Opinion: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge true purpose should be known

BY EMILY CHAIET

NEWS EDITOR

What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? Most of you can probably find the answer on your Facebook feed.

Throughout the past few months, it’s been impossible to go on social media without seeing “ALS ice bucket challenge” pop up. But let me ask you a question: why are you pouring a bucket of ice on yourself?EMILY C COLOR copy

Most of us are capable of dousing ice-cold water on ourselves for the world to see, yet I bet only a fraction of us can say what ALS is and what purpose the ice bucket challenge serves for those affected by it.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Due to the degeneration of motor neurons, ALS often results in death. The life expectancy of an ALS patient is two to five years from the time of diagnosis. Only 30,000 people in the US have ALS, and there is no cure for the disease thus far.

Unlike those who roll their eyes every time they see another ice bucket challenge pop up on their Instagram feed, I feel joy seeing such a little known disease getting attention. Since the ice bucket challenge began, the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million in donations it received last year. The only thing I roll my eyes at is how little people will care about the disease once their video is posted.

The problem with the ice bucket challenge is it has become such a pop culture phenomenon that people are forgetting why it began in the first place. If people are not aware of the importance of ALS research, and the impact the challenge has had, the ice bucket challenge is in danger of becoming just another fad that will be buried into the depths of social media in a matter of months.

Why do I say this? Let me take you back to a time when everybody wore “I Love Boobies” bracelets to support breast cancer. How many people still wear those bracelets today? While those bracelets stood for an excellent cause in breast cancer awareness and gave attention to a life-threatening illness, most people bought them for the comical phrase written or to blend in with their friends. The bracelets, which were made to promote breast cancer, became a fashion trend rather than a charitable donation.

The ALS ice bucket challenge is on the path to a similar fate as the “I Love Boobies” bracelets. Due to people’s ignorance, participants have no care to keep the trends going. When such great causes are getting attention, we cannot let them turn into fads.

This is the first time the ALS community has received so much attention, and it would be a shame to see the ice bucket challenge become just another forgotten hashtag on social media. Instead of caring how many likes we get on our ice bucket challenge videos, we should care about how much the challenge has helped ALS research.

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Opinion: College applications break the bank

SABRINA GAGGIA
PRINT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Tapping away at the keys on my computer on a Friday night while sipping on some much-needed coffee as I fill and refill what seems to be endless question boxes about classes, grades, accomplishments and incomes, my head starts to pound. That’s right, I’m talking college applications.

This process not only consumes first semester seniors mentally but also financially. As a hopeful and dedicated applicant, I make time during my weeks and weekends to fill out the endless sections of my applications and even worse, write and rewrite my essays. But when my decisions on where to apply are affected because of the application fees, I begin to feel as if the application process is not a fair one.
College admissions offices should make applying to schools free or they should at least partially reimburse the students that get rejected from their schools.PRETTY SAB

Normally when $300 is charged to my mom’s credit card in a single hour, a grand purchase has been made. Unfortunately, this has not been the case lately. Large sums of money have been spent, except it has not been on a grand purchase but on a few of my college applications.

Why do some schools ask applicants to pay an $85 application fee? If our application is sent via the web, almost like an email, why do colleges need to charge us this much money to send in our information? Where does the money even go? I understand the people who evaluate the applications need to get paid, but $85 seems like too much money for the amount of work required.

The financial aspect of my college application process has not only overwhelmed me, but it has also made me feel as if all colleges worry about is money rather than education, as if they do not give importance to me or my application, and as if instead of reading my name all they see is dollar signs.

Granted, by allowing students to send applications for free, the number of applications admission offices would receive would increase. However, students’ chances of getting into college would also increase due to the fact that they could apply to more schools. Paying $85 dollars to apply to a school makes me feel as if I am paying for rejection.

Not only is sending the application a financial worry in students’ eyes and in parents’ checkbooks, but also add sending SAT and/or ACT scores along with transcripts to the list – both of which are necessary and not free – and the price becomes absurd. As if college is not expensive enough, the application process just adds to the financial hardship that is college.

