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Senior Send-off

May 9, 2016

The seniors of Central Focus want to share their own high school experiences in their own words.

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Last four years

Over the last four years, we have all become real people. We walked into freshman transition day back in August of 2012, completely unaware of where the next four years would take us. Would Dr. Arnel always be so perky? We have been those ‘annoying freshmen’ that haunt the halls. It’s basically just a nickname for each freshman class, we couldn’t have been THAT annoying. Freshman year was a trial, we all tried different clubs, sports and classes just to see where we belonged, where we fit in. And as that may have changed over the following three years, we all remember what we tried that first year. It would all be over soon anyways, even though it may have not seemed so.

Sophomore year, we basically were just here. We weren’t upperclassmen quite yet; we were still the underdogs. This was the year we got to order our class rings, symbolizing that someday, not too far from then, we would be gone. Facing our lives in separate directions. But, that all still seemed so far away. We had just gotten to high school, it felt like there were centuries to go until we actually had to go to college. The future seemed so far away, we were barely even able to drive. It didn’t seem as if we had to worry about anything, we were young and free, metaphorically. But soon, it would all be over.

Our third year in high school went by pretty fast, we were finally juniors, finally upperclassmen. We could finally drive to school, have jobs, and even apply for colleges. Somewhere within all the excitement of being at an age that we could finally do things on our own, that we didn’t even take the time to realize that our time here was drawing slowly to an end. We went to prom for the first time, we watched some of our closest friends graduate and go off to do their own things, and we watched our last summer as high school students fly by with barely any notice of what would come next. What is most amazing, is that we didn’t even realize that pretty soon, our time for that would be here too. Our time to go to take our final AP tests, our time to have a senior skip day, and our time to walk across the stage at the Family Arena to end our high school careers. Soon, it would all be over.

Senior year. Senior year flew by, our time together coming to an abrupt end. There aren’t even words to really describe just how emotional and time consuming and difficult it was, because at the same time, it wasn’t any of those things. It was fun and new, different and exciting. Yeah, it was also emotional, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. This is the end of something we have been working on for the past 13 years basically. All of our work and effort we have put in has helped us to get to this point. All of the things we are familiar with will change very soon. We are all now beginning new journeys, whether it be into college, the military, or anything really. We are all going our own ways. Senior year shouldn’t be something that is looked back on with regret, this is the last time in our lives we can actually be “adults” without having any of those responsibilities. The class of 2016 is drawing nearer to the end of their high school careers every single day. Soon, it will all be over.

The future is a daunting thing that is looming over all of us. What will we become? There aren’t really any specific things that we are supposed to do, we are just supposed to live our lives. Whatever becomes of us, it will be great. This is the time where we separate and do our own things. The future is here now, and we can make what we want of it. Graduation is on June 4. That is less than 30 days away now. The future is here, and this is our time. Now, it is all over.

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Letter to underclassmen

Dear Underclassmen,

Time flies whenever you are having fun, and time has flown by. These past four years have shaped me as a person and will do the same to you. I don’t want this to sound like a cliche, but high school can be the best or the worst years of your life all depending on you. The way you make it through high school, the best way to possibly make it out as the best you, is to find a group of people that accept you for you. Find those few friends that will be there for you through thick and thin, they are the ones who are worth the emojis in the contact name. There is so much to say about high school and everything that is bad and good about it. But the main thing to worry about is surviving high school, and the only way to do that is find the people you know you can count on. I know it sounds like I’m only saying you will only be good if you are with friends, but the fact is you won’t know who you are unless you surround yourself with people who love and support you. I have had a revolving door of friends all four years I have been here, but in my senior year I have finally found those few friends that help me be me. Being yourself no matter how  people perceive you or how they act towards you is the thing that always needs to be put first. You should always be your number one priority not school work, not friends, not your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you, you should put yourself first no matter how shallow it sounds. An assignment is bumming you out and you just can’t handle it, push it off for a little while, go into your teacher’s room in the morning and ask for help. Your friend is being pushy to go out, and you don’t feel up to it, take a raincheck tell them it isn’t a good night to go out. If they ask what is wrong then you know that is one of the true friends. If your significant other makes it seem like you aren’t going out enough but you think the two of you are going out on a decent pace then tell them. Make sure you are your number one priority. No one, I mean no one should make you feel like you don’t do enough for them or you are too self centered. You are you be sure to embrace it and everything that you stand for, no matter how selfish or arrogant you appear. To the juniors, your senior year is right around the corner and make it the best year of high school, it is probably the one you will want to remember. To the sophomores, I know many of you will be taking your first AP classes next year, but don’t be intimidated by them, they are just like any other class you take. You do your work and it all pays off. And finally, to the freshmen, High school goes by way too fast to enjoy its full experience before you know it you will be walking across the stage at graduation and finishing your high school career. I think what I’m trying to say is high school goes by fast way too fast for us to realize. These are some of the most important times of our life. Take time to enjoy them.

