An Observation

From here I see my campus from an aerial view. If I turn around, I see the backs of the display books in the library. I feel as if I am spying on my own classes, looking through the glass as if admiring a fish tank. The empty space is filled with reflections of light as the mountains project onto the classroom air. The ceiling is as busy as the ground, as the light blends the air the way water blends light.

The soft, patchy hills feel uninviting up close as the pine needles keep me seated delicately. The towering trees are no mightier than grass in the valley, as the vertical space of campus is dominated by mountains, surrounded by empty air.

The birds aren’t tied to the ground. The space is theirs, and they are free to exist on a higher plane. They have their own conversations up here. They chatter amongst each other as I do with my friends in the confines of the trees. 

For this moment, I am with them. I exist on the higher plane, resisting the hour where I will return to my path on the game board of campus. The ground is vast, and I never considered my ability to break my trails. I’ve existed on this campus for years, and I’ve traced the same route each day, etching my footprints into the ground. I’ve left spaces abandoned and ignored. There are pockets in the trees where I’ve never set foot. The heart of campus is in the green leaves, though I experience life on the white concrete, referencing the trees as accessories.

From afar, these trees are the campus. Each little patch on the mountain is a three dimensional plant that stands alone. The buildings are silent amongst the loud winds that rush through the branches, and are invisible behind the deep, warm tones of nature. Before returning to my concrete trail, I will keep in mind where the life of campus resides. My existence circles the trees, and my classroom is not as tall as I once believed.

Image Credit: Home Stratosphere

Scheduling

As graduation comes near, I have filled nearly every block in my schedule with events. I’ve needed to purchase more clothes to accommodate the frequency at which I will need to dress up.

With back-to-back formal events, it feels as though we are making up for a year of lost time. Due to quarantine, I have not worn formal attire in almost two years. This schedule is typical for end-of-year seniors, though I often find myself opening my planner a bit too often out of excitement.

Having a filled calendar gives me something to look forward to each day or week. Even if it’s just a final exam, that day has something written on it. My school planner is running out of pages, and the schedule has grown so long that I may need to purchase next school year’s calendar early.

With all of these plans, I hope that the blank days following graduation will not feel empty. I have plans for the summer as well as college to attend, though, while I look forward to the break, I plan to enjoy every day of this busy May.

Image Credit: Quapaw Area Council

Literature

As I look towards the AP English Literature Exam, I find that my favorite book can be applied to almost any prompt.

When you truly admire a work of literature, you can find obscure concepts within it. The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book to analyze and read. Once you finish a class, you can feel the literature being put behind you as you close each of the books. However, AP English Literature class has given me an opportunity to revisit old stories and use my newer skills to analyze these works further.

I look forward to using my personal collection of stories I’ve read to answer prompts on the AP exam, as it will allow me to reflect on my academic highlights from school. As I recall each story, I can remember the class conversations I’ve participated in and the numerous essays I’ve written. I hope to remember these stories into my older years and apply them to my own life.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Art by Francis Cugat

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