The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

Great Expectations — A Senior Reflection by Jasmine Porter

It’s over. The longest and simultaneously shortest four years of my life thus far are over, and honestly, I’m not sure how to feel. 

In some ways, it all seems a little anticlimactic. 

To end four years of “epic” feats studying for AP exams I can hardly remember the date of. To bid farewell to teachers and friends alike who in four years’ time won’t recognize my face. 

Perhaps that’s why even now, I’m struggling to write this. Not because I didn’t have fun in high school (although I never dated, went to raging parties, or competed in impressive competitions and conferences with peers). Not even because most nights were spent doing assignments until dusk and clinging to sleep until the crack of dawn. It’s because as youth, we’re inundated with movies and older siblings and messages telling us that these will be the “best four years of life”. Teachers played on our fears by parroting that “this wouldn’t fly in high school” and parents stressed that you had to savor every moment of it before you became an adult with taxes, jobs, and responsibilities.

Oh, the responsibilities. 

So accordingly, I came in with great expectations. Even as reports forecasted increasing COVID-19 cases that summer of 2020, I clung to the hope that I’d start 9th grade normally (I didn’t). Spending your first year of high school online, then sort of online, then sort of in-person, kind of puts a damper on things, but I remained uncharacteristically optimistic nonetheless. I had some of my favorite teachers that year and built a strong academic foundation that’d carry me through even the most challenging classes of my high school career. By unmuting my mic, turning on my camera, and “locking in”, I found success despite the circumstances.

Sophomore year was marked by mask-wearing and many “we’re getting back to normal”s by admin and government officials alike. Normal, in the sense of homework and tests that took the entire period to complete. Normal, in the sense of clubs and homecoming and things that made the workload just a bit more bearable. I won’t lie freshmen, 10th grade was hard. But so was 1st grade, 5th grade, and 9th grade at the time.

My biggest regret is not being able to experience more of O’Plaine: the cheerful, more well-lit campus. My time was cut even shorter by commuting every morning to Almond to take Honors Spanish IV, a class containing solely juniors and seniors and then me

10 out of 10, don’t recommend, ‘less you’re a bigger language nerd than you let on. I rest my case. 

They weren’t lying when they said junior year’s the worst, but it’s not for the reasons you might think. In terms of rigor, 12th grade is comparable, only you justify putting aside homework under the guise of doing college applications. As a sophomore, I’d say you’re equally as motivated to do well, only the workload is actually appropriate for your abilities. 

It doesn’t matter whether you take 5 APs or 1. It doesn’t matter whether you preside over 3 clubs or none. For most people, 11th grade is hard, and it’s hard because suddenly these great expectations appear and you desperately care to meet (or exceed) them. You get homework, you get jobs, you get wise to the upcoming application process. You get physics, you get the SAT, and you get numerous new responsibilities. That’s not to say you can’t have fun, or that you’ll dread every day leading up to May, but be smart about the courses you take, prioritize studying for exams and standardized tests if necessary, and start thinking seriously about your plans post-grad. 

Your senior year self will thank you. 

And last, but not least, 12th grade. Physically, I may have only aged four years, but I feel like a 74-year-old trapped in a high schooler’s body. Wise beyond my years, yet equally a scholastic novice. 

Let’s assume that you’re applying to four-year colleges: if you started your common app and supplemental essays over the summer, are finished with standardized testing, and have a clear-cut list of schools you’re applying to, the first semester shouldn’t be that bad. Though I checked the first two off my list, overconfidence and burnout merged to make October to December a slog, especially as new regular decision schools kept finding their way into my portal. As soon as I went to sigh a breath of relief after winter break, scholarships and schoolwork fueled senioritis into full effect, something that gets even the best of us. 

It’s not always possible to work hard and play hard, but ensure that where there’s one, the other follows close behind. Misery loves company, and in true elderly fashion, I can reflect on my senior year and say that every challenging course and troublesome assignment brought me closer to my peers and friends. 

Underclassmen: I won’t bore you with do’s and don’ts, a list of advice, or a self-important “here’s what I did to do well in high school”. Although preparation is crucial to being successful over these four years, mistakes can serve as invaluable learning experiences. Just because you didn’t get the girl, get into Yale, or get over that fight with your ex-best friend, doesn’t mean life is over — though we’ve been taught to believe a single slipup is enough to derail your future. 

But if there’s one mistake not worth making, it’s this: don’t think that high school is the “end all, be all” of life. Although I have fond memories of late start morning Starbucks runs and fun Kahoot matches, high school was a journey, not a destination, and one no more spectacular than the next or last. Life didn’t end when I got my first B, nor did it start the first time I went to prom. 

Be kind, work hard, and make smart decisions, because while this chapter will end sooner than you think, the rest of your life is still ahead of you, and it’s complete with its new diversions, challenges, and great expectations. 

About the Contributor
Jasmine Porter
Jasmine Porter, Editor
Hi guys! My name is Jasmine, and I am one of your editors for the 23-24 academic year. This will be my fourth year in Scratch Paper and second as an editor. Outside of Scratch Paper, I am highly involved with WTHS Spanish Club and my local chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. I also work at the Warren-Newport Public Library, so don't hesitate to say "hi" if you see me! While I don’t exactly put pen to paper in my role as a writer, I find cursor to document to be second-best. Looking forward to another successful year with you all!