Casey’s Senior Reflection

Casey White, Staff Reporter

I used to live on Lincoln Boulevard, right over the fence of our practice field and tennis courts. When I was little, I could hear the soccer games being played and the referees blowing their whistles. I remember watching the black and white patterned balls fly over my fence and into my swimming pool. If I listened closely I could also hear the vague ringing of the announcement bells. “There’s a school there,” I thought, “and someday I’m going to go there.” Here I am (13 years later), a senior at West High, writing a paper on what it was like attending the school I’ve always known. An essay width of words cannot nearly illustrate what a roller coaster ride it’s been for me. Over the years I’ve laughed and cried, but I’m going to do my best to interpret my experience for you, and offer insight on how to make the best out of your journey through high school.

When I first came to West as a freshman during the 2014-2015 school year, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Yes, I had lots of friends from middle school, but I rarely saw any of them (let alone had a class with them). I felt detached and sometimes alone. I was one student on a campus of thousands, and everyone was bigger and older. I felt like the whole world was on my back. I had to make new friends, meet new teachers and familiarize myself with a massive campus. On top of that, I had to focus all my attention on school, when all I could think about was fitting in. I tried to distract myself from the stress of school by playing football, but that made matters worse. I would get home late and fall behind on homework. My grades began to fall while the stress kept rising. Eventually I had to stop playing, and at that moment I knew I was at my lowest point. I felt like I let my team down, my parents down and myself down. I was playing a sport that I no longer had interest in and was finishing math problems I had no idea how to solve. I didn’t smile as much anymore. The hardest part was putting on a smile for the people who counted on me to always be happy, when I was hurting. Then, halfway through the school year, my dad made me a deal. He told me that if I passed math he would give me $50. From that moment on, my whole mentality changed. $50 wasn’t just an incentive to me, it was also a reminder to never give up. I wasn’t going to let anxiety get the best of me and stop me from having fun. My grades improved, and at the end of the year, I was $50 richer. For the first time in a while, I was smiling.

After my freshman year, high school just kept getting better and better. I no longer had anxiety, and it was just a thing of the past. I was more sociable, made a whole lot more friends and got to know some of my teachers. I became more involved around campus. I went to games, joined clubs and played football and tennis my senior year. Academically, I earned myself a spot in the top 1% in class rank. I was having fun again, in the classroom and on the field. It felt so good to be enjoying school. When I was a little kid I always looked at school as if it were a chore and never really took the time to think about the big picture. School is an opportunity to get an education in what you want to be in life and become successful while doing it. If I had to pass down any knowledge that I personally have learned throughout the years, it’s to have fun. Make high school memorable. Don’t have anxiety about not fitting in or not feeling like you belong. If you are student at this school, or at any school for that matter, then you belong right where you are. When you grow up and have a family of your own, you should be able to tell your kids how much fun you had when you were young. Don’t have any regrets when you walk across the stage on graduation day. Go to class, get an education and keep working hard. If you fail a test or if you have a bad grade in a class, have confidence that you’ll succeed, whether it’s school related or not.

While I understand that having fun can make time fly by fast, I also realize that time will eventually run out. I have known some of my friends since I was in kindergarten. I have known them for most of my life, and in one month, I probably will never see some of them again. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. If you really like spending time with a friend, just because high school is over doesn’t mean that you can never hang out again. Thanks to social media, you can keep in touch any place anytime. In my sophomore year, my English teacher Mr. Behnam told me something that I will never forget. “Tomorrow you will graduate.” Edging closer to graduation day, this has become clearer to me than ever. It felt like just yesterday that I was sitting in my first period class on my first day of high school. Just as I can easily recall Ms. McMillan welcoming us to West High, I will always remember (just as easily) my last goodbye. Thank you, to all my teachers, for giving me an education, thank you to all my friends for sticking by my side and thank you mom and dad for loving me unconditionally and for always being someone that I can look up to. Last but not least, thank you, West High, for giving me an awesome four years, filled with endless, everlasting memories. Go ‘Pack!