Looking Back While Moving Forward 

Three SHS seniors reflect on their high school experience before graduating

Looking Back While Moving Forward 

Cleo Belber, Staff Writer

In the midst of the digital age, instant gratification and technological advancements have caused the world to move at a faster pace. From being able to call a friend overseas to joining a virtual classroom from the comfort of one’s bed, the WiFi-centricity most of our young generation has relied upon for the last decade is setting us up for a quickly changing lifestyle, with little time for pauses or moments of deliberate reflection. 

It is for this reason that reflection and recollection can be a gratifying opportunity, not only to learn about oneself but to use the past constructively to build a stronger and more fulfilling future. At culminating and cathartic moments during one’s life, such as high school graduation, reflection can be a very positive way to understand one’s personal evolution and progress through tumultuous and often impressionable years. 

For SHS senior Lily Bergin, this moment of transition is one she is well-prepared for. “I don’t like to live with regrets,” Bergin expresses. Given the chance, she admits fortuitously that she would not, under any circumstances, redo her high school years. “The future reflects the decisions I have made,” she explains, “so there’s not really any point thinking about what could have happened.” 

For other seniors, however, this attitude is not matched. SHS senior Jack Wilcox verbalizes a common feeling among students: “In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself about my grades,” Wilcox shares. The feeling of not being able to get the most out of one’s adolescent life is common for teenagers everywhere. SHS senior Luke Greene agrees, confiding that he should have “prioritized mental health” above more material academic or social accomplishments. “I wish I had found a better support system from the get-go,” Greene details, explaining that this would have helped him enjoy himself without adding too much emotional strain to his personal life.

During a normal high school experience, social events such as Prom and time to hang out with friends would have helped the time (and the academic work) fly by. However, with a pandemic abruptly cutting off an influential and important time in the Class of 2021’s high school lives, adapting to independence has been a fascinating, and at times isolating, experience. Despite the trauma and tremendous loss of Covid-19, Bergin thinks the time apart was just “bizarro” enough to pull people together. Bergin adds: “I got to investigate myself a little more.” A time of self-discovery and introspection, the pandemic allowed students to get to know their learning styles and handle themselves at home. “I struggled a lot with distance learning and the subsequent academic challenges,” Wilcox admits. Greene adds that, while he enjoyed the convenience of the hybrid model, he “definitely wasn’t learning as much.”

Looking forward to the future, all three students hope to attend four years of college, make some money, and hopefully become comfortable in their own skin. Going forward, each of them brings along some powerful lessons: “You’re always going to be the enemy in someone’s book, so just try and be better for yourself in your own book,” Greene acknowledges. Bergin agrees and adds that self-advocacy can be one of the most crucial skills to learn as a teenager. Wilcox’s central advice is not to get caught up in the competition of high school. Choosing classes based on “interest” rather than “GPA reputation” is one thing he wishes he had prioritized during these formative years. 

Although the past four years have been anything but normal, all three seniors value the amazing teachers they’ve had (especially Mr. McNeil, Ms. O’Driscoll, and Ms. Kimball), and the valuable times they’ve spent with friends and faculty alike. Their optimistic spin on high school is refreshing, especially considering the roller coaster ride these four years have been for everyone. “I will miss the memories,” says Wilcox, “but I am excited to continue my academic journey.” In this pivotal moment where childhood and adulthood intersect, and where a monotonous activity becomes a fond recollection, reflection and anticipation are two ways to make sense of a rapidly changing world. 

In the grand scheme of things, life is a series of twists and turns and fleeting moments, so from one senior to the rest: enjoy, reflect, and savor everything.  Congratulations, Class of ‘21!