Emily Aiken ‘20, Editor-in-Chief
My first day of highschool was like any other freshman’s first day. I was overwhelmed as I made my way to my first class, butterflies in my stomach. I saw new faces and made new friends, and I tried to find my way around a high school that seemed so impossibly huge at the time. When I walked into my final class of the day, Journalism, I had no idea what was to come. My best friend Abbie and I decided to take that class so we would not have to take gym. We had no idea what the class entailed, but we knew that it sounded a lot better than running around and sweating for an hour; however, when we walked into the class for the first time, we were very intimidated. We were the only freshmen in a class full of seniors, and we listened to Ms. Mullins (now Mrs. Kane) explain how the rest of the year was going to go. It sounded like a ton of work and required dedication. After class, I turned to Abbie and asked if it was worth it. We were both hesitant, but we decided to give it a try.
That ended up being probably the best decision we made during our freshman year because the Lions’ Roar became a huge part of both of our lives for the next four years, and Mrs. Kane became one of our biggest role models. Writing this is bittersweet. As I write my final words for this class, I think back to all of the articles I wrote, all the pages I designed, and all the people I met. For the past four years, I had the opportunity to be a part of something special: student journalism, and I am beyond grateful for that opportunity. I got to write about topics that were important to me. I got to be creative with the design and layout of the Lions’ Roar, and the best part of it all was how every month for the past four years, I got to see people pick up the paper and view my work. Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment.
But these four years have taught me lessons beyond those that I learned in the classroom—lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. First of all, I learned the importance of leaving your comfort zone. If I always stayed within the boundaries of what was “comfortable” to me, I would have missed out on a lot of opportunities. Second, I learned the importance of prioritizing your mental health. The heavy workload of AP classes mixed with the tests and deadlines easily creates a feeling of being overwhelmed. But when you are not feeling your best, there is no way to do your best. Finally, and I think most importantly, I learned the importance of resilience. Throughout high school, you are going to be thrown curve balls, and some things will just be out of your control. But how you react and pick yourself up is what can turn a challenge into a valuable lesson.
Of course, I could not write this without addressing the elephant in the room: COVID-19. It is an eerie time for everyone, and while I am just one voice among hundreds of seniors, I know exactly what everyone is feeling right now. On Friday, March 13, 2020, without knowing it at the time, I walked through the halls of SLHS for probably the last time. I sat at lunch for the last time. I sat in my favorite classes for the last time. I experienced high school for the last time. Experiencing my senior year completely always seemed like such a given. I watched members of my family graduate, go to prom, and celebrate as they moved on to the next chapter of their lives. I never thought that experience would be taken away from us so suddenly. With that said, I think that something can be said about the class of 2020. Through everything going on in the world right now, we continue to be resilient. We find positivity as we look forward to our futures. Throughout highschool, we never let obstacles stop us, and COVID-19 is no exception.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to write for the Lions’ Roar for the past four years. I will always remember the late nights, the hours of writing, and the proud moments I experienced while on staff. I will take those memories with me as I move on to the next chapter of my life.
Photo courtesy of thebluebook.com