Dear High School Seniors… (an open letter from a graduate)

Dear High School Seniors, class of 2018,

I just had a weird dream. Maybe to you it will sound like a nightmare, though. I dreamt that I was back at my high school with a neatly-printed, seven-class schedule full of the AP classes and electives that I thought I had finally finished years ago. About to enter my third year of college, though, the dream was sort of comforting. It was so vivid. I saw my high school squad, my regular lunch table, my favorite teachers, the familiar hallways… And I knew that, at the end of the day, I would return home to my mom’s cooking, my brother and my dad shouting at sports on TV, my dog’s waggling tail…

Enjoy it.

That’s really my only reason for writing this letter, to tell you to enjoy every seemingly-eternal moment of your final year of high school. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now, thinking your senioritis is already bad and you’ll have no fun aside from prom this year.

You’re wrong.

I had senioritis like crazy; in fact, I think I caught it my sophomore year of high school. But that is no excuse for letting your senior year slide by without working hard and making memories.

Study hard. You’re going to hate it and pray for the end, but study hard. You’re teachers have likely already told you that college is worse, but you’ll find that college can be surprisingly manageable if you push yourself in high school. You don’t have to load yourself with AP classes like I did (I said “work hard” not “stress yourself out”) but show up, take notes, turn in every assignment, and prepare for tests in whatever classes you do take.

Connect with your teachers. Not only is this helpful for getting letters of recommendation/references for your resume, it can be fun! Strange as it sounds, with each graduating class, teachers get senioritis too. Laugh at it and enjoy getting to know your teachers as more than just lecturers with red pens. One of my favorites brought us peanut butter and bologna sandwiches, swearing she used to love them in college. They were terrible, but it was a fun memory and I’ll never forget that literature class.

Stay connected with your friends. I admit that most of my high school friends have become just Facebook friends. I still care for them and pray for them and love seeing what amazing things they are up to, but I have only a small circle of high school friends that I still talk to regularly. Hang onto your best friends for dear life, but don’t stop making new friends just because it’s almost the end. Three of my best friends I did not truly get to know until my senior year and two of them I barely spoke to until the last three months. Still, we ended up becoming a #Squad. 😉

Go to prom…or don’t. I didn’t want to go to prom and to be honest, I did not enjoy the dance. If a loud, sweaty room full of screaming peers appeals to you, go for it. But one of the best nights of my high school existence was eating ice cream and playing board games with my squad after spending only twenty minutes at the actual dance. Either way, make memories and be safe. I know, I sound like a mom, but I had to say it.

Keep volunteering. Sure, you’re leaving and probably wishing you could be up and gone already, but don’t stop giving back to your school and community. Volunteer for choir council, set up for events, go on outreach days, help at tutoring. Don’t just do it to fill up hours on your service record, do it to leave your school a better place. Love it or hate it, your high school has been your home now for almost four years; show it and its members some kindness.

As you count down the days until graduation, try not to just breeze by, zoning out and wishing the seconds would go faster. In three years, when you’re about to head back to your out-of-state college, you’ll find yourself (almost) missing the days when the farthest from home you had to drive was ten minutes to school, maybe fifteen if you went for snacks afterwards.

Maybe you read all the way to the end of this letter or maybe your senioritis kept you from skimming past the first paragraph. Better, maybe you’re saving brain power for essays. Either way, just know that this might end up being one of the best years of your life. I sincerely hope that it isn’t the best year, because there is a vast, exciting world out there beyond graduation. But, I promise that if you keep your head in the game (High School Musical becomes cool again in college…no lie), this year will zoom by and, before you know it, you’ll be walking off the football field with your diploma in hand and your future ahead of you.

Have an excellent year, class of 2018! Finish strong!

Sincerely (and a bit nostalgically),

A class of 2015 grad

 

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On Senioritis (and also brownies)

Upon entering this year, I thought that I was prepared to face that dread combination of restlessness, fatigue, and frustration that has been plaguing high school seniors since the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of secondary education). I was wrong and realize now, having forsaken productivity for a few hours to breathe for the first time since winter break, that senioritis is worse than I could ever have predicted.

Granted, I am not ditching school, I still do my homework, and remain relatively active. However, I cannot shake off that feeling of restless tension that I know everyone else in the class of 2015 is feeling. But there is hope! Not to sound like some radio-show therapist, but recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

So what causes senioritis? In a word, EVERYTHING. We are caught in a hormonal limbo between adulthood and childhood. We are expected to go out and get jobs, apply for college, plan for a future, and yet also told to enjoy our teenage years as children before we have to enter the “real world” post-graduation. Is it any wonder that we are stressed? We are caught between two worlds: we look at the kids at our schools and wonder if we ever could have been that small, while at the same time we have no idea how to handle the world that we are about to be plunged into.

