Four Years Gone By: What I’ve Learned

Karen Veliz Santos, J1 Staff Writer

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Ever since I walked into the doors of Paint Branch High School as a freshman, I thought ahead to the first day of my senior year and everything I would experience in that year. Now that I have not only experienced that day, but also many more. In my senior year, I can honestly say the best part of senior year was the banquet, because we all came together as a class and enjoyed a magical night. The worse night of senior year was the pep rally, because it was outside and the seniors were not allowed to have their moment where they run across the gym. Instead it was outside and we still couldn’t run out.  

When I was in ninth grade, I didn’t take anything seriously. I didn’t take anything that the teacher said seriously. I would leave school without thinking there would be any consequences, and I didn’t do much work, to be truthful. Many teachers tried to help me out, but I would deny the help because I thought I was “too cool for school.”

In tenth grade, I realized how badly my actions were affecting me when I came to school on the first day and realized I was still in a freshman homeroom. I was embarrassed, but I acted oblivious as to the reasons for why I was there. It was not until my counselor contacted me during first quarter that I learned I was going to be able to rectify the situation: night school. I hated night school very much. It felt like a waste of time, but I realized that my actions as a freshman affected everyone around me. I had a rep that wasn’t great. I was known as “the girl who leaves” or “the girl that won’t make it.” I realized that it hurt my parents having to think that I would maybe not graduate on time because I was already behind in school. Everyone saw potential, and I let them down. After realizing that, I got my act together and got help with every class I struggled with, and I started getting good grades. I even got an academic award for my efforts.

Last year, as an eleventh grader, I continued to improve and, more importantly, I maintained my grades and my efforts. I’m glad that I turned it around because junior year – as many say – was the hardest year. I tried my best not to go back to my old ways, because of how hard it was – especially how badly I struggled in my math class. But I did my best and tried as hard as I could. Ms. Powell helped me with my test strategies and my anxiety over taking quizzes, She helped me develop strategies that improved my quiz grades and I really owe her for that. She really helped me try harder.

This year, my senior year, I felt like I could handle my school work and my personal life, because I found balance between the two. Some nights I spent doing homework and then hanging out with my friend’s, but, in truth, by the middle of the school year senioritis kicked in and I lost my pattern of doing work. Of course, my grades started getting bad and I waited until the last minute to get it together. However, I learned over time and realized that I couldn’t lose focus on my last year of high school because I had worked very hard to get where I am today.

After four long years, I’ve realized that I tend to have a pattern with school where I’m doing very well and then I end up doing badly when I start to lose motivation. It really shouldn’t be that way because you need to be good all year around instead of slacking. Graduation and the happiness it will bring to my family was my only real motivation. My ultimate advice: don’t get distracted so easily and try your hardest on everything you can.

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Four Years Gone By: What I’ve Learned