Senior Reflection: The Bare Necessities of Life, By Michela Schenk


Michela Schenk, Editor

It is now the time of year where each student, regardless of grade, will be bombarded with advice from your teachers, counselors, neighbors, grandparents, and 3rd cousin twice removed on your father’s side; but I would like to give you all just a couple items I think you really need to ensure you have on your packing list for college (if you are a senior) or in your back pocket for those of you still at Warren, in order to fully appreciate life. I would love to impart the “Bare necessities of life”. Not Baloo the bear’s necessities, but the ones I learned here at Warren Township.

So here they are:

  1. Pair of shoes that fit just right
  2. 2 Coffee Cups
  3. A good pen
  4. A sticker buddy

While some of you may have given a little side eye to that last suggestion, and I’m sure the tea drinkers reading this have had some of their feathers ruffled by the suggestion of their opposition, but I assure you, there is a valid explanation for each of these essentials to life. Let’s get into what I learned are our most important things in life during my 4 years of high school.

The first essential of life I listed is a good pair of shoes that fits just right. If asked, any athlete will corroborate this fact. Many of us have a specific brand of shoes we’re attached to. Take running for instance, you’ve got the diehard Hoka fans, the Nike runners, the Brooks fans, and the Asics supporters. If you were to ask a runner what type of shoes they like I’m sure they could immediately tell you the brand and model they swear by. But figuring out which brand fits your needs isn’t always a painless process. In my high school running career, I have rotated through nikes, then brooks, and have finally settled into my asics as my go-to brand. It took lots of blisters, uncomfort, and time to find the perfect set for me. 

This translates perfectly to life. Before high school, I thought for sure I would stay friends with the 3 friends I had in middle school. But over the past 4 years I have tried out different activities, different personalities, different groups till I found one that stuck. The changes I underwent in my freshman and sophomore years are what kept me open to engaging with new people in my junior and senior years. 

My time here at Warren has taught me we must all remember to keep an open mind and heart during our search for the right fit. You cannot find which shoe fits best without trying on the ones that don’t work. To graduates and current high schoolers alike, I would advise that you try out different activities and meet new people in pursuit of your new selves. Bare Necessity number 1: Be open to finding the shoes that fit just right.

Number 2: Always have two coffee cups. I myself collect coffee cups; I work at a coffee shop, I have a coffee addiction, so I do believe there is a definite credibility in this piece of advice I’m about to give you. No matter where you move, always keep 2 coffee cups easily accessible, because offering a cup of coffee is the quickest route to connection.

(Half of my coffee cup collection, which totals 56 cups right now.)

In my freshman year, we had connection brutally stripped from us. When we thought we gained two extra weeks of spring break, we were instead trapped in the purgatory of our own homes. Our bedrooms became solitary confinement. Our torture: the crushing silence of break out rooms on zoom. It was bad. I’ll be the first to admit that online school left me feeling lonely and tired. I’m sure many others can relate when I say I was well and truly depressed during this time. As a species we crave connection. It’s something we are programmed to seek out at birth. Being suddenly cut off from all our friends and teachers was devastating.

In the spring and summer of 2020, my freshman year English teacher reached out to me. While we couldn’t meet in person we could each drink our cups of coffee from our respective couches and catch up over zoom. Sitting and sipping on coffee and comfortable conversation saved me. I realized at that moment just how important sharing a cup of coffee could be. To this day, I find the best conversations I have had, have been ones held while enjoying a cup of coffee or chai with others. 

Now that the class of 2023 is leaving grade school, I know many of us will face moments where the loneliness is reminiscent of what we felt during COVID. When we feel alone in the next year, I encourage you to remember all you need are two cups and the guts to ask someone to chat. When homesickness racks your body, pull out a coffee cup or your drink of choice and facetime a friend from high school. When you move out of your parents house, get deployed, or change jobs just remember that peace and connection can be found by just sitting in your PJ’s  on the phone with a friend and a cup of coffee warming you from the inside out. 

The 3rd Bare necessity that Warren taught me was the importance of a good pen. My favorite pen is the Pilot G2-07 pen in the purple shade. I like this type of pen because I think that red pens when editing can appear a tad abrasive and aggressive. A purple pen accomplishes the same necessary changes with a slightly softer delivery.

(Image extracted from an article by the HuffPost about the poor effects on grading in red pen.)

As a young kid, I was a major perfectionist. Any time I saw a red marking from a teacher on my assignment I would feel immediately discouraged. My 5th grade math teacher noticed the funk I would get myself into after seeing one silly mistake and decided to teach me a lesson. Get comfortable with failure. She took my next math test and marked every question wrong. She dropped it on my desk and plopped down next to me and said “Don’t cry just fix it!”. Don’t cry, just fix it. Easier said than done.

I sat for 30 minutes trying to find mistakes that didn’t actually exist. Afterwards, she pulled me aside and explained she wanted me to get comfortable failing so I could look for solutions. In one of my English classes here at Warren, a teacher once said that by not editing our work we were doing a great disservice to the world, as the world would never see our full potential. This lesson really stuck with me. You see in life we must find the mistakes we’ve made, or the areas we need to grow in, and make the necessary changes. When a red squiggly line is underlining a part of our life, it is our duty to ourselves and the world to fix it.

In the next year, I can guarantee that each and every one of us (graduate or not) will make a mistake…will fail a test… will break someone’s heart… or will do the wrong thing. But as adult citizens(or near-adult) of this world, we must edit the errors of our ways. So, wherever you go, bring a purple pen so that you can edit your life with kindness and intention that will bring about a magnificent end to your story. 

The final and arguably most important bare necessity of life that I have learned from my time here at Warren is that every one of us needs a sticker buddy. What is a sticker buddy? You might ask. A sticker buddy is the hype man of your life. 

Who here remembers the good’ ole days of naps and snacktime? Well do you also remember the excitement and pride each one of us had the moment our teachers stuck a sticker on our paper? I know for a fact most of you reading are immediately transported back to those fun little scratch and sniff stickers.

In my senior year sociology class, I told my teacher how much I missed getting those stickers on my paper. It wasn’t exactly the fact that I need a reward to do work; it was more the fact that when someone else noticed all of your hard work culminating and they celebrated that, well, it made pride blossom in my chest. The next day, my sociology teacher gave me a sticker for getting 5 hours of sleep(which is more than my typical amount). She acknowledged what may seem like a small win, and showed me how proud she was of even my small wins. This year I learned to celebrate small wins, just as much as we celebrate big feats. If I could give each and every one of you a sticker right now, I would. It would be for all your small wins leading up to today. It would be for those hard days you dreaded getting out of bed. It would be for the first steps you took on the court after an injury. It would be for the smile you put on the faces of your friends on a Monday morning. 

My hope for the class of 2023 and anybody bored enough to read my entire reflection, is that you guys try out new shoes, and find your fit. I hope you always carry a second coffee cup and invite connection. I hope you edit your stories, instead of letting failures run them. And I hope you find a sticker buddy. Somebody in your life there to hype up wins, both big and small.

Warren Township has taught me that with these 4 items in our back pocket, we will be just fine, wherever the future takes us.