My High School Experience


Bridgette Woodward, Editor

High School– four years of unexpected adventures, new friends, new experiences and possibly some of the hardest things to get through. It also is the end of the beginning. My high school years were not at all planned out, and I took every day one step at a time, never knowing what was going to happen next.

Starting from the very beginning, freshman year I attended Carson High School. I was always excited at the idea of being in high school; younger me always looked up to everyone who was in high school. I watched how differently and more mature they acted. I wished time would go by faster. That year went by horribly slow, because as soon as I became a freshman I wanted to be a sophomore. My freshman year was when COVID hit, so during the second semