To GMHS seniors, a year of lasts delivers new firsts

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Amid the cooler mornings, shifting leaves and decreasing hours of daylight, one undoubtable signal indicated the closing hours of summer: yard signs, scattered throughout town, boldly asserting this message: “First Day of School, August 29.”

 For GMHS seniors, festivities marking their celebrated year began a day earlier, when countless students flocked to the school parking lot to add a personal flair to their parking spaces. Empowered by boxes of chalk and their own artistic license, each student demonstrated that the latter exists across a wide spectrum. The following morning, senior year arrived with the reminder of its short-lived nature, welcoming GMHS seniors to their “last,” first day of school.

In a year of lasts, several emotions prevail. For many students, excitement for the future is at the forefront of their minds. For others, nostalgia floods their memories while others embark on another year seemingly unbothered. From kindergarten to high school, many of the same faces contributed to the same routines and the same experiences year upon year. If all these years of schooling were to be compared to a musical, it would be at this moment, following 13 years of auditioning, rehearsing, and taking the stage, that the curtain would begin to close.

With the consistency of many of the same friends, expectations, and role models, a year of lasts inspires several new firsts. As is the case with most seniors, this writer included, perhaps the reality of setting out toward their own future feels as though it is in short grasp for the first time. Familiar with interacting with the same people, commuting to the same buildings, and resorting to the same routine of sports and extracurricular activities, high school seniors are in a place where first impressions mean more than anything.

Any senior who has encountered a college essay prompt will associate with the feeling. Following 13 years of sameness, where it was natural to become the best version of yourself among a group of people who knew who you were, it might be considered daunting to advertise yourself to people who don’t know you; to people whose judgment of you exists only in what they can read about you. And to many seniors, this year of lasts brings that first time questioning who they really are, and who they want to be. As a third grader, this writer remembers fearing the future. This writer yearned to go back to the since-closed Kearns primary school, to people who knew him, and to people he knew would nurture his shyness and his hatred for sharing his own work with others. Safe to say things worked out alright.

In essence, senior year deserves to be celebrated. In idiomatic fashion, senior year epitomizes the idea that as one door closes, another door opens. Yet just as one door closes, it does not mean it has to be known what the other door hides, or that we are necessarily ready for the first door to shut us out. But it is this uncertainty, this apprehension, and perhaps most importantly the question for whether we are ready to embark on the next stage of our lives that makes the opening of that second door as important as it will ever be.

This writer is not in third grade anymore, nor are his peers. With that, bring on the lasts; the last games, last tests, and last field trips. When that door closes, these “lasts” will be the first thing that seniors remember when entering the next phase of their lives.