Making this process a free one or at least partially reimbursing students who get rejected would allow applicants a wider variety of schools to apply to, further changing the course of future collegiate careers.

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Opinion: Labels hide true identity

BY MEREDITH SHELDON

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

MERE

Filling out college applications, I come across the same question: How do you describe yourself?

An infinite list of adjectives comes to mind. However, the only options in the drop down menu are African-American, White, Asian, Hispanic, Indian or other.

I select white. In this declarative moment, I feel a sense of incompletion. Does “white” really define who I am? I am more than just a color. There is more to my character and my background than an unclear, broad label.

Growing up in a city such as Weston, I have been exposed to many different cultures, especially at the Bay, where more people speak Spanish than English.

Sixteen years in a diverse community equals 16 years of different cultures I collected. These are cultures that have formed my identity. These are cultures that are hidden behind my “white” label.

I consider myself part Hispanic. No, my parents are not from Colombia nor Venezuela. Yet, the majority of my teammates on my swim team embrace these backgrounds. My swim friends constantly speak Spanish at practice. When I visit their homes, I am immersed in a completely new culture with different food, different values and a different way of life.

Even though being Hispanic is not in my blood, it is in my heart. Unfortunately, it is not in my accent. My Hispanic friends constantly joke about my “gringa” voice, but I’m working on it.

I also consider myself part Israeli. None of my family is from Israel, but I am an observer of Judaism. I am immersed in a prominent Jewish population at my school. Some of these Jewish students are native Israelis or have lived in the holy-land for some period of time.

This summer, I traveled to Israel for the first time. I thought I would be confused and unable to understand the language. Although I don’t speak Hebrew, I immediately felt welcome there – partly because of the warm, friendly vibes I received from Israeli citizens, but also because I went with a strong background. My connection to the Jewish community in my school and in my synagogue helped me ease my way into Israel, feeling at home in a foreign country.

Besides Hispanic and Israeli, other cultures shape my identity. The US is a unique and culturally diverse nation. Walking through the crowded school halls is a feeling that equates to navigating the busy streets of New York City – unfamiliar faces all from different places. My school brings global local.

The environment on campus is similar to that of Disney’s theme park, Epcot. I walk around the park experiencing a taste of Italy, China and Spain. I walk through my school hallways surrounded by people speaking Italian, Chinese and Spanish. It is these micro-moments of connection where I am learning, growing and observing, becoming a more culturally-aware individual.

The label “white” does not define who I am. It may imply my ethnicity, but it does not represent the person I have grown and matured to be. Beneath my white skin and white label lie other cultures and traits. These are traits acquired from eating dinner at my Cuban neighbor’s house. These are traits learned through my friends from China, Russia and Greece.

Colleges desire a diversely populated campus, which is the purpose for their inquiry about my heritage. People are diverse not by the color of their skin nor by their place of birth, but by the skills acquired and by the activities pursued. We, as current college applicants, should not be mandated to label ourselves.

So, when asked how I would define myself, I select white. But this selection means nothing. Here’s the thing about labels: there is much more underneath.

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Opinion: Twitter is not the place for grief

BY JENNIFER SCHONBERGER

MANAGING EDITOR

I didn’t know Robin Williams personally. Neither did many others who flooded Twitter with 140-character-or-less messages mourning the loss of the beloved actor and comedic genius on Aug. 11. Still, in typical Twitter fashion, #RIPRobinWilliams managed to become a trending topic within hours of the sad news breaking.JEN JPEG

It’s natural for people to feel a connection with celebrities and to get emotional when they pass away. We admire and appreciate them for making us laugh, for making us think, for bringing some form of positivity into our lives.

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the event of Robin Williams’ passing, this admiration doesn’t always manifest itself as respect once it reaches the Twittersphere. There’s a time and a place for grief, and that day it became evident to me that Twitter is not the place.

