EDITORIAL: Reflecting on my junior year


Skyler Simpson

The steps you take in 11th grade will greatly determine your future.

As the final weeks of my junior year of high school come upon me, I’ve been spending some time reflecting over the 2018-2019 school year. It’s been a hard year, undoubtedly, but it’s also been my biggest year of growth. And no, I don’t just mean academically.

During my sophomore year, I remember people always telling me to gear up for the hard times ahead. I wasn’t really focused on preparing for the future, to be quite honest. Instead, I was trying to place all my attention on getting through 10th grade. The things people told me about junior year went in one ear and out the other.

I should have listened.

It’s safe to say that my 11th grade year has been unlike any other grade I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t think it was going to be easy, of course, but I didn’t anticipate all the challenges I would have to face.

Academically, it’s been the most challenging and stimulating year yet. I took my first AP class – Language and Composition – which was quite the undertaking. The workload wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but the content we covered was, at times, pretty difficult to grasp.

On the flip side, it was the most fascinating class I’ve ever taken. We learned a vast amount, from things like transcendentalism to eminent domain. I never expected for an English class to cover such deep, interesting things, as opposed to the usual grammar and vocabulary of years past.

Well, we still had to learn that stuff, but it wasn’t too bad overall.

In complete contrast to English, Chemistry was the most strenuous course of the year. As someone who tends to lean towards the English/History spectrum, classes like Math and Science aren’t my forte.

If you’re struggling in a course, please talk to your teachers. Chances are, they’ll be happy to help. I really wish I reached out to my Chem teacher in the first semester, but alas, I let myself drown in confusion until the 3rd marking period. Don’t be like me.

Another point of contention this year was my social life. Last year, I was pretty much only involved with my middle school friends. I’m still friends with a few of them, but this year, the social dynamic shifted a little bit. I noticed that people were becoming more open to being friends with individuals outside their group, which was both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Making friends isn’t always the easiest, but I’m here to confirm that it gets better. Eventually, people just start talking to each other, and soon enough, friendships will be formed. At least in my experience, striking up conversations with new people is one of the best ways to break the awkward tension and feel a little more comfortable in the class. Chances are, they wanted to talk to you too.

Unexpectedly, this has been my most challenging year in terms of physical health. Everything was going pretty well until March, where I fell in class and fractured my kneecap. It wasn’t my finest moment.

A few days later I got surgery, and the recovery process started immediately after. I was medically excused from school for 2 weeks, and when I finally came back, I could only manage half-days. Not being able to walk properly made me realize how much I had taken the use of my legs for granted. It’s something so simple, so necessary to life, but without it, life becomes really, really difficult.

I worked with my teachers and partial home bound tutors to catch up on all the work that I had missed, which wasn’t easy. I desperately wished to go back to the days of full day school, leaving class at the same time as everyone else, and being able to benefit from in-class instruction. Luckily, I’m back in school now (with a crutch), but it took an immense amount of work and effort to catch up to my peers.

To all the sophomores reading this, spend this summer wisely. Although junior year can be fun at times, it’s mostly just a lot of work. Study for the SAT’s so you don’t have to take them 3 times (like I did), and take some time to review the course material for your classes. Websites like Khan Academy really, really help.

Stay connected to your old friends, but be open to making new ones. Some of your new friends will turn out to be your best friends! It also helps to have some study buddies in your classes, especially the more challenging ones.

Also, don’t trip over your shoelace while carrying a desk in the middle of class. It will most definitely hurt, and result in months of physical therapy and strenuous academic make-ups!