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Biggest impact from high school

I have never really been directly affected by school. Nothing here has every really impacted me to the point where I would remember it for the rest of my life. That’s not because I hate high school and just want it to be over. Although that is partially true, the real impact that high school has brought to me is the fact that I was always with my family or with my friends.

Being a senior and realizing you will be leaving soon has really taken a toll on how I feel about leaving everything behind; my friends, my family, and my chihuahuas! For someone who is close knit to their family, the transition from always being with them to only seeing them during holidays has really made me thankful and appreciative of the time I have with them now.

To be honest, high school will just be a building in my rear view mirror. I am looking forward to going off to college and being away from everything that I have known and have become familiar with for so long now. I am probably coming off as your typical anti school student so let me show my real feelings

I will miss this place. Plain and simple. No matter how much I gripe and moan about being here, I will miss it. The real impact that school has had on me is the fact that it’s the law and I have to be here; however, I would not have wanted it any other way. This is the place I have met some of my best friends, lost some of them, and through it all I found out who I really was.

This journey felt like a lifetime and a blink of an eye all at once but the students and teachers here are all worth remembering. I have met some of the most caring and compassionate people here who have helped me more than they know.

The thing about high school is that I won’t remember the part where I sat in a desk seven hours out of my day, I am going to remember the faces and the voices of the people who have shaped who I am these past four years. I am going to remember the activities I was involved in. I can sit here and say that high school has had no effect on me but it has and I will miss it and the people who have helped me through some of my hardest teenage angsty times.

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Graduation Bucket List

 

  • Make a collage of high school memories

 

This is where those pinterest and buzzfeed addictions come in handy.

 

  • Run a 5K

 

04/30 | Sat | 9:00am | St. Charles | Rush Superhero | 5K

05/01 | Sun | 7:30am | Six Flags | Roller Coaster Race | 10K, 5K

05/07 | Sat | 8:00am | Tower Grove | Trauma Warriors | 5K

05/14 | Sat | 8:00am | O’Fallon | Diploma Dash | 5K

05/21 | Sat | 9:00am | Forest Park | Bark in the Park | 5K

 

  • Plan memorable graduation party

 

Pick a date, send out invitations(or create a facebook event), and then plan a day full of fun, family, friends, and food.

 

  • Attend a school sporting event

 

Baseball, Volleyball, Track and Field, Lacrosse, Soccer, Tennis, and Golf

 

  • Go to Prom

 

May 7 at the St. Charles Convention Center

 

  • Use all the final exam exemptions you have left

 

Because why not? Final exemptions don’t work in college.

 

  • Make summer plans

 

The next edition of the Central Focus will have ideas on how to have a great summer

 

  • Buy a yearbook

 

Go to room 139 for more details! Buy before the end of the school year to remember all your senior year moments.

 

  • Final goodbye to teachers and students

 

This is a great way to utilize your senior thank you’s. It is the final time to tell your teachers you appreciate them, which means the world to them.

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Life after high school

As seniors prepare to graduate and enter adulthood, they have to figure out what to do with their life after high school. Some may choose to go to college, enter the workforce, go to a trade or technical school, or join the army. This map provides a visual of where students are going in reference to FHC, with some of them choosing to go very far away and some choosing to stay close to home.

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Letter to Underclassmen

Dear underclassmen,

High school is hard, and anyone who tells you differently is lying. This is the time where you will feel this urge to find yourself amongst all the influences of new friends and acquaintances, and when you finally think you have found it, your world will change and you will realize you have no idea who you truly are once again. This is normal.

You will soon realize that your social life is this revolving door where people come in just as quickly as they are leaving and it is exhausting, but something you should not be closed off to because you learn so much from every experience you have. The important thing to remember is you should never feel afraid or bad about being who you want to be, even if you change a million times before you graduate, it is okay because the people around you will change no matter what.