It started that evening when my mom came into my room and told me about Robin Williams. I felt a pang in my chest, and immediately thought back to the days of my childhood when I fell in love with the story of “Jumanji” or when I had a “Hook” VHS tape playing on repeat as Williams took me to Neverland and made me never want to grow up.

After I reminisced, my next reaction was to open up Twitter to check how others were reacting to the news. But when I saw all of the #RIPRobinWilliams hashtags flooding my timeline, it disturbed me the way a hashtag symbol, something that is more often used lightheartedly with #tbt or #sorrynotsorry, was now paired with such a serious and grave statement.

I spent a minute trying to come up with a respectful tweet of my own before feeling guilty for how immediately taking to social media to share my emotions has become a natural reflex not only for me, but also for everyone of my social-media-obsessed generation. Why does sadness need to be publicized? Answer: It doesn’t.

It’s true that Twitter is all about giving users the right to express themselves, but it’s also true that there are no Twitter police blocking us from writing anything our hearts desire. This is why it’s up to us to know when we’re going one step too far with our words and crossing a line of respect. This line is bound to be broken when people try to take on such delicate subjects as suicide or depression.

Twitter can be used for good or for evil, and unfortunately, deaths bring out the worst of people on the Internet. On the day of Williams’ death, underneath all of the sympathetic comments celebrating his life were comments of harassment aimed at his 25-year-old daughter Zelda’s Twitter account.

She received hundreds of messages saying her father’s suicide was somehow her fault, and crude, Photoshopped pictures showing fake bruises around his neck. This ruthless Twitter attack during such a tough time pushed Zelda to sign off Twitter and Instagram for weeks to avoid harassment, which in turn pushed Twitter to make a statement on updating its safety policies.

“We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement. “We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”

https://twitter.com/zeldawilliams/status/499432576872755201

Incidents such as these make me question not only human nature but also the nature of social media – what type of person would use Twitter as a platform for bullying? Let’s all do Twitter a simple favor and try not to abuse the right of Freedom of Speech given to us in the First Amendment. Let’s try to be respectful. Hint: It’s not that hard if you’re a decent human being.

Not everything in life comes with instructions. There is no grieving-on-social-media handbook. (No, “Twitter for Dummies” doesn’t count). Simply treat celebrity deaths with the same respect you would if a loved one had died. We all know how the old saying goes: If you don’t have anything nice to Tweet, don’t Tweet anything at all.

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Opinion: Embracing the ‘pro’ in procrastination

BY BRITTANY ZEIDEL

MANAGING EDITOR

We’ve all been there.  Calculus homework due tomorrow, English project due Friday, physics assignment due Tuesday, and a dozen quizzes and test scattered sporadically throughout the next few weeks – so the logical thing to do at this point would be to sit down, get it all done, and call it a day.

But guess what I’m doing. Nothing. Should I be doing my schoolwork? Probably.  Am I going to? Definitely, but later.

To dawdle, to lag, to defer, and to loiter all translate to mean basically the same thing: to procrastinate.  In literal terms, when one procrastinates, he/she puts something off “until tomorrow.” The word procrastinate is even derived from the Latin pro, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “belonging to tomorrow.”

My grandmother was a procrastinator, my mother was a procrastinator, and now I guess one could say I am a pro-procrastinator. The trait is in my genes and is a part of who I am. Although the procrastination lifestyle is not exactly encouraged or accepted by all, it is the way that I function the best.

Procrastination has a negative connotation, so to be accused of being a procrastinator is usually taken badly. But whenever I am faced with this accusation, I embrace it. The “pros” in procrastination tend to be ignored since not all can harness their procrastinating powers usefully, but the actual concept of it should be reevaluated and accepted.

In order to successfully procrastinate, one must be aware of sudden and looming deadlines. For me, in those precious last moments before I’m supposed to be done with whatever needs to get done is my most crucial time.  My stressful race to completion combines with frantic desperation to produce something that I would not have been able to make otherwise. Therefore, determination and procrastination generates innovation.

