezed every last bit of growth that I could out of my time at New Trier.

I learned that failing my algebra final freshman year did not cause my world to crumble.

I learned how to think for myself, listen to other people, and disagree respectfully.

I have learned from an incredible group of students and teachers and found out that critical thinking and healthy debate is a hell of a drug.

I learned that I actually don’t know anything and will always have more to learn.

I learned that I like learning. And most importantly, I discovered my own voice.

It is amazing how much a firmly worded letter or article can change minds or move people to action.

I have seen the best and worst parts of NT, and I am grateful for the freedom I have had to speak my mind. And I am grateful for the adults in the building who not only listen, but listen with respect.

New Trier has helped me realize that I can (and should) use my words and take action to create change, and it has never been more essential for us to take ownership and responsibility for what we want our futures to look like.

And I believe that we, as some of the best young minds in this country, have a responsibility to fight for a better world. We must fight to expand the privileges that we have been given to reach more people.

So I may need to revise my thesis from my snarky essay on my AP Language test last year: I still think some parts of high school are overrated and undeniably contrived, but the true value in high school is how it allows kids to begin learning and thinking for themselves.

It’s where we become productive members of society and actually use our brains. New Trier has been quite the launchpad.

We might not cross the finish line in the way we envisioned, but it was still quite the journey. I think our class is in the unique situation of having an amazing graduation that will actually impact our lives. For most people, graduating high school is just a hazy memory of a long list of names or sweating in a cap and gown. This experience has the capacity to change our worldview and futures, and I am hopeful that it will be for the better.

So thank you to all of my classmates, my friends, my teachers, and my parents (I occasionally expressed that classic teen ~angst~ and they were endlessly patient). I could not have asked for a better education, or a better group of people to guide me and push me when I needed it.

We really have no clue what the next chapter will look like, but I cannot wait to see what we do next.