Student to student | ParkRecord.com

Student to student

Audrey Harnagel, PCHS Intern

As graduation approaches, Park City High School seniors begin one of the biggest transition periods of their lives. This is a rare moment when past, present and future all converge in a goodbye ceremony for the class of 2012.

For me, the last few weeks have been a time to reflect on the lessons that I have learned in high school, the relationships I have built, and the ever-growing person I have become. I have also been considering what insights I want to pass on to my younger brother, Elliott, as he enters high school.

Elliott, I hope you and your classmates embrace this message throughout high school and life: never look to others to tell you what to think. Trying to live up to someone else’s desires or expectations only leads to disappointment and wasted time. Define your morals, your expectations and your dreams before you make choices so they reflect what you truly believe. Take every opportunity to learn and grow, because without those experiences you will never know who you are.

While all of us have learned lessons that will follow us well beyond high school, there are some tips and tricks that will help underclassmen navigate PCHS. The nuts and bolts of high school are still scary to many upcoming students (much like the nuts and bolts of college are scary to most of us seniors) so, I have compiled the secrets to success from some of the highest achievers in the Class of 2012.

The best and most fundamental advice we have for younger students is: don’t be afraid to challenge yourself! This is true for all areas of your life including academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. pushing yourself you will learn so much more than taking the easy way out. And, don’t be daunted by the prospect of a heavy class load or a packed schedule, there are plenty of people to help you along the way.

When you begin to struggle (and you inevitably will), never be afraid to ask for help. We all have those nights where we feel helplessly lost (calculus anyone?). Your teachers and fellow students are here to help you succeed, so take advantage of them.

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"1050/1060 was so hard for me, but I basically went to Math Lab after school until like six o’clock every week before tests. It wasn’t very fun, but it paid off in the end and I did well," said senior Lexie Maschoff.

Your teachers are often your best advocates. Don’t be afraid to get to know them; it will make your classes easier, more personal, and much more fun.

"You’re going to need those people who can vouch for you sometimes. It helps a lot to have your teachers on your side," said Westrate.

Outside of school, get involved. If you are "too cool" to go to a school dance or join a club, you are only cutting yourself off from opportunities.

"Throughout my high school career I’ve been involved in clubs and have gone to sporting events and school dances… It has made my experience so much better. You establish relationships with people you wouldn’t otherwise, and you get to know what high school is all about," said Maschoff.

Seniors are getting nostalgic about the years we’ve spent together. Whether you were born and raised in Park City or have only spent a few years here, everyone has memories of high school worth cherishing.

"Really enjoy high school. It does fly by, and right now I’m looking back and I’m like, ‘really I’m a senior? I’m graduating?’" said senior Andrew Method.

"Graduation is really something that you can’t imagine until you’re here. It’s hard to balance between being excited to move on and looking back on the good memories you’ve had, and figuring out how you’re going to incorporate that into who you are about to become. I think this is a weird time in most seniors’ lives," said senior Rachel Westrate.

As a class, we have compiled our share of life lessons in 18 years. Each senior I talked to had something valuable to say whether it was advice to underclassmen, or adages they will take with them to college. Many talked about focusing on the big picture and not sweating the small stuff.

"Although it’s important to maintain a strong work ethic, above all make sure you keep a solid perspective on what’s important in life," said senior Sam Scudder.

This lesson hit home for many during the college application process. For others, realizing the value of personal health helped put life into perspective.

"I used to be on the tennis team and tennis was my passion, it was my life, but I had a really awful injury which ended up with four knee surgeries. After that, it was hard to focus on anything but my health. That was when I realized how much bigger everything in my life was than just the dramas of my friends," said senior Erin Carmichael.

While we reflect on the past, and even offer a few snippets of helpful advice, most of us are looking toward the future. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, many of us are, to steal a phrase from one of our beloved seniors, "tweaked out" about the idea of leaving home and starting a new life.

"The idea of living on my own is pretty scary. You’re surrounded by thousands of students but you’re kind of all by yourself. It’s the first time that you are really in charge of you," said Westrate.

College anxieties aside, we have yet to encounter this kind of freedom and opportunity in our young lives. While independence is daunting, it is also liberating. Most of us are invigorated by the opportunity to focus our interests and define our own paths independent of parents.

"I’m looking forward to studying things extensively and diving deep into the subjects that I enjoy without wasting time on requirements and math and stuff like that," said senior Caleb Diehl.

The past and future will intersect this Friday, but while we are sentimental about old memories and ecstatic about the promise of new ones, let’s not forget the present. Graduation is a lot like crossing a street, it’s important to look both ways, but in the end you just have to walk.