Procrastination also becomes useful when dealing with unpredictable circumstances. Events can get canceled and deadlines can become eradicated. That outdoor event that you’ve been decorating for the whole week – gets rained out.  That math test you studied with a tutor for weeks – gets postponed. That party you bought the perfect new outfit for – gets canceled. These situations can and do happen, but are avoidable by procrastinating until a reasonable time to start preparations, arrangements and plans.

Procrastinating has also saved my physical and mental health. People tend to put a tremendous amount of stress on themselves when they plan so far in advance for what has the potential to change.  Ironically, prioritizing more hours working rather than hours necessary for sleep is unhealthy and can actually make someone less efficient, which has the complete opposite result from the intention. While my classmates are already sprouting gray hairs from stress, I experience relatively much less stress since all my stress runs its course within a short time period right before something is due.

Evolving into the pro-procrastinator that I am now didn’t just happen overnight. It took time, experience, and a few last-minute successes to reaffirm my procrastinating confidence. I am fully aware of my responsibilities and deadlines, so whatever needs to get done will always get done and on time, and I guarantee it will be spectacular.

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Opinion: Identity can sometimes be a surprise

Opinion: Identity can sometimes be a surprise

BY ILANA SPERLING

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

It happens every time. Whenever I mention where I’m from, someone around me is shocked. It shouldn’t bother me, but the fact that I am so often judged by my appearance is disappointing. I have strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, a German last name, and an American accent. I used to love saying where I was born whenever I had the chance, but now that I’m older I realize how unfortunate it is that my looks determine others’ expectations.

I was born in Bogota, Colombia. Although I moved to this country when I was a year and a half old, Spanish was my first language and I speak it fluently. My parents were both born and raised in Colombia, and lived there until they decided it was an unsafe place to raise a baby. My family moved to the United States in order to pursue opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Moving to the U.S. gave my parents the freedom to practice their religion comfortably, and to not live in fear. I am Jewish, and this is mainly how I identify myself. As a Jew, I’ve learned that my ancestors suffered persecution and discrimination, and my parents have instilled in me the idea that education is the one thing that cannot be taken away. Even as a young child, I strived to do my best in school, and I earned the label of gifted. This led to an even greater struggle with my identity. I became a Jewish, Colombian gifted student.ilanaimo

I have had mostly the same people in my classes since middle school, and at one point or another my peers have found out that I am Hispanic. Although some are surprised but try not to act it, I often receive very dramatic reactions from those who have just met me.

Usually after people first find out, I am asked to speak in Spanish. This question makes me uncomfortable since I’ve lost my Spanish accent due to constantly speaking with my American friends in English. My Colombian family makes fun of my accent, so in a way, I’ve become ashamed of my language.

My traditions are more Jewish than they are Colombian, making it difficult for me to relate to the 2,165 students at school who are from South American countries.

As a Colombian Jew, I often find it difficult to fit in, and I feel as though I don’t belong in many social circles. This is extremely difficult because of the preconceptions people have and the stereotypes they form in their heads when I talk about where I was born and what my religious affiliation is. This has led me to feel uncomfortable when filling out questionnaires, especially on college applications.

Being judged by my appearance has caused me to fear being judged by my representation on paper. Although colleges won’t know what I look like when they read my application, they should develop a sense of who I am from the information I provide and the voice in my essays.

Identity is integral to one’s sense of self, and because of the struggle I have faced in deciding who I am and what I should portray myself as, I feel as though my sense of self is fragmented.

Being Colombian is like my secret weapon, but it’s one I’m not always comfortable carrying. I love being able to understand those around me who speak Spanish, and communicating with people in two languages is a skill in which I take pride. But being Colombian and Jewish has also made me self-conscious.

When I was choosing which college to apply to, one of the biggest factors I considered was whether or not there was a large Jewish population. Being involved in the Jewish community has allowed me to feel a sense of belonging, and this involvement with my religion is something I will take with me when I am no longer living at home. However, I know that in the future when I have my own family, I will want my children to speak Spanish, because being bilingual is so beneficial.

