Another Kind of Senioritis

By Margaret Mattes
I will admit it: fall (and school) is fast approaching. The evenings are becoming chilly enough to necessitate a light sweater, every other commercial on the radio is advertising back-to-school sales, and clothing stores are beginning to show plaid and wool in their windows. I actually have to care about what I look like when I go into town because the sidewalks are no longer filled with tourists who I will never see again, but with my classmates and teachers who have returned from vacations in exotic places. For me, as a senior at Princeton High School, this school year marks the end of a stage of life and the beginning of a new one.
Everyone around me, family and friends, keeps telling me they cannot believe how old I am. No one seems aware though that I cannot either. I feel like yesterday was my first, chaotic day of high school, and the day before was fourth grade. All of a sudden I am preparing college essays and reflecting on my seventeen years of life, which have seemed to me like seventeen moments. I look to those who are older than me, especially those friends who graduated last year, and feel so small and so immature compared to them, however, only a year ago, they were in my shoes.
Yet, senior year is here and with it, a lot of good times and a whole lot of headaches.
Walking around town and the PHS campus, which is currently teeming with athletes from pre-season and students who are very unhappy with their schedules, I am struck by the fact that there is no one older than me for the first time in my life. I am the most experienced, the most knowledgeable, and the most confident. And with that comes a lot of responsibility. I am so eager to serve as a role model for younger students, especially in extracurriculars, where I can try to help and reassure freshmen and sophomores, just as seniors did for me when I was younger. I think about how much I looked up to veteran seniors when I was an underclassman, and can only dream that someone will think of me in that way.
Of course, senior year is not all about sharing happiness and self-assurance. Most seniors’ minds are currently obsessed (or trying to avoid) the topic of college. Everyone is discussing the essays to write, the teacher recommendations to organize, and the List, which refers to the list of colleges to which one is applying. Everyone knew that on August 1st, the day the Common Application went online, our lives for the next nine months would be forever changed. As I started filling it out, I was amazed. I have been obsessing about college for about six years and yet, all these schools want me to do is write one essay. I feel as though the amount of effort I have put into thinking about my next step after high school is enough for me to write a modern version of War and Peace, instead I have to settle for five hundred words.
And perhaps the hardest part of grasping the reality of my last year of high school is that, after this school year, I will never be a PHS student again. Over the past four years, the school has become my life. I spend many more of my waking hours in those hallways and classrooms than I do at home. My friends, my activities, my thoughts, my work, all are centered on Princeton High School and I love it.
Thus, as I walk into school on Tuesday for the first day of classes, it will be with mixed emotions. On the one hand, summer is amazing and I hate to see it end. But on the other hand, I love my life at school and even though it will be my final year at Princeton High School, I am dedicated to making it the best yet.