From Shermer Road to Memory Lane

Maddie Harris, Executive Lifestyle Editor

When I was a freshman, I remember looking at the seniors and thinking, “Wow. Those are some people who’ve got their lives together.”

Now, as a senior, I can say that I certainly do not have my life together. But I’ll never forget the moment this year on the Speech Team when a freshman told me she was nervous to do her speech in front of me, her varsity mentor. She said she looked up to me. And I realized that maybe I’ve grown a bit more than I thought. So to say goodbye to high school, I decided I’d share some memories from each year that, whether intentional or by complete coincidence, have turned a nervous freshman into the nostalgic senior writing this.

Freshman year: Throughout high school, we’ve had blogs in choir. Our first prompt was to write about our first few days of high school. I wrote, “Today is August 24th. It is warm outside. It’s the third day of high-school, and I have no idea what is going on. In choir we are writing blogs, and in English, our homework is to draw about ourselves. Everything is going crazy and I am a bit concerned for the next 4 years, but am excited as well.” Suffice to say, I felt very lost. I didn’t fully believe the “excited as well” part then, but simply writing it did lead the excitement to soon overtake those fears. 

Sophomore year: In chemistry, we were learning about combustion, and my teacher demonstrated a combustion reaction involving lighting methane bubbles on fire. The reaction went on as normal, gaining a collective “Whoa” from the class as the flames covered parts of the ceiling, but was shortly followed by screams. You see, I guess we offended the sprinklers, so they began blasting water, causing the whole school to evacuate. While the fire alarm blared, I felt like a celebrity! Everyone was asking what happened, and I proudly shared the hot scoop. Before long, a video of the reaction appeared on an Instagram profile with over one million followers. We were the talk of the school (for, like, a week). 

Junior year: Oddly enough, a notable memory from my junior year perfectly transitions from that sophomore year “fire.” I auditioned for the Winter Showcase my junior year, and when the director asked if anyone wanted to show more of what they could do at the end of the audition, I stayed, seeing if I could calm my fears. We were asked to do a 30-second monologue on a word the director gave us, and my word was “fire.” My mind went blank. The next thing I knew, I became a flickering flame. I hopped from one foot to the other, waving my arms in the air, shouting, “Woosh!” It sounds silly, but I loved it. It felt like I had been holding my breath for the past three years in the theater department, and I could finally exhale. I walked out of that audition with a smile on my face, past the nerves that had been consuming me. And I was cast in the show.

Senior year: My senior year hasn’t really had any big, pivotal moments as I had hoped for. Yet it feels like I’ve grown the most this year, becoming the type of leader I never imagined I was capable of being. After that conversation with the freshman on the Speech Team, I started viewing myself differently. I volunteered to take control in certain Ladies First rehearsals and activities. I gained confidence in my decision making on Torch. I shared with novices all of the great skills and joy I’ve gained from being on the Speech Team these past four years. Though I certainly feel far from what I perceived the seniors to be like when I was a freshman, I’ve realized how important bravery, and maybe some fire, can really be.