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Opinion: Television inspires creativity, not laziness

BY JENNIFER SCHONBERGER

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

The misconception that watching television “rots your brain” has always struck me with a sense of disbelief. I think back to the Friday nights of my childhood when my parents would let 6-year-old me stay up late to catch an episode of “Full House,” and I see myself now eagerly staying up past midnight every Saturday to catch an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

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Growing to appreciate television over the years has not sentenced me to a lifetime of lethargy on the couch, as some may expect it to, but instead has impacted my own creativity and taught me how to handle life situations.

The writers that manage to get people addicted to television shows have a purpose, and they are genius enough to know how to lure people in. Through carefully constructed plotlines and messages sewn into a TV storyline, there is a tremendous amount of talent put into the production of a television show that should inspire younger generations to think in such innovative ways.

To learn through watching TV, you don’t necessarily need to be on the History Channel or watching an educational documentary. I have picked up information that will stick with me for a lifetime simply by watching sitcoms. On an old episode of “Friends” I learned what could ease the pain if I ever get stung by a jellyfish. By watching the comedy series “Modern Family,” I gained a sense for how diverse a family can be. Although it may seem silly and useless at the time, this information builds up into a collective archive in my brain where it is available for reference at any moment. In daily life, I find myself making allusions to episodes of TV shows all the time without even realizing it.

More than anything, TV has contributed to my sense of humor. I can attribute my understanding of sarcasm to the times in which I observed comical situations on television. For a person to interact with others, sarcasm, quickness, and wit are perfect qualities to make use of in social situations.

As a writer, I can honestly say that most of my creativity has stemmed from things I’ve seen on television that have subliminally etched themselves into my brain. These ideas inspire me to see situations from more than one perspective. If anything, watching television has not brainwashed me, but stimulated my creativity.

Not all that can be found on TV is worthy of praise, of course. However, once the junk is sorted out of the mix, the power of the pure imagination that is put into television shows can shine. Television is not just a series of pixelated images on a screen. What we watch on this screen truly broadens our awareness, exposes us to life outside of our own personal bubble, and teaches us about social skills, life values, and communication.

Looking back, I am extremely thankful to my parents that they never sent me up to my room years ago when I used to stay up late watching “Full House.” I have no shame in admitting to all of the essential morals about relationships and family values that I picked up from the Tanners and their fictional experiences in San Francisco. Television has taught me how to be a person and handle my own nonfictional life, a lesson that can’t be found in any textbook ever written.

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Opinion: Halloween spirit fades as children grow older

BY MEREDITH SHELDON

FEATURES EDITOR

Dressed in my Disney princess ball gown and a sparkly silver crown, I skip down a row of houses with a wide smile and a trick-or-treating bag in hand, anxiously receiving Halloween candy from my neighbors.

Halloween was always an exciting time of year for me as a child because I had the opportunity to express my imaginative desires and dress up as any character I wanted. But now, that Halloween spirit has faded. As the years pass, I find myself more and more conflicted as to whether or not I am too old to continue these past rituals.

As this spooky holiday passed and I reminisced about my previous Halloween experiences, I noticed how my sister and her friends, who are in middle school, already perceive themselves as “too grown up” to engage in these Halloween festivities. This shocking rationalization made me cringe at how her generation is maturing too quickly.merimo

I know my sister and her friends will not maintain their childhood innocence forever, but they are maturing socially at a much more rapid pace than I did back in middle school. Whether it is more provocative styles of dress or extravagant parties, it is a frustrating struggle to watch my sister grow up so fast.

During my elementary and middle school years, dressing up with friends and venturing out into the neighborhood for sweet treats was definitely the most exciting part about October. By the time high school came around, everyone was “too cool” for what appeared to be childish activities, so those traditions have changed from trading candies to throwing parties.

Now it seems like students dedicate any occasion to throwing parties. Whether it is for Halloween or just a random weekend, my generation and my sister’s generation find every excuse to party, even when there is nothing to celebrate.

I wish my sister would cherish these times and enjoy celebrating the holiday dressing up with her friends. I will always look back on my Halloween experiences as a child and it is sad to think that she is missing out on these opportunities.

