Dear Juniors: Do It For The Ones Who Couldn’t

Dear Juniors: Do It For The Ones Who Couldn't

LFHS New Media

Kailey Albus, Staff Writer

Kailey Albus, Staff Writer

My fellow juniors,

As I begin to write this letter, it feels odd for me to address you all as “juniors.” We’re slowly but surely approaching the latter months of the 2019-2020 school year, and we all know that this title is going to change to “seniors” in the blink of an eye. In a way, it is actually going to change much sooner than we ever anticipated it to. 

And I think I speak for everyone when I say it doesn’t feel right. 

Back in August, I thought I could envision exactly what the end of this school year would look like. We’d be walking down endless hallways that would lead us to our second to last high school summer break. We’d be passing the doorways of every teacher we’ve ever had, every classroom we’ve ever stepped foot in, and we’d look at those doorways with wiser eyes and brighter minds than ever before. We’d rush out of the commons and onto the front lawn, knowing that the next time we do this, we will have destinies to fulfill far beyond the walls of LFHS. 

But before we would even begin to think about our future, we would have the opportunity to watch the Class of 2020 begin their future right in front of our eyes. 

But before we would even begin to think about our future, we would have the opportunity to watch the Class of 2020 begin their future right in front of our eyes.”

We would observe the class as they checked off their final “lasts” of high school: we would watch them dance the night away at their last prom, we would dodge their misfired Nerf bullets from Paranoia, we would even get the chance to clap them out of the building just four years after they were famously “clapped in” to high school. We would see the class we once knew as “sophomores” finally claim the title of “alumni” as their cars filed out of the senior parking lot for the last time, now with a destination far beyond the confines of the North Shore. 

This is the ending that they deserved, yet sadly, this isn’t the ending that is going to play out. 

Last Friday, Govt Pritzker’s decision to keep all Illinois schools closed for the remainder of the academic year startled our state and many others across the nation. Some found it unexpected, some found it predictable; but no one took the news with as much despair as this year’s seniors, who knew that they were going to have to cope with not getting the fairy tale ending that they had hoped for. Nothing but empathy was felt throughout the community for the class of kids who deserved their very own “happily ever after.” 

Of course, when a tragedy as monumental as this strikes a community, no one knows exactly how to respond. But, almost immediately after the announcement, some of the seniors took their emotions to social media, posting an abundance of collages, unfinished “senior videos”, and memories of their final days inside the ivy walls. These moments were poignant, showcasing the regret, sorrow, and confusion each individual student felt towards the devastating circumstances. Yet, they all shared similar intentions: to thank LFHS for giving them the opportunity to grow not only as students, but as well-rounded, intelligent people.

Among this endless sea of gratitude, filled with “take me back”s and “SCO”s galore, one particular post caught my eye. Senior Eleni Ballis, who will be attending Indiana University in the fall, strung together three impromptu “in-class selfies” taken with two of her junior friends and captioned them with the following:

“Dear juniors, kill it your senior year. Do it for the seniors who couldn’t finish. Every football game, party, senior spirit day, powderpuff, paranoia, senior ditch day, prom, graduation, senior prank and many more, do it for the Class of 2020. You truly never know what you have until it’s gone. #sco4ever #blueandgoldtillidie”

Those very words stopped my finger from scrolling any further: “do it for the seniors who couldn’t finish…do it for the Class of 2020…you truly never know what you have until it’s gone.”  

I began to consider my entire high school career: every pep rally I’ve wanted to leave, every class I’ve mindlessly dozed off in, every homecoming I spent standing around instead of dancing. It made me think: if this were to go away right now, if the prospect of my senior year were to be ripped away from me at this very moment, would I regret anything?

And sadly, the answer is yes, I would regret a lot.

If any of you can relate by having even the smallest list of regrets, treat this upcoming year as your ‘do over.’”

I would regret never attending a LFHS sports game outside of football. I would regret never going to a band concert. I would regret never giving a TEDxLFHS talk. I would regret never being a teacher’s assistant. I would regret never completing the baby unit in Advanced Health. I would regret never going on the Outdoor Education camping trip. I would regret never trying the wing toss on Fridays in the cafeteria. I would regret never getting a smoothie from The Grind. I would regret never attending a CROYA meeting. I would regret leaving early from my freshman year winter formal. I would regret not attending my sophomore year homecoming dance or even the Friday night football game preceding it. I would regret every spirit day I didn’t participate in, even if I would have been embarrassed in the moment. I would regret only going to one Women’s Club meeting my freshman year and never going back. I would regret never joining a band for Talent Show, never taking advantage of the HRC, never getting to say “thank you” to my teachers. 

I would regret a lot, all because I didn’t have the courage to fearlessly show my love for LFHS.

Juniors, we entered high school in a time that lacked school spirit more than ever. The classes before us were notorious for speaking negatively about both in and out of school events; it’s no surprise that we have been accustomed to their very same feelings. We were taught that dances were meant to be left early, that Prom Court was supposed to be a joke, that pep rallies were destined to be ditched. Coming into high school, we had no idea what “Scout Pride” was supposed to look like, and while I think — as a Class ―  we’ve certainly worked at restoring our morale, our “Scout Pride” is nowhere near where it could be.

But now more than ever, with a global pandemic ripping away the Class of 2020’s last chance to show off their “Scout Pride,” we need to raise the expectations when it comes to not only showing school spirit, but demonstrating a genuine passion for all LFHS has to offer. The stigma surrounding the idea of participation, the pit in our stomachs we often face when we show enthusiasm, the fear of judgment we dread when being asked to profess our love for our school, all of it should be trumped by the thought of never being a Scout again. If the sudden closing of our school has taught us anything, it’s that LFHS is too important to lose–just ask the Class of 2020.

If any of you can relate by having even the smallest list of regrets, treat this upcoming year as your “do over.” Attend a game for the sport you didn’t know existed, go see a play even if you’re not getting extra credit for it, stay for the whole duration of the dance, join that club filled with people whom you don’t know, stay after class and just talk with that teacher, make your famous chocolate chip cookies for that bake sale, go all out on your Prom outfit, enjoy your time off campus for lunch, but make sure to come back just in time for class. Do it all before you lose the opportunity to do it again. 

The stigma surrounding the idea of participation, the pit in our stomachs we often face when we show enthusiasm, the fear of judgment we dread when being asked to profess our love for our school, all of it should be trumped by the thought of never being a Scout again.”

But, juniors, try to remember that while you should do it all for your own enjoyment, don’t do it in vain–do it for the Class of 2020. Do all of it, with no regrets, with no fears, with an endless love for LFHS in your hearts. Do it for the ones who couldn’t; do it for the ones who were so viciously thrown into their adult lives without any warning or ability to change it. Show them that all of their feelings are valid: that their regrets, their fondest memories, and their actions will always be remembered. 

Show them that they don’t need a traditional end of high school experience to imprint their legacies on LFHS–they have already made their mark on us in every way possible.

So while the end of the 2019-2020 school year is not going to look exactly as I envisioned it, I will make it my goal to have this unfortunate change fuel my fire in August. I’ll live out my senior year to the fullest, making sure I’ve hit every regret and turned it into a memory. I will fearlessly adjust to the responsibilities and expectations of being a senior, even with the aftermath of a global pandemic looming over my head.

And I will do it all to honor the ones who couldn’t, because that’s the least I can do to thank the Class of 2020 for all they’ve sacrificed.     

I sincerely hope that you’ll join me in doing the same.

 

Forever yours,

 

Kailey Albus