My advice would be to appreciate time. This sounds very cliche and sentimental, but it is so true. It is more than appreciating the time where you are having fun, you must also appreciate the times where you are hurting and feel like the world around you is crashing down because these are the times where you truly start finding who you are and these are the opportunities in which you can rebuild yourself and control who and what you surround yourself with.

Rebuilding yourself is not being afraid to try new things just because you do not know someone else doing it or because you think the people around you might judge you for it. If you push yourself into things you have always wanted to try, you will surround yourself with people who have the same interests as you and you will ultimately meet some of the greatest friends you could ever ask for. Live for yourself because if you don’t, no one else will.

And most importantly, just have fun. Do not take things, other than academics, too seriously because if you do, these next four years will pass you by too quickly for you to even enjoy.

 

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Teachers vs. Students

The last 2:20 bell is about to ring, and summer is on the minds of many – but for the seniors thoughts of graduation and college buzz through their thoughts. The idea of leaving the doors of Francis Howell Central for the last time is not only liberating, but terrifying. High school is all we’ve known for the past four years and being thrown into something entirely different without anyone to lean back on is enough to make a kid wish for freshman year all over again.

I know some people are so ready to move on out of here and explore all the world has to offer them, but I’m quite honestly terrified. Francis Howell Central has become my home, it’s the only school I’ve been at for more than three years without moving, and thinking of this place gives me the warm fuzzies, as cliche as it sounds. I love the people here, the teachers that have fostered my growth and development through the years, I’m going to miss a lot of it. I’m not asking to have my freshman year back, I had a lot of rough times then. The first day I walked into FHC I sat down in the bathroom and cried right up until the 7:20 bell because of the fear I had of how much things would change, and I wasn’t wrong. Things changed a lot, but I wouldn’t take any of it back. I like who I am. I am proud of the person I have grown into, but there’s more growing to do in college, and high school freshman me feared the same thing as college freshman me is going to: growth. Biology teacher Mr. Patrick Reed had a lot of similar fears that a lot of people have leaving high school when he left high school, and has had time as a teacher in a high school to reflect on those thoughts.

“Well, I mean, it’s the unknown, I mean you see movies on college and tv shows, and you know I was the youngest of five kids, so I had siblings, but I’m a learn by doing experience kind of person,” Mr. Reed said. “When I say fear of the unknown I mean expectations, like I had mastered the high school world. I knew exactly how to study for high school, how to get by, I was doing well, scores were good, blah blah blah, but in college, I had no idea what that looked like –  just the fear of living alone… making my own decisions, it’s empowering and invigorating, but at the same time it’s terrifying, because you’re like ‘I got nothin.’ I don’t have anybody who I can lean back on and do this for me.”

High school is extremely different from college, there’s no question about it. The main question people are dealing with is “am I prepared? Am I ready for the step forward into the unknown?” and sometimes you have no idea. You can prepare and prepare and prepare, and still be totally blindsided by something you never thought to prep for. The only way to really know what to expect is to be thrown into the water, and sorry to say, but no floaties allowed. High school has prepared us, sure, but there’s so much more than tests and your homework in the college world.

“My first semester was very rough, and it became a question of ‘What the heck do these people want, and can I give it to them, and can I succeed?’ That took a while to learn how to play the game so to speak,” Mr. Reed said. “High school, it gave me some skills that I obviously leaned on, and I think that’s what sometimes teachers forget, it’s not always content based, I needed to realize how to meet deadlines, I needed to learn how to meet expectations, I needed to learn that tests are important, and studying is a thing. I know high school is important for those, but as far as what did I learn in high school, I couldn’t tell you, except for science – other classes, I don’t know – but in college I could… [in college] I just learned how to be a person.”

College is the chance for you to recreate yourself. You are surrounded by people you have never met in your life, and maybe a few near and dear friends, but there’s nothing stopping you from changing yourself. No parents telling you how to spend your Friday nights, nobody has any preconceived notions of you or has heard anything from some ridiculous rumour that spread around the school within minutes of you making a joke to a friend. You are a blank slate and it is your chance to pick up the paintbrush and create the masterpiece you’ve always wanted for yourself. There’s no rush to rebuild, but when given the chance it’s almost silly not to take it. If you love yourself the way you are, no one’s stopping you from growing stronger in those things you absolutely adore. Life after high school is truly a major turning point in life, and for once you are in control of how things are handled.

