English Teacher Stephan Potchatek mentioned, off-handedly, that I should go visit an art gallery. I had been slammed after school with work, but I still wanted to see it. So, I negotiated with one of my other teachers into letting me go. Alone, in the middle of the day, I left school, travelled to Cork Street and spent 15 minutes in a tiny art gallery, with probably 20 digitally enhanced photos ringing the walls. That was all that was there. I would never have been able to do any of this without senioritis.
Many teachers try to vilify the idea of senioritis. Work continues to be collected on a daily basis, pop quizzes are handed out and teachers emphasize their classes more than any others. This is wrong. For the last year and a half, “college,” this mythical place I could never reach, became the most important thing in my life. Every conversation was, in some way, directed towards college. It dominated me. While I was touring colleges I realized, for the first time why I was working so hard, and why my teachers were pushing me. So, I rose to the challenge. I worked for grades. I worked for the future. I didn’t care what a derivative was, what the subjunctive conjugation of “estar” was or how the Vietnam War began; I just needed these facts in my head to get an “A”. Not everything went well; some things went quite poorly, in fact, but it was a means to an end. And then it ended. I walked out of my last mid-term exam. I pressed the dreaded “submit” button on my applications. I was done.
I have four months left in London: Four months taking classes at ASL, four months with these classmates that we have all gotten to know so well, whether it has been over 12 years or six months. I have been here since sixth grade. I have been friends with Alex Ericksen (‘13) since the first day of seventh grade. And now, for better or worse, we will not attend the same school next year. Moreover, we will not live in the same city. Why, then, should I worry about grades that do not affect me? I should focus on enriching myself and my relationships while they last. Time becomes incredibly limited when you get to senior year. Everything begins to come to an end and the end seems impossibly close. I want to spend this time with the people from my grade and not stressing out about a homework assignment.
Now, I am not saying that one should stop doing work; that’s a ridiculous proposition for a student reporter for a school newspaper to make. Instead, the last six months of your senior year should be for you. Whatever that means for the individual, that is what the final part of senior year is for. For the last 18 months, I have learned for college, not me, but now I can learn for myself. Walking around that gallery, I realized what derivative art meant, more than any class I could take, because I experienced something. That’s the fun of it. In Calculus, I actually think, conceptually, about what we have been studying. I care about the classes I want to care about, not the ones I am forced to care about. On top of that, I can actually sit back and enjoy my time at ASL.
I have made a new rule with myself: Go to bed at 10:30. Period. I can do that now and it is just spectacular. As a result, I can focus better in class, and engage with my own learning. I could never do that if I had to do all the work I was supposed to do last semester. Last semester, I was constantly strung out sleep-deprived and blurry-eyed in class. Now, I am generally happy, sleep well, and able to focus in class, for the joy of learning.
I think it is time to redefine senioritis; make it a time for seniors to do what they care about. Learn because they enjoy the class, experience London because they will not be here much longer. I could go on, but I am going to go see a play. And then an art gallery. And then just walk through Regent’s Park.