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The Start of a New Chapter

In this moment, history is being written. Many in the future will look back at this point in time and see how unusual it was. As a high school senior living in this era of isolation and quarantine, I am going to talk about my high school career and hopefully give insight to those coming after me. Even though the 2019-2020 school year ended differently, I will continue The Challenge’s tradition of having its senior writers give their perspective on the high school story.

I started my high school chapter in 2016 and it was special. It was a time where I moved up from my middle school, Mountain Sky Junior High School, as many others have, to Thunderbird’s high school campus. However, I can barely remember my freshman year; it was uneventful; it was normal. The only thing that I consider memorable my freshman year was the modern interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing that I performed in Mr. Pinkerton’s Honors English 1-2 class. That was a process that was amusing, nerve-wracking, and embarrassing that occurred all in one day. My sophomore year was also pretty mediocre. I continued to take my classes seriously and continued to develop my friendships that I made freshman year. Nevertheless, some of the most memorable things that occurred during my 2017-2018 year was that I acted in the play Macbeth in my Honors English 3-4 class with Mr. Clements and I also remember making fun of Mr. Casper’s marriage and how I completely became fearful of the consequences of doing such an act towards a teacher, Mr. Casper no less. Furthermore, I remember fondly taking part in my AP World History class and planning world domination with my classmates. I was a very naive teenager that had an imagination that was too big.

Now, my junior year was pretty packed with both fond and unfond memories. One of the most fond memories I remember during my 2018-2019 junior year was skipping Honors Pre-Calculus and immediately taking AP Calculus AB. Now, some may think that this is a pretty mundane event in my life. Some might go even further saying, “How is this a fond memory? How is taking a math class, furthermore, a college level math class, even considered a fond memory?” Well, here’s my answer. It was a major achievement in my life. I was able to advance my mathematics journey to a new level and I felt accomplished. Furthermore, it can potentially help me in college in the future. This was one of the fond memories. One of the unfond memories of my high school career were AP exams. While I did take one AP exam my sophomore year, my junior year AP tests were stressful to think about to say the least. I thought that it would be similar to my sophomore AP World History exam, that it would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. They were far more difficult than I could have ever imagined and they’re supposed to be. However, this led to cram sessions, multiple hours-long studying of past exams, and stressing over if I knew everything I was taught. All I know is that I am glad I conquered those exams with high marks.

Moving on to my senior year. This year, I imagined that it would be the best out of my four years at Thunderbird. They were the best, however not as I expected them to be. I thought that I would end my year with seeing my friends at graduation, continuing to do food reviews with the editorial board, and continuing to laugh with both my underclassmen and upperclassmen companions. Little did I know that my year would be a memorable one because of a global pandemic. When COVID-19 broke into the mainstream media, I gave it little thought; I only thought of it as a resolvable situation that would soon blow over. I was very wrong. COVID-19 became a nightmare for me, for Arizona, for the United States of America, and for the entire globe. Seeing all the suffering this disease caused was frightening. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about this sickness. However, I found comfort in quarantine. While doing video calls with classmates and teachers was unusual at first, it soon became, surprisingly, enjoyable. I was able to talk again with my teachers and classmates after being isolated for a time. Quarantine also made me more focused on the tasks given to me and assisted me in achieving several goals such as being more open with my teachers about a subject. While I wish that I could have had a normal senior year, I appreciated this one.

After talking about my spiel, I want to give just a few pieces of advice to those coming after me. I want to let people know that high school is to be enjoyed to the fullest. Make your years here at Thunderbird or at any other educational institution a memorable one and find ways to do so. Also, keep your friends close and dump those who give you a hard time; embrace friendship and cut toxic ties. While it may be difficult to do this, your friends will be with you throughout the way, giving you honest advice on how to tackle certain things. One last thing. Cultivate a good relationship with your teachers. They are there for a reason. They truly want to assist you to achieve your goals. This sounds cliche, but it is true, at least in my case. These educational resources are there to walk with you on your path to success. They might be tough at some points, trying to push you to your limits, sometimes over them, but it’s because of their good intentions. These people don’t push you to see you fail. They push you to help you grow, to help you hone in on your skills, to resolve mistakes, and to help you overcome the opponents in your way. For example, my AP teachers-Ms. Griffiths, Mrs. West, Mr. Baker, Mrs. Boykin, and Mr. Casper-have all pushed me to do good things. They have pushed my buttons many times (Mr. Casper, I’m talking directly to you, in a good way of course), but it helped in my success. It helped me shape an objective view of my world. I appreciate the things they did for me; the assignments, exams, projects, presentations, I learned from them.

All in all, I had a great high school experience. It was unique, it was different, and it was definitely memorable. While some try to bring you down, you have countless others that will stand by your side and protect you on your journey. While high school may seem tough, it does become easier as you go through the years. That also sounds cliche, but you’ll understand what I am saying soon enough. If you ever need help, just ask around. For those who know me, just give me a quick text, a call, or communicate with me in any way you can. The final thing is this: thank you to all who helped shape my character, who helped me conquer my fears, who helped develop my skills, who helped me up when I fell to my knees, who assisted me in overcoming several obstacles, who genuinely cared for me. I thank those who truly made me happy in this journey. While I’m off to start my new chapter at Arizona State University soon, I will always remember my high school journey for what it was and is, a journey that was full of opportunity and a journey that has genuinely made me joyful. Thank you to all who were with me during these momentous four years and I hope to see you all soon. This is Kevinjonah Paguio signing off, at least for now.