And yet, we are longing for that plunge; we can’t wait to get out of high school because, as scary as the future may be, it is better than this awkward limbo. That said, the only definite cure for senioritis is a high school diploma.

This cure will be administered soon enough, but we have a hectic two months ahead of us first and must find temporary remedies to keep us sane until that glorious day: graduation.

So, here are five ways to ease your symptoms of senioritis while you count down the days until May 21st.

1. Be a Kid

Like I said, we are caught in a limbo between childhood and adulthood, but the good thing about this limbo is that it is okay to be a kid still! Sometimes you need to just forget your future planning for a little while and play tag at a park, break out some coloring books, or rewatch old Disney movies. I know that even five minutes of swinging on the swings at the park by my house made me feel much better!

My friends and I went for a picnic and threw water balloons at each other. You are never too old to play at the park!

My friends and I went for a picnic and threw water balloons at each other. You are never too old to play at the park!

2. Make Something

Creativity has a way of refocusing our minds and also has the added benefit of being productive without being stressful. I personally enjoy painting and composing and although I rarely finish anything, it calms me to put my mind to a single task rather than the bazillion obligations of senior year. Even just singing a song at the top of your voice or typing up a rambling blog post (guilty…) can do wonders.

Pinterest fails are still creative...maybe...

Pinterest fails are still creative…maybe…

3. Treat Yourself!

If ever there was a time for chocolate, this is it. Emotions are at a constant high and stress is at a dangerous level, so allow yourself to enjoy a favorite treat or, even better, try a new one! I have been living off of Starbucks (Grande coconut milk latte: thank you Chris the Latte Boy!) and froyo, but today decided to mix it up and throw together an original brownie recipe. To put it simply, it is HEAVENLY and took only about 15 minutes to throw together, plus the awesome fact that it include tons of antioxidants due to the coconut oil! I will include the recipe at the bottom of this post. 🙂

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4. Spend Time with Friends

This seems like an obvious one, but in the business of this time of year, it is easy to forget to include socializing in your packed schedule, and waving at your friend from across the classroom during second hour does not count as socializing. So whether it means getting together to study, going out to cry over ice cream together, or even just talking on the phone for a bit, make time to reach out to your pals. And (I know this will sound blasphemous) sometimes an afternoon at the mall with your best friend is worth more in the long run than a day of cramming. (Disclaimer: a day of studying with your best friend might be better than both…#nerdlife)

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5. Keep this in Perspective

Yes, senioritis stinks. It is no fun for anyone. Goodness, even my teachers seem ready to collapse! (My AP Lit. teacher made us cookies today to cheer us, and herself, up…thanks Mrs. Plunk!) However, as difficult as this is, it too shall pass. In a few months, you probably won’t even remember all of the frustrations of this year. Maybe you’ll even look back on high school with- dare I say it?- fondness. A friend of mine recently shared a Bible verse with me that has been extremely encouraging as I face each day:

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us

an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  

-2 Corinthians 4:17

Soon you will no longer be a senior. You will hold your diploma in your hand and once more be a freshman, a newbie to the world of college and adulthood. Your senioritis will be cured and your future stretched out before you. In the meantime, play, laugh, eat, and most of all, enjoy these next two months.

Senioritis Salvation Brownies: “It’s like graduation in your mouth!” 

Update: I just tried one (or four...) and they are the best from-scratch brownies I have ever had!

Update: I just tried one (or four…) and they are the best from-scratch brownies I have ever had!

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut oil (Full of healthy fats and antioxidants, so clearly this is health food!)

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips (any kind, but I used milk chocolate)

 Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (For all of you studying for AP Chemistry, this is degrees Fahrenheit, not Kelvin or Celsius.)

2. Mix coconut oil, eggs, flour, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Coconut oil may be clumpy, but will become liquid quickly with heat. I put the bowl in the oven for about two minutes to soften it and that seemed to work just fine.

3. Add salt, baking powder, cocoa, vanilla and chocolate chips. Mix well and pour into an 8×8 inch pan. Optional: keep half of the batter to eat. If you do, be warned that your brownies may be thinner than you expected, but I assure you that (risk of salmonella aside), this is worth it; the batter was downright delectable!

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes. I recommend checking on them at 30 minutes and letting them continue to bake for additional time if the top is still super squishy. (I’ve been watching a lot of Cupcake Wars lately, so I can verify that this is the proper baking technique…)

5. Let sit until they can be cleanly cut.

6. Sneak a bite of the edges every time you walk by the kitchen and maybe share some actual brownies with your fellow seniors.

Bon appetit! And good luck on the rest of your year!