A Reflection on My High School Experience

Image via Chloe Baker

Image via Chloe Baker

August 28th, 2018 was my first day of high school, and May 26th, 2022 will be my last. It’s hard to believe just how fast these four years have concluded, especially my senior year. Just a few months ago, my biggest stressor was getting to school early so I could park my car in the lot (spoiler alert, I still can’t park properly between two cars), and now I’m a legal adult who is about to go on a totally new adventure. I would say that this stress is a bit more serious. As the year winds down, my free time in class has allowed me to reflect on the person high school has helped me become. Here I present a collection of only a few of my experiences, and lessons I’ve learned. 


It is known that in the coming week before the first day of school, everyone’s social media “stories” will be flooded with a screen shot of their class schedule. Schedule comparisons began, and lucky for freshman me, I had tons of existing middle school friends in almost each one of my classes. On my first day when I sat down in English 9, I was seated beside someone I didn’t know, despite knowing half the class. My new seat partner and I quickly became close friends, and she recently confessed to me how she was intimidated by me at first because she felt like I was “already friends with everyone.” Being friends with “everyone” is a bit of an overstatement, but throughout my high school years, I did make an effort to befriend everyone I could. I enjoy getting to know people, which is something I think contributes greatly to my love of journalism and interviewing. 


My one regret from freshman year is that I wasn’t involved as much in student life as I continued to be for the rest of my high school career. I was tightly wound, and keeping my grades the absolute best they could be, was a big priority of mine. However, in the spring of my freshman year, I decided to take a large chance, and run for the upcoming sophomore class council. This was an impulsive decision, and when being asked by Ms. Winter why I wanted to run, I remember replying “I think it will be fun.” I’m not sure if this is the answer the ideal candidate would give, but I spoke from the heart, and ended up serving on sophomore, junior, and senior council. I came early to school to hang up campaign posters, while also running against one of my best friends. Fortunately we both got elected. I got my braces off the same day as the election results were announced, which ignited another flame of self-confidence in me, and that, along with being a newly elected class officer were just the two things I needed to get me ready for my sophomore year. 


Sophomore year is what I referred to as “the year of trying new things”, except the one new thing I didn’t try was driving. While most of my peers were off getting their learners permits and hitting the road, I was stuck feeling sorry for myself after failing my permit test twice. The truth is, failing was a blessing in disguise, as even today I still get a little nervous before sitting in the driver’s seat. I wouldn’t have been ready at 15. But at the time, it was quite upsetting. One thing it did teach me though, is that everyone moves at their own pace, and that’s ok. 


Something new I did do during 10th grade, was try out for the JV softball team. One of my close friends thought it would be fun if I did. I got hit in the head by a ball on the first day of tryouts, but fast forward three weeks, and I was up at bat during a scrimmage for the first time. Turns out the other team didn’t know what they were doing in the field, and I somehow got to third base after my dud of a hit. Needless to say, I was proud. 


My fondest memory from Sophomore year, and maybe even high school, was the 2019 choir trip to Disney. I, along with other South Lakes students, were selected to sing at the annual Candlelight Processional Show, a large concert featuring chorus students from all over America. I felt nothing but pride representing South Lakes on stage surrounded by so many different and talented people, and it was yet another reminder of how music can unite people so easily. 


The endless opportunities of rides, ice cream, shopping, and late nights were enjoyed by all, but it wasn’t by these aspects that things changed for me. When all the fun and the Florida sun became too much to handle, some students fell dehydrated, sick, and stressed. During this time we stuck by each other, and real bonds were formed. I came back from the trip closer to my “choir friends”, but two years and many experiences later, they are no longer just my “choir friends”, but instead some of my best friends. 


Though the majority of my junior year was spent in my bedroom doing virtual school, my ability to usually see the glass half full came in handy during this difficult time. I remained positive and engaged in my studies, despite my motivation declining. By far the best part was the spring sport season, as I was back on the JV softball team after my sophomore season was canceled. I credit softball for a lot of my happiness last year, as it allowed me to leave the virtual school environment, be with friends, and have fun. I may not have been the star athlete, but I made my mark on the team. I sat the bench, but had occasional hits here and there.


A very memorable event of junior year was the 2021 prom. Yes, as a class council officer I might be biased, but it was truly a night to remember. The planning part of it was intense, but it definitely left me equipt with better leadership qualities, and left me flipping through pages of “prom magazines”, something I never knew existed prior. I’ve heard words from my own friends about how the “parking lot prom” wasn’t fun, but just like most things in life, it was what you made it. Yes, at first it was a little awkward. I remember sitting down at a round table with my group, drinking diet coke, and not knowing what to do, since no one was dancing. A senior came up to our table and made us promise if her group got up to dance, that we would follow. Shortly after, the whole dance floor was occupied with students, and from the looks of it, everyone was having fun. After the hard year, it was well deserved and enjoyed. To this day, my junior prom dress is my favorite thing I’ve ever worn. Junior year taught me that unexpected obstacles can often lead to good memories. 


My senior year is so fresh in my mind, but at the same time feels like it happened forever ago. During the end of the summer I helped lead tours for new students, and then assisted at orientation. Both of these events left me feeling somewhat “old and wise”, after being asked questions that one day, I would have asked to upperclassmen myself. The senior class council painted the 2022 wall, which to my great surprise easily took us over 4 hours to do. Then finally when it was time to paint our names, everyone got so nervous because they wanted their mark to be perfect. I didn’t care, I honestly was tired and hungry and wanted to get home. I took a paintbrush and lazily wrote “Chloe” under the top of the first two in 2022, followed by a smiley face. I didn’t think twice about it, I just did it. Just going for it, and not thinking twice is the kind of mentality that has continued to follow me throughout this last year of high school. 


I’m not quite sure how to put into words what this year was like. For me, it consisted of stressful college applications, waiting for acceptances, and now, a lot of burnout (with many fun times and good memories thrown into the mix). I grew and changed a lot as a person this year, and I think if freshman me could see senior me, she would be proud. I held many leadership positions this year, and I can tell that I’ve been a role model to younger students, if nothing else, that is what really made this year special to me. More than anything, I can say that senior year has taught me the value of hard work, friendship, building relationships, and that everything happens for a reason. As I sit here in chemistry class writing this instead of paying attention, (per usual) I am haunted by a mantra I saw online, “don’t count down the days, make every day count.” I notice myself outgrowing the high school environment, and wanting to leave, but I know that when it’s done, I’m going to miss it. 


Thank you to everyone at South Lakes for making the past four years so memorable. Thank you to all of my teachers, and to the South Lakes staff for always being so supportive. I’m going to miss all of the fun times I’ve had in high school, but I know I will carry these memories with me always.