“You guys are now centered around people that you just have the fortune or misfortune of being around, or at least parents have chosen this for you, and in college it’s your choice as to where you go. It’s your choice there as to who you associate with, and that is a powerful thing,” Mr. Reed said. “I grew in college. I became who I am there, I don’t know who that high school kid is, I don’t know who I was, I don’t. I don’t remember him, I don’t fondly think back to him; those years are over…The version that you guys have gotten to know, this me who is now 40, and even college was a long time ago, this version of me is not the high school version of me – it’s the college version. I figured out who I am. College has taught me how to be human.”

Although college is going to be different, or any life after high school, for that matter, there’s some good things that come through change. You can find where you truly belong. There are experiences out there you’ve always wanted to do and you never really got to cross off the elusive High School Bucket List just out there, waiting for you. No one’s going to really judge you for your first time going out without someone familiar or your inexperience with Big Scary College things.

“I would consistently remind myself to not be so worried about what other people think. We say that all the time, but it’s the heart of human emotion and hard to get around that, because everybody is so busy worried about that themselves, and it really doesn’t seem to matter as much, it’s not what you make it out to be, and the commentary, and bullying is a bit too simplistic of a term, but the commentary between kids that makes you feel that way is more pronounced in high school than it is in college, and it’s just no one cares,” Mr. Reed said. “If you have something to offer, if you have fun, if you have niches and hobbies and interests that other people find interesting and they share, then you’re good. You’re going to find those niches, you’ve just gotta look.”

Leaving high school is terrifying, sure. It’s freedom, it’s the ability to stay up until 4 am and eat out of a gallon tub of ice cream, it’s finding new people to calm you down when your world is falling apart at the seams, but it’s here. It’s happening, and we’re going to take it one step at a time.

“You know some people say one of the most awesome things about college is freedom, it’s also incredibly scary. You have to embrace freedom attack it… you try to get as many experiences as you can; you talk to professors, you go to clubs, you find people. You don’t just stay in your room and get upset, you’ve gotta go out, and then it becomes the best time of your life.”

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A letter to my classmates

I remember my very first day of high school. I remember how big the windows seemed when I walked up the staircases, I remember how many times I slipped up said staircases, and I remember the pure fear I felt trying to find a lunch table for the first time.

It literally seemed like a scene out of a movie: there I stood, with my lunch box and my best friend, frozen, as everyone seemed to rush around us. Then the camera panned out and we were two little dots among thousands of kids in a lunch room.

I’m fully aware the situation probably didn’t play out exactly that way, but I know that’s what it felt like, and how a lot of high school felt — surreal. As I’m sure you’ve been told time after time, high school will fly by. And when you’re as busy I have been the past four years, they go by even quicker.

All though each day seemed to drag on and on, I made myself make it through the week. “If I can just make it to Friday, I will be okay.” And then Friday came, I had an eventful weekend, and then all of a sudden it was Monday again. And I just needed to make it to Friday. But when day turns to week turns to month turns to quarter, before you know it, you’ve made it through another year. Congratulations! That’s quite the accomplishment.

I know that, as the year winds down, we are all just counting down to Fridays and then to the end of the year. It is so, so close, and we are looking forward to that moment when we are free for the summer (or forever). But these last couple weeks are some of the most fun, exciting, and defining of the year. With prom, spirit weeks, the pep assembly, AP tests, finals, and goodbyes, these aren’t weeks where you need to “make it to Friday.” Whether you’re a senior or an underclassman, this time of year is what will be freshest in your mind over the summer and how you’ll remember the year you had just completed. Take in each moment, even the frustrating ones, because they make you who you are and your year what it was.

In marching band, we have a popular phrase we say at the end of each practice, before our final run-through of the day. “Finish strong.” It is to remind us to use everything we had learned up to that point and to apply it. To put in every ounce of effort we have left, because it’s the last time we will do this until tomorrow. To enjoy what we are doing, because we might as well — we have to be here.

The end of the school year is very similar. We might not be preparing for a performance or a competition, but we are preparing for so much more: summer, graduation, college, our futures, getting married, having kids, retirement! Everything we do can help define who we will be and who we want to be as we continue to grow and learn. The skills we create for ourselves in high school are what we will use in college and beyond, and no matter what grade you’re in, you’ve already begun creating your future.

Take this time to enjoy the experience of being a teenager, and to thank those who have helped you make it this far. Thank your friends for sticking with you and your teachers for believing in you. Thank yourself for doing the best you can, and motivate yourself to continue that through this last week and beyond. You can do it! You’ve done so much already, and you have so much to look forward to.

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