My Pencil

With the slow re-entrance to in-person classes, I have found that several digital aspects still remain part of my daily routine. While I used to carry a large pencil case with an assortment of options, I now have only one pencil that I keep in a little fuzzy pouch. Paper handouts are a rare commodity these days, and I find my handwriting degrading by the day.

I have left behind the use of binders – something which I have practiced and perfected since the second grade. The amount of papers I use now simply does not fill enough space to justify the use of a large cardboard structure that fills my backpack. I now carry a simple folder, one I have been saving for years.

My inability to write as aesthetically as I did in previous years may hinder me in life, but at least I can type efficiently.

I know that I will never retire my pencil, however, as there will always be a need to write.

Image Credit: CBS News

Limited Time

Now that spring has begun and the air is faintly smelling of orange blossom filling the valley air in the brisk mornings, I can tell my time here is coming to an end. The morning and afternoons driving up and down the weaving road into the campus atop the hill. There are so many fond memories that will last more than a life time.

But now I am counting the weeks left in this beautiful place that I have spent the last four years of my life. In one way, this place is kind of all I have ever known, but it has made me want to branch out and go explore. I have learned so much academically, but also as a person.

I’ve learned what to expect from people and how to protect myself and control emotions, I’ve learned how to make true life long connections with people but most importantly I began to learn who I am.

All of these small simple lessons have been learned simply from waking up and going to school every morning and giving it all I could every day.

So now I have realized I have limited time left, and that is in fact scary, but it is leading me to a new adventure.

Photo credit : Ojai Valley School

Deciding

As colleges acceptances come to a close, I am left with a mere thirty days to decide where I want to spend the next four years.

Based on circumstances I can’t remember, I have narrowed it down to two colleges. One of prestige, and one of comfort.

Now I must decide, do I go to a school the size of a small town with a bumper sticker name, or a smaller school a step up from high school? As I gravitate towards the larger school, another big one comes in to play.

The final college decision letter. What was originally my top choice (though now I’m unsure) will now be competing with my new, other top choice.

There are two outcomes to this situation. Either they reject me and I’m disappointed, though my decision is made easier. Or I am accepted, and I now must choose.

I can’t decide which is harder. Though subconsciously, I know which choice is right.

Image Credit: UCLA Newsroom

Pressure of Life

Life is hard. Life is not fair. Life has many ups and downs, especially growing up.

Once you reach a certain age, responsibilities pile up and you are expected to become more self-reliant. The teenage years are rough- balancing school, friendships, and family life. Then add the prospects of mental health and relationships.

Mental health is really important and life could take a toll on one’s mental health. Anxiety due to school and other things. Depression or sadness due to life and the tolls that life brings onto someone.

photo credit: Medical News Today

Relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships are really hard to navigate during the teenage years. Finding a connection that works is hard, and is really important to keep one sane.

School is very stressful. Teachers and parents put pressure on students and kids to do well in school, so they can do well in life. Students and kids also put pressure on themselves to get into great colleges.

Life is full of ups and downs, full of scary and fun moments.

Spring

Each year, spring seems to be the most overwhelming season. School begins to speed up as we are faced with tasks each day.

Now that the pandemic is slowly returning to normalcy as more students come onto campus, we are catching up on what we missed. This, however, results in the cramming of a years’ worth of experience into a single month. It is enjoyable in its little moments, though when I look at my planner, the words begin to blend into each other as the pages are smeared with hastily placed pencil marks. I return to my planner hourly, adding both academic assignments and extracurricular events. It is covered with reminders, such as bring my costume for the musical, or drop off a scholarship application.

I enjoy each day thoroughly, though looking ahead can be overwhelming. The tasks for one day are manageable, though skimming the multiple notes and plans for the week can feel as though it all must be done that day.

Perspective is vital to managing a planner. I always note that I am living in only one of the days on the page, and it is not yet time to manage the others. This spring may be busy, though it is my last opportunity to experience high school. I plan to enjoy every day, as they are my final moments on this campus.

Spring
Image Credit: Alina Demidenko – iStock

Journalism

Journalism can be strange. It is a new way of facilitating my love for writing, yet with emphasis on the most important element – storytelling. Instead of researching my topics online, I now must go into the world and obtain information from people.

The reactions differ – some are more than happy to tell their story. Others, however, remain reserved as you push your way into their schedule. I enjoy the social element of journalism. I have an intriguing conversation with at least one person per week.

