To the past four
Seniors reminisce on their high school memories
May 26, 2023
Opening up the envelope that contained his grades from his first semester of freshman year, senior Clay Carson was ecstatic to see the string of bold A’s on the piece of paper he held. To him, it was an encouraging sign that he had the potential to succeed in high school despite previously feeling quite daunted.
To Carson, one of the most exciting things about entering high school as a freshman was being part of a larger community. As a student at Kennedy Middle School, he often felt as though the student body was small – but now he was excited to be surrounded by more students and gain access to more opportunities.
One of Carson’s favorite memories from senior year includes Youth Orchestra, which he says allows him to have a lot more experiences than he did freshman year and has also allowed him to meet new people and grow as a person. He claims that the orchestra’s four concerts during the year serve as the culmination for the work that he puts into preparing for the shows.
Carson also says that the extracurricular activities he participated in have pushed him to become more outgoing and social, something he struggled with as a freshman. His speaking-based activities, such as Speech, Mock Trial and Drama have helped him grow.
“In freshman year, I was a lot more introverted and I didn’t interact with as many people,” Carson said. “But trying more opportunities encouraged me to branch out more and push myself out of my comfort zone. High school has shown me that I can do both — I can have fun doing it and I’ll be more confident than I was when I started high school.”
Waking up two hours earlier than usual, senior Kelly Tung was amazed when she walked into her final Homecoming practice. Her hard work was coming to fruition when she saw the painted backdrops hanging in the Rally Court. From painting at senior Stephanie Zhang’s house to seeing the final product, Tung remembers experiencing a beautiful moment of cognitive dissonance — the contrast between what the posters were and how they appeared finished was unbelievable.
Tung also remembers the enjoyment she felt while dancing in her last Homecoming performance. The moment she stepped onto the stage for the final dance marked one of the most exciting moments of her high school career.
“We didn’t have the best performances in previous years, but I really think this year, we pulled [everything] together perfectly and at the right moment,” Tung said. “Our hard work really stood out. That was something I was really, really proud of.”
Much like Tung’s love of the senior Homecoming skit, a moment Tung won’t forget was the Welcome Back Rally from her freshman year. Not knowing what to expect from high school, watching the upperclassmen perform dances and play silly games was a perfect welcome to MVHS for Tung. And seeing the event evolve over the past four years has been something Tung cherishes annually.
Before Tung experienced any high school, including the rally, she was most excited to be independent. She also recalls feeling like the time between middle school and high school was a gray area in terms of freedom as she wasn’t old enough to do things she thought a high schooler would do, but too old to do the things she felt a middle schooler should do. Now, Tung notes the same transition is occurring for her — the shift from high school to college being the another bringer of independence.
However, as a senior, Tung says high school truly made her more independent. She finds that she has gained more interpersonal skills and notes that balancing extracurricular work, school and being involved in her community were the harbingers of this growth.
“I learned to be myself,” Tung said. “It sounds so cliche, but I learned how to be friends with people and empathize and manage myself. I don’t think I would have been able to learn and grow as much if I went to a different high school, so I’m very grateful to be here.”
Looking back upon her four years at MVHS, Tung couldn’t be happier with the way it went. And if she could, she’d tell her freshman self just that.
“It all turns out well,” Tung said. “Even though you’re still feeling a little green and unsure what to do, everything will happen the way that [it’s] meant to happen. And just know that we will be in a very happy place four years from now.”
Having previously struggled in John Conlin’s JAVA class, senior Dillon Huang eagerly anticipated the return of a test on which he felt he had performed well. After seeing his grade, which was impressive, Huang remembers Conlin taking a moment to clap for his success.
Prior to beginning high school, however, Huang wasn’t expecting to necessarily find the most joy in his classes — he was more excited for the extracurricular activities and clubs he could join. And he was especially interested in the competitions and trips to other high schools.
Like he anticipated, playing beach volleyball during the AP Chemistry field trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was one of Huang’s favorite moments from both senior year and high school in general. It was a “full-circle” moment for Huang as he had played volleyball for MVHS freshman year, but decided to let it go his sophomore year and beyond. In that moment, he felt like a freshman again — relatively care free and without responsibilities.
Like his feelings regarding freshman year’s relative ease, before senior year Huang was excited for the promise of a laid-back second semester. He anticipated both the hopeful security of college decisions and the freedom that he expected for himself.
Now enjoying the promises and relaxation of second semester senior year, Huang realizes he would tell his freshman self to relax and focus on improvement.
“Go with the flow and know that everything eventually will work out,” Huang said. “If you make a mistake, it’s OK. Learn from those mistakes and try to be a better version of yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.”