Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why You Should Cherish High School

Why You Should Cherish High School

People often ask me why in the world would I want to return to high school. I'm a teacher, which means I must have enjoyed school to a certain degree (enough to come back, obviously), but you don't have to become a teacher to savor the moments of high school that you'll never experience again. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't head over heels in love with high school. I hate math and science was difficult for me so of course there were struggles. You can be #1 or #500 in your class, you're always going to face some sort of difficulty whether it be academic or social throughout your high school years.

What I'm asking in this article is for those of you in high school: step back and try to enjoy the little, as well as big, things school had to offer you (as a former student myself, I know that's easier said than done). For those of you who graduated four years ago or forty: take the time to remember all the life lessons, skills, and lasting memories you made during those few precious years of your life.

Everyone has a different experience with high school, even your best friend did, no matter how much they were like you or how many similar classes you took. For me, my high school was longer than most considering my town doesn't have a middle school. High school is 7-12: a bit mortifying when you're coming into this intimidating 3-story building at age 12, roaming the halls with 18-year-olds.

It isn't just the classes I remember, although those memories do flood back to me every time I walk these halls as a substitute teacher. I remember the teacher, the friends who shared that class with me, maybe my favorite activity we did that year. I see who's gone and who is still here. Who moved to a different room. Who teaches a different subject. It becomes very surreal, seeing the students in the same environment I was just four years ago. The choir students stand on the same risers. The kids at lunch who sit at the same table my friends and I had for years. The music tech kids using the same computers in the lab that I used to work on.

And that isn't it. Most of us have (or do) participate in some sort of extracurricular activities whether it be football, chess club, or musical theater. I was involved in many clubs, the most prominent being musicals, drama club, writing club, and volleyball. Every time I walk into that gym, it's waxed-floor scent and echoed voices remind me of the many hours spent practicing and competing against other teams. I attend my sister's concerts and the auditorium takes me back to late-night musical practices and getting out of classes for dress rehearsals. Every time the lights dim I still feel the rush of anticipation I used to get before taking the stage, whether or not I'm the one on it or not.

I made so many friends of all different academic and social levels. Practices were long and difficult and I often found myself complaining. I wish I could reach out and shake my teenaged self and say "Your life is going to get so much more complicated so suck it up and enjoy this while you can. Believe it or not, you're going to miss it!" The homework I had in high school doesn't even remotely compare to the assignments I had in college. I would never try to downplay the woes and worries of a high schooler--at the time, that's all we know. Friends, homework, maybe part-time jobs. We honestly don't know responsibility. Sometimes it takes until we have even graduated college to fully understand responsibility. Maybe even longer than that. The fact is: the stressors in life don't even start to begin in high school, but you can't expect teenagers to understand that, because to them, even something minor may honestly feel like the end of the world and no coaxing or conversation will convince them otherwise.

I'm not here to tell you real life sucks and I yearn for my teenaged years on a daily basis. I definitely don't. I don't miss the drama. The not-being-an-adult. The bored, limited feeling I got during my senior year in anticipation of college and just generally progressing in life. I don't miss all of my classmates or all of my teachers and surely not all of my experiences. But it's days like today that make me reminisce about those moments and realize how much those six years have shaped my life and helped define who I am today. (Real life sucks sometimes, but it's awesome more than it sucks. Freedom and money, yay!)

I'm sure not everyone agrees with me. We never have the same experiences, as I mentioned earlier. Maybe you can't relate to anything in this article and your teenaged years were vastly different. Either way, I truly do believe there will always be some time period in our lives that we wish we could revisit, if only for a day.

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