Being a senior isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Emma Peters

Freshmen pray for the day that they aren’t fish food. Sophomores beg to be upperclassmen. Juniors are jittery to escape the compounding stress of standardized tests. The only flicker of light at the end of the tunnel is the knowledge of having unquestioned superiority senior year.

The student body has this fantasy that senior year of high school is the peak of the teenage years, outfitted with senior jerseys, screeching whistles, and red caps and gowns.

Without even trying, seniors become the next Simba of Pride Rock, the Regina George of the Plastics, or even the Ferris Bueller of their respective high school.

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Even with all the benefits of seniority, like signing yourself out when you turn eighteen and dominating the Homecoming rally, I miss having the opportunity as an underclassmen to look up to an older class. As a senior, there is no peer from a higher grade level to guide you through the last year of high school.

My most vivid memory of looking up to a senior is during my freshman orientation. My Link Crew leader was outstanding, as she had the ability to de-stress her group and excite them with all of the possibilities our high school had to offer.

She was the first person to quell my fear that upperclassmen forced freshman to pay money to go up the stairs and the first to ward me away from the cafeteria’s “mystery meat” chicken nuggets. She taught us bits of the school fight song, instilling in me a sense of school spirit and pride. We hardly spoke afterwards, but my memory of that day is still clear after three years.

As an underclassmen, I was given advice by seniors on more than just academics. Observing how they act or what they gossip about can be a simple way to learn unexpected lessons on the dangers of certain alcoholic beverages and how to avoid dating debacles.

Junior year, I admired the way my senior friends outgrew their childish underclassman tendencies and naturally matured in personality, opinion, and pursuits.  These relationships gave me an example path to follow as I also grew up.

Now that I’m a senior, I’ve realized how lonely it can be on top. As I push through the hallways, the familiar older faces that I once looked up to have vanished, replaced with those who now look to me, the cool, experienced senior, for guidance.

After the older students graduate, the main source of advice now falls upon the teachers. Teachers may be available for brief recounts of wisdom, but they can’t give the nuanced advice you receive while bonding over a physiology rat dissection or driving to In-&-Out for your first lunch outside the cafeteria.

Senior year is a mixture of nostalgia and excitement for the future, and I will miss sharing these feelings with those who were in a higher grade than me.
While I feel unprepared for the responsibility the final year of high school places upon me, I know that the best way to thank the previous senior classes is to maintain the standard of the senior role model. In the end, that role is more important than the social perks of being on the top of the food chain.