 

 

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Opinion: Paying for college applications is a gamble

BY ILANA SPERLING

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As soon as I submitted my application to the seventh college I’m applying to, I was prompted to provide my credit card information. The same thing occurred when I wanted to send my ACT scores to universities, and it happened yet again at the post office when I asked to send my transcripts through priority mail.

It’s ridiculous that money must be given to institutions at every step of the college applications process, especially because the chances of getting accepted are unknown. It doesn’t make sense that people would need to pay so much money to apply to colleges that might not accept them.ilanaimo

Paying money for college applications is similar to gambling. Students are taking a chance and testing their luck by paying for applications to schools they may not even end up attending.

Although I am very fortunate and my family can afford the expenses of applying, it is unfair that schools would require that much from applicants. Even though fees can be waived, it is unnecessary to have such a large fee when many schools can use the same system to access application materials.

For example, I applied to Syracuse and Northwestern through the Common Application, and both schools required separate payments of $75. Then I had to order my SAT and ACT scores, which totaled $46.50, and then I mailed my transcripts from the post office for a total of $10. All of this comes to a ridiculous sum. Of course it was my choice to send my transcripts through priority mail and to send my two standardized test scores, but nevertheless the process of applying to just two universities would have been expensive.

I am not even done applying to all of the schools I would like, but I might have to limit myself due to the price. It would be more reasonable for universities to require payments after a decision is made, thus giving applicants a chance to think about whether or not they will be attending and would like to invest money.

Having to pay application fees is like paying for entrance into a store. Shoppers aren’t sure whether or not they will buy anything in the store, or if it is worth their time, but they are required to provide funds before they can look around. In the real world, employees don’t have to pay to send resumes to employers who might not even hire them, so why is it fair for colleges to set a high price for applicants? This is not logical or realistic.

Although I am taking a gamble and spending a lot of money in the process, if I am accepted to all of the schools I applied to it will be worth it.

 

 

 

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Opinion: Reminiscing on last first day of school brings nostalgia

BY BRITTANY ZEIDEL

MANAGING EDITOR

Like many other juniors who took AP English Language and Composition last year, I read the essay, “Once More to the Lake,” by E.B. White. The synopsis of this essay goes as follows: a man returns to the lake that he used to visit as a child with his father but now returns with his own child. The man is overwhelmed with nostalgia and awe as he begins to see his father in himself and himself in the child, since the roles have changed as time progressed.

Now I am a senior and I, like the man, am returning once more to the Bay, as he returned in “Once More to the Lake.”

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On my last first day of high school, I entered campus in bold strides because, after all, it was the fourth time that I’ve had a first day of high school. I felt confident, I felt ready and I felt self-assured.  But soon enough, I realized the class of 2014 was not alone as my eyes connected with those of the scared, the anxious and the new. Not only was it my last first day of high school but it was also the first first day of high school for the freshmen, Class of 2017.

Flashback to what feels like a decade ago, the year 2010, which was my freshman year. I had the exact same set of scared, anxious, and new eyes that the new freshmen are sporting now in 2013.  I had been a freshman and up until a very short time ago, I still felt like one.

Continuing in that flashback, I can also remember the Senior Class of 2011.  They all looked so big and scary, especially on my first day, with their facial hair and calm, unaffected expressions. Is that how the freshmen see us now?  Have we become the people we used to fear?

As time progresses – and oh, boy did it progress fast –the roles have changed. Four years passed, and not only did I grow into a senior in high school, but I grew into myself.

My advice to the Class of 2017 is to utilize and appreciate the next four years that are offered here because the Bay is truly a home and a place to grow, learn and experience that will mold you into the person you want to be but never thought you’d actually become.  As I returned, once more to the Bay, for my last time as a student, I recognize how I once was that freshman and now I am that senior.

I wish when I was a freshman I knew how fast my high school years would dissolve into memories and how quickly I would morph into the full-fledged senior that I thought would always evade my innocent, freshman self.

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