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June 17, 2010

As the last traditional year of schooling comes to an end, many seniors rejoice. No more seemingly endless hours of classes, nasty cafeteria food or annoying underclassmen to deal with …unless they’re going to college, that is.

For some, going into the adult world will be a difficult transition. Saying good-bye to friends and the comforting routine of high school life, they are sad to leave their childhoods behind.

Twelve area high school seniors recently reflected on their last year. For some, senior year was a time of relaxation, friends and fun. For most, though, it was time to buckle down on Advanced Placement and college prep classes.

Most seniors found the year to be rewarding academically as well as socially. Both public and private school seniors took several AP and other college credit courses and feel as prepared as they can be for their next step in life—college.

Some seniors are featured below. While public schools are generally much bigger than private schools, the social dynamics seem to lead to the same cherished friends and teachers. It is these relationships that these seniors will miss the most, along with the leisurely pace of growing up.

Laura Cockman has spent much of her senior year studying. After fours years at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, she ranks 20th in her class.

“I’m a mega-nerd,” she explained. “Most of my friends have told me at some point how stupid I was to take a heavy course load when they're busy brushing bunnies in ‘small animal care’ and baking brownies in ‘senior foods,’ but I feel that my schedule isn't a burden most of the time, and when I am stressed, I think of it as practice for handling even greater amounts of future stress,” she said.

As Laura prepares to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., to study secondary education, English and maybe communications, she says she’s never wavered from pursuing her goals.

“I think many people think in the short term, only focusing on graduating high school or maintaining certain grades,” she said.

“That doesn't get them anywhere in the long run, but I am focused on what I want, so I've continued to work to get there.”

One goal, however, remains out of reach. “I also plan to win the reality show Survivor, and high school hasn't helped much with that.”

Maggie Fikes has been home-schooled for all but her freshman and sophomore years. Though she is “grateful for the experience,” she was ready to resume home-schooling and has attended Northpoint (a home-school co-op) for her junior and senior years.

In the fall, Maggie will attend IUPUI and major in psychology. She’s ready to move on but “I’m kind of nervous about college. I suppose my last year of high school has prepared me a little but honestly not all that much.

“My senior year was the easiest of all my years,” she continued. “My classes had little to no homework and class work was simple.”

She was glad to see less social drama her senior year. “By the time you’re a senior, you don’t have to worry about cliques or who’s popular and who’s not. Everybody is used to each other and is just ready to graduate,” she said.

“I will for sure miss volleyball and also just the simplicity of being a ‘kid’. Once you graduate, you can’t go back. I feel like I didn’t take advantage of everything I could have.”

Angie Borelly and Brandon Douglas graduated from Scecina Memorial High School, a Catholic school on the Eastside. It has about 345 students in four grades, but the small size is seen as a benefit by these two.

“It’s more like one-on-one when the teachers teach,” Angie said. “We have less interruptions than you have in a bigger school because there are less people and everyone actually cares.”

Angie spent much of her senior year getting to know the underclassmen at her school “so I could be close to everybody and not just my senior class,” she said. She feels prepared academically and socially for next year, when she will pursue physical therapy at University of Indianapolis “and play golf and make the best of college I can.”

Brandon also feels well-prepared by his senior year, especially academically.

“I feel senior year is kind of a combination of getting your last classes but also learning how to move on to college and making sure you’re ready for it,” he said. “Scecina places a big emphasis on making sure you’re ready for what you want to do, and that you can go to any place that you want to go.”

He will attend Albion College in Michigan to study chemistry and computer science and hopes to become a forensic scientist.

Michael Wang is graduating from Carmel High School, which has more than 4,100 students in four grades. “It has taught me both independence and open-mindedness,” he said.

Michael has had to work hard his senior year, sometimes in spite of himself.

“I went into senior year thinking it was going to be a breeze,” he said. “But taking five AP courses, two IB (International Baccalaureate) courses and applying to colleges, compounded with senioritis, took its toll both physically and mentally.”

Michael will attend Harvard University to study art and political science. Knowing he is headed to Massachusetts has made him appreciate his friendships, especially in the second semester.

“ I would say during senior year, I became closer with my true friends and farther apart from my acquaintances,” he said.

Rebekah Taft started as a freshman at Herron High School, a classical, liberal arts charter school just north of Downtown, and she will be in its first graduating class.
Rebekah has found her school’s small size to be a bit of a downfall.

“In a small school with only 100 people per grade, students can get a little too used to each other,” she said. However, “I got a lot closer to my classmates during senior year. Going to a small school, the closeness seems much more close, too.”

As for college, Rebekah is ready to go. She will be attending Covenant College, a small Christian liberal-arts school located atop Lookout Mountain in Georgia, to study history and English.

“Pretty much everyone is going to college from Herron. It is something the faculty and teachers assume will be the next step for every student,” she said.

“I was in five AP courses, so there wasn't often a free evening. I felt like my classes were more interesting and pertinent to the world around me and that made it easier to study for them. I feel quite well-prepared for college.”

Madeleine Clark is graduating from Franklin Community High School in Franklin. She has thoroughly enjoyed her senior year by having fun and working hard—but not too hard.

Among her extracurricular activities are Harvard Model Congress, student council, cheerleading, tennis and Rotary Club, and she has traveled to Spain, Boston, and Washington, D.C., “all within a year.”

Academically speaking, it's been less stressful than previous years, she said, and though she feels that Franklin could strengthen its academics, she has been satisfied with her teachers.

“Franklin still has a long way to go before we can catch up to other schools' programs, but personally I have gained much in the way of both writing and political activism from some fabulous teachers this year,” she said.

She is heading to Duke University in Chapel Hill, N.C., to major in international studies and minor in Spanish and Arabic, in hopes of later attending law school.

Daniel Ballow has attended a variety of schools. He started out at a Christian school for elementary, moved to Crispus Attucks for his middle school years and graduated from Indianapolis Public Schools’ Key Learning Community.

While all the moving didn’t faze Daniel, he says it hasn’t made him a particularly social person. However, that changed a little when his senior class took a service-learning trip to the Dominican Republic in April.

The Key students provided aid to a Haitian migrant community and helped out at an orphanage. They also learned about Dominican culture and history and were able to cut loose and go kayaking and swimming at a national park. “Living in close quarters with people I wouldn't have any out-of-school contact with was an experience for the whole class,” Daniel said.

He credits the trip with giving him the ability to adapt to a range of situations and thus feels well-prepared for his future, which includes heading to Ball State to study education, English or journalism.


Copyright 2010 Y-Press

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