By Stephanie Hai and Katrina Sun ‘22
Over the course of the history of this column, we’ve debunked myths such as reverse racism, demystifying school advice, and now, dissecting the high school movie trope.
I was sitting in my therapist’s office when I told her why I felt so surprisingly unfamiliar with this school year. I watched the years above me embody the pinnacle of high school; weekend bonding events, crab walk races in the glass room, and collective banter among the hallways. Younger grades would move aside out of fear for the sharks, ready to demolish them at any given moment. This was a pattern that was always associated with being a senior. But this year was different. On Brain Cell Banter’s first day, Stephanie got mistaken as a Grade 8. Katrina wore her braids and looked like she was in Grade 9. Our grad jackets felt too big, and us, too small. COVID took a dent into our grade’s unity and character, and we’re only reviving it now.
My sister, Samantha, graduated in a time where social media wasn’t a profession (this is not a diss). Conversations felt less political to a certain extent, and the world weighed less. Granted, a pandemic wasn’t present; however, I always compared my high school life to hers. I achieved everything I wanted to: getting my drivers license, becoming a prefect, and having fun during my spares. I studied her high school life extensively, doing similar things and thinking it would mirror her life and provide me with unforgettable experiences. I called this the “High School Movie”. Though I thought this would be the ultimate goal, I quickly realized it deteriorated how things just came to be, and how my personal growth was on a different trajectory.
Recently, I feel like I’ve been aging backwards. I wear hair clips like a toddler, use a Hello Kitty pen to do my homework, and even have crying fits when I’m sad. I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed per se, more confused by why I feel like this when I’m supposed to be in grade 12. In a way, this weird phenomenon has pushed me to think of what I was actually like in grade 8, and how much I’ve changed.
Back then, I imagined how I would feel as a grade 12 student. Melancholic? Nostalgic? Confused? Joyous? In reality, it’s all of these feelings at once. I always had expectations for how I would maximize my high school experience. For a long time, I thought academic satisfaction would be enough. Gradually, I’ve come to realize that high school is much more than a mark in the grade book, or the awards on my college application.
In grade 10, I fretted over social situations. Never really the life of the party, I wondered if I would be forgotten by my classmates after graduation. Suddenly, when the pandemic took control of my social life, there was nothing I could do. It made me want to cherish those pre-COVID moments more, and made me grateful for whatever semblance of a high school experience we had.
Being in grade 12 is not all that I made it out to be. Yet, more than ever, WGPA’s too-tight hallways, bustling cafeteria, and chaotic glass room feel like home. In my mind, the “High School Movie” has transcended traditional party scenes, driving montages, and teen angst. Instead, it has become the amalgamation of conversations, moments, and emotions that together form an experience entirely unique to our existence as the class of 2022.
Both of us are still navigating how high school should be approached. Even though we don’t feel as old as we saw the Grade 12s in Grade 8, we’ve learned to make new experiences and goals. Nervous grade 8’s in the hallways shouldn’t define traditions, nor should everything the pandemic ended up taking away from our high school movie. We’ve found a sense of satisfaction in between pockets of university stress and glass room banter (a space we fought very hard to get back). Even though the Grade 11s consume Lu’s Lab, we still feel a sense of superiority over them. It’s useless to compare your experiences to those around you, just like how it’s frivolous to compare marks and extracurriculars.
Go at your own pace, make your own experiences, and find satisfaction in what you can control. We hope you have a great year full of brain cell banter!