By Kayla Smithgall
When I entered SHS for my last first day of high school, I was thrilled. I was finally a senior. I knew my way around the school. I was known by most of the staff. People moved out of my way; I didn’t have to move out of theirs. I only had nine short months until I could be done and move on.
I held that attitude for about the first three months of senior year.
On Nov. 12, my family and I went to the state playoff football game between Sterling and Bayfield. With only two minutes left, and Bayfield leading 41-0, my dad said, “Alright, let’s go.”
“Dad, can we please stay?” I said.
“Come on, Kayla. Seriously? There is no chance of us winning,” he replied.
My dad didn’t understand, and at the time, I didn’t understand why I wanted to stay either. But looking back on that day, I realized that was the first day that it finally hit me.
I was a senior. I was six months away from leaving the school I had gone to since 2013. I would soon leave the staff that knew me so well and would meet an entirely new and unfamiliar staff at my next school. I would once again become the freshman that had to move out of the seniors’ way. I would have to wander the halls of an unfamiliar school and pray I didn’t get lost.
I wanted to stay at that football game so badly because it would be the last high school game I would ever see. Sure, I can go to a football game this fall, but it won’t be the same. If I went, I wouldn’t see the class of 2017 standing in the first few rows and I wouldn’t be watching my classmates play.
Senior year is great until the moment of realization of what comes after graduation hits you.
After I graduate, I will no longer be able to buy cookies from the Tiger Kibble cart. I can’t get dolled up for Homecoming or Prom dances. I can’t participate in spirit week, no matter how lame or strange I think the theme days are. I won’t be the editor of The Bengal Cry. I won’t see my brother’s familiar face in the hall. I will no longer go to classes with people I’ve known since elementary school.
When you’re a senior, you go through a rollercoaster of emotions. One day, you are beyond ready to get out and the next day, you’re scared to leave. You have a panic attack when you think about how you’re going to make it on your own.
But you know what? It’s possible. I won’t end up homeless after I graduate. I’ll go to college and bond with the people there and have similar experiences to the ones I’ve had the last four years at this school. There will be differences, I’m sure, between the schools. They will be both good and bad differences, but I’m ready for them.
Someone asked me one day what I had learned during my time at SHS and at first, I was going to say nothing. But when I looked back, I have truly learned so many lessons, both big and small, over the last four years.
I have changed a lot since my freshmen year, and I’m so thankful for it. I will leave high school, ready for college and the real world. I’m ready for my next adventure to begin.