Dear Junior Year,


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Dear Junior Year, 

15 days left, but who’s counting? 

I am, but it’s honestly because I don’t want to leave. 

Maybe it’s because I fell in love with (most) of my classes and that I can’t wrap my mind around leaving Mr. Bigelow’s US History class, or maybe it’s because entering Senior Year signals the beginning of my very last year of high school. Sure, I’ve gone through four whole physics notebooks and spent more time caffeinated than not, but I’ve enjoyed every coffee-filled minute walking through the alcove and annotating away in Mr. Laufer’s room. I’m not going to sit here and say that Junior Year is easy because it’s not, especially considering I found myself stuck at the crossroads of academic achievement and sanity for most of the year. But I learned to find some beauty in the struggle, and that’s what I want to share with you today. 

Somewhere in the mix of creating Spanish quizlet sets, physics lab days, and the occasional statistics game day, I learned what it means to be a student. I learned that school isn’t this great memorization game, but to really succeed, you have to think for yourself. As crazy as it sounds, the whole point of going to school has a purpose: this skill of thinking critically, doing your own research, and being confident in your opinion is so important. Otherwise, this scary thing called life will kick you in the ass. 

I also often hear people complaining about the material we’re learning in class, saying things like: “When will I ever need to calculate the tangential velocity of an object in the real world?” Or “Do you know how many times I’ve needed to know what happened in the 1900s? Never. It’s in the past, so it doesn’t matter.” And this bothers me so much. Sure, I’ve never needed to know what Faulkner was suggesting about America in As I Lay Dying, but I had the privilege to analyze his work and create my own theories. Now that’s what I call learning.

Also, I think we need to take a collective deep breath and realize how lucky we are to learn at Parker: an institution with the resources and faculty dedicated to making us succeed. I will gladly admit that without our fancy equipment and teacher meetings, my understanding of everything wouldn’t be thorough or as nuanced as it is, and for that, I’m deeply grateful. 

All this being said, I’ve also done my fair share of complaining this year. Whether it’s about being marked tardy when I arrive at 8:09 or the absurdity of having a 20-page-long lab write-up due the same day of a test on the same subject, there are some parts about Junior Year that don’t get less frustrating — you just get used to them. And this year, for the very first time, I’ve learned to admit I can’t do everything on my own, and that’s completely ok. Because when your workload piles up to such a level that it’s almost funny, you need to lean on your friends and classmates. Quizlet sets become communal, you begin bouncing essay ideas off one another, and math makes that much more sense when you’re learning from each other. It’s safe to say that I’d probably fail without Allison’s “we’re studying together right now” nightly facetime calls.

Even though I’m writing this article as a way of procrastinating studying for finals, there’ll always be some sort of comfort in Junior Year. It’s safe to say that this year was the hardest for me academically, and there’s no doubt about it. But, I’ll admit that it’s been nice using my workload as an excuse to avoid thinking about the future. 


Hanna Bilgin