Reflecting before graduate

Senior Julia Gerard will attend University of Missouri and major in journalism.
Photo courtesy of Julia Gerard


Senior Julia Gerard will attend University of Missouri and major in journalism. Photo courtesy of Julia Gerard

Julia Gerard, News Editor

As the senior News Editor, I have known that I would be writing  a column for the May newspaper issue since the beginning of the school year, but I did not truly realize how quickly that time would come. This year has flown by much like my entire high school career. 

As a freshman, I remember my friend’s older brothers and sisters would tell me how fast high school would come and go, but I just brushed it off. One does not realize how correct they were until you are seated in my position. 

Like the rest of the senior class, I only really had one “normal” year of high school: my freshman year. Thinking back, I do not remember much of it. I knew that this would be a fresh slate from middle school, and I had so much time ahead of me. I could not wait to get involved in different clubs and activities as well as attending the homecoming dance.  

Being the typical introverted  15 year old, I was even so self conscious during my early high school years that I had a whole separate music playlist I would listen to at school with popular songs that I did not even like simply because I was scared someone would overhear and judge my actual music taste. 

The first semester of sophomore year went as any school year would go; the standard classes, making new friends, attempting to stay on top of homework, but then Covid was introduced to the world. I remember first hearing about the pandemic and making jokes to my friends about it, unaware of the seriousness of the illness. We thought that it would be something that would make headlines for a week then go away as quickly as it came. Still taking precautions, I did not hesitate to bring an array of hand sanitizers to school the next day.  

Beginning March 17, 2020, when schools across America shuttered their doors, my sophomore year fell to shambles. 

The news broke that school would be off for the next two weeks because of the virus and cheers rang from throughout my class. Little did we know that we would be off of school as we knew it  for the next year and a half.

Junior year did not even feel like a school year at all. I was fully online. Instead of a classroom setting, I woke up five minutes before my first Zoom meeting, set up my desk space and powered on my laptop, camera aimed at the ceiling, of course. A year of solitude, as I like to call it.

Not everyone enjoyed the limited face to face contact that we all endured. I cannot say that it was my favorite either, but I learned a lot about myself in my time alone.

I discovered new music, experimented with my clothing style and really sought to discover myself as an individual. I had new ideas that were my own; unswayable from anyone else’s. The isolation was not fun, but I think I really needed it. It was during these months, I began to fall in love with being in my own company, which is something that I believe everyone needs to achieve.

I really experimented with my new sense of identity over the course of the summer leading into senior year. It was then when I started to truly reflect back and realize how much I had changed since freshman and sophomore year. I no longer cared what anyone thought of me; the way I dressed, the way I did my make-up, the music I listened to and the things I liked that  I enjoyed for myself only because they made me happy. Looking back, I was very proud of myself.

I carried this mindset with me into my senior year, and it has only continued to grow. For one thing, my hair is pink- something I would have thought as inconceivable my freshman or sophomore year out of fear. I stepped out of my comfort zone, making new friends and so many wonderful memories that I will keep with me for years to come. 

Reflecting back on all of my high school years is sentimental for me just to see how much I have grown and changed. My final words of advice is to really think back and step out of your shell- do what makes you happy.