Leaving junior year behind

Elizabeth Madden

Springtime has always been associated with renewal and rebirth. The days get longer, the flowers begin blooming, and animals come out of hibernation. But for students, springtime primarily signifies another school year coming to a close. For us, it represents yearbooks, finals, term papers and Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever).”

The excitement and anticipation for summer is obvious on campus as we begin to plan weekend trips to the beach after what seemed like an endless respite. The temperature rises while our interest in physics and world history, well, drops.

To juniors, especially, the end of this year comes as a huge relief. Junior year is notorious for pushing all juniors to the brink of a nervous breakdown (and believe me, I came close more than a few times). This year, “free time” became an abstract idea, an impossible dream. I honestly do not remember the last time I did not have some sort of school work to do.

So why am I so sad this year is ending?

I can’t help but feel an impending sense of loss. For all the stress and grief that juniors have gone through this year, we’ve come out of it a more united and mature grade. We understand each other more deeply, and take comfort in the fact that we all made it through this year primarily by leaning on each other for emotional support.

There’s something intoxicating about overcoming a challenge that you never thought you would be capable of tackling. It’s a strange mix of gratification, humility and awe.

It’s that feeling that motivates people to train for a triathlon or to attempt to climb Mount Everest;   the chase for that one moment when you finally cross the finish line or reach the summit of the mountain.

Now, I am not trying to compare finishing junior year to climbing Mount Everest, but I still think it’s a pretty big accomplishment for all of us. After hearing about the infamous junior year that struck fear into our hearts for years, we were forced to dive right in and make the best of it, which I think we did.

That’s why I think I’ll miss it. That feeling of a constant state of growth, while typical in adolescence anyway, was palpable this year. The ground kept shifting beneath us, which forced us to be on our toes at all times. It was exhilarating, confusing and terrifying all at once.

Of course, I’m excited to experience senior year with my friends and all the perks that come with it: prom, grad night, being able to go off campus.

I just think that we as a grade have fostered a really unique environment throughout this year, and there is a part of me that is sad to see it go. The upside is that now we know that, as a grade, we are capable of overcoming any obstacle that gets thrown our way, and that, in the end, we’ll all be okay.

So, bring it on, senior year. The Class of 2014 is more than ready for you.