Journalism has taught me how to reach out to people, even if you don’t know them. I understand the format of an interview request email, and how to conduct a conversation where I get the other person to say all the right things. In journalism, I am but the message man, bringing other people’s stories into the limelight. I have enjoyed this experience as it has shifted me away from academic writing, improved my social skills, and made me a better storyteller.

Image Credit: Nicole Schuman

A Page of Four Years

February has brought about the time to create senior pages. I have spent time scrolling through my camera roll, searching for the perfect photos that can encapsulate four years of high school into a single 8″x10″ page.

I found photos of my friends. Photos of projects I had done in art class. Photos I had taken for AP World History projects. Sifting through hundreds of memories to find the most valuable moments has proven to be more difficult than I had thought. I have narrowed it down to about forty photographs, which, if I were to use them all, would be about a centimeter wide each.

While small on paper, many memories still remain as vivid as the day I experienced them. I remember carving pumpkins at my freshman Halloween dance. Is that memory less valuable than the time I hung my art in an exhibit? Do I feature friends, experiences, or accomplishments? What photograph will take up the most space?

As I sift through the photos, I imagine what words will be written on a page. I could write a classic senior quote, a thank you to those who helped me through school, or simply my name in a basic font.

I know my senior page will encapsulate my high school experience as I remember it. I just need to find what moment will serve as the biggest picture.

Yearbook
Image Credit: Josten’s Memory Book

Lonely in your own home

I moved to boarding school in America 3 years ago. Since then my life has changed completely. I feel like a different person. A better person. I grew up in the south of Germany. Beautiful mountains, living in the heart of the Black Forest. I always loved where I lived. But school in Germany can get tough, especially being in a Gymnasium. Ninth grade is said to be the hardest one of all. Everything comes together and just pushes you down. I felt stressed, anxious, and just not good enough. I had no motivation left because no matter how much work I put in I felt like it was never enough.

When I arrived in America it all changed. I finally felt truly happy again. The people were supportive and just so incredibly nice. It was so different, so… amazing. I finally was able to show what I was able to do, I didn’t feel hopeless or pressured anymore. The teachers were supportive and always helping. I immediately felt at home. The outdoor education trips were incredible, the people were incredible, everything was just perfect for me. This school has made me into a happier version of myself. It helped me discover what I am good at and what I want to do in the future.

And now this is my last year here. I can’t believe how fast time flies. This school will forever have a place in my heart, and I am truly thankful for it, for making me into the person I am today.

The classic dichotomy of senior year

Mural

Right now I am planning for a mural I will be painting on former OVS teacher, Ms. Pasqua’s house. She has inspired me to paint a scene of Ojai with the Topa Topa mountains lined with inspirational quotes. This mural is an outlet for me to express my passion in the fight for equity.

The Ojai Valley has given me so many opportunities to improve myself as an artist, and painting a mural visible to its residents is my way of giving back to the community. I have had practice with this form of art in middle school when we worked on large-scale projects. I helped to work on the Fourth of July parade floats as well as life-size paper mache projects. I painted giant decorations to add to our OVS float, and created letter-signs that spelled out the name of our school.

Growing up and seeing the beautiful murals in Ventura County, I have always wanted to add my own color to the town. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to gain more experience with painting and share my art with the Ojai community.

The Ventura Mural that inspired me to paint on a larger scale.
Image Credit: Lu Ross Academy

My Journal

I realize I’ve forgotten about my daily planner. It’s been sitting in my desk for the past couple of weeks, leaving me to keep track of all my assignments in my head. Without it, academics have felt like one big game of whack-a-mole. I’ve been barely holding on, about to turn the lights out for the night before I realize an assignment is due tomorrow.

It can feel annoying writing every assignment down as its given. However, without an organized book to keep track of my assignments, I have felt like I’ve tuned out of academics.

Today I wrote down everything I needed to do. It’s not too much when you look at it on paper. When it’s all in your head, however, it can feel overwhelming. Just when you think you’ve cleared your agenda, another task appears. When I write down my assignments or meetings, however, I can accomplish things in a more mentally civilised way.

It is important for me to not let my own head be in charge of keeping track of things. Not everyone works the same way, but for me, writing down my responsibilities is the best way to get them done, and erasing them is very rewarding.

Image Credit:  LEUCHTTURM