Onward and upward

Today marks the manifestation of a gloriously baffling truth. I am now officially no longer a junior in high school.

Prize Day here at the Convent of the Sacred Heart has crept up on me surprisingly quickly. Although watching every member of each class carefully rise when her name is called and saunter up to the head of school to shake her hand can drag on at an agonizingly slow pace, our moving up ceremony is a meaningful one to me.

Not only am I granted for the chance to admire all of the colorful dresses and sunken-in-the-grass heels, but I also get to think about everything we’ve done this year in what now seems like the smallest fraction of time.

We have worked and put off work and worked harder. We have accomplished despite at times feeling unaccomplished. We have skirted by and soared high. We have prevailed.

Last week as I was cleaning out my locker and stuffing magnets and crumpled-up AP U.S. History notes into my erupting backpack, it hit me. It’s over. Junior year is over and I still have a pulse.

While I cannot even begin to count the hours of lost sleep and the stress-related pimples I suffered this year, my time as a junior feels shorter than expected. The next time I walk the Sacred Heart halls, I will be a senior. At this time next year, I will be 18 years old and less than 24 hours away from graduating, a college-bound legal adult. I will be forever in denial about it.

In my last column, I predicted that the end of May would taste pretty sweet. And it did, but I can’t help but taste a hint of bitterness, too.

We take things for granted. It’s not uncommon. After signing yearbooks at our annual Quesadilla Night, a grade-wide end-of-the-year celebration complete with scrumptious snacks, or spending a day by the pool with my friends this weekend, I realized something: I only have one more year with these girls. Girls who have become not just my classmates, not just my friends, but my sisters.

Yes, the prospect of senior year is undeniably exciting. We get to design a class rugby shirt and leave campus for lunch and wear whatever shoes we please. We get to sit at the front of the theater at morning meeting. We get to be sports captains and student council leaders. We get to be role models. We rule the school.

However, as much as I am excited for the senior perks and, ultimately, for life outside of the Sacred Heart bubble, I can’t imagine walking down those front steps in a white graduation gown in just a year from now. I can’t imagine next year’s liturgies and Field Day and Quesadilla Night, knowing that they will be our last. I can’t imagine having only one more year, one more month, one more day.

This knowledge of the imminent end ignites in me a fervent desire, without sounding cliché, to cherish every moment at Sacred Heart that I possibly can, as well as makes me regret all the times I skipped lunch with my friends to finish assignments in the library. Don’t get me wrong: the relief that comes with the start of summer is as beautiful as ever. Nevertheless, feeling the time slip away gives the end of May a slightly sour aftertaste.

So here’s some advice to rising juniors: don’t wish away junior year (all the time). I’m not going to lie to you; it is challenging. And often you will just want it to be over. But then all of a sudden it is, and you will be three-quarters of the way through high school already. And I think we could all stand to grow up slower.

Also, here’s one last tip: Take the SATs in January. That is all.


Jane Gerstner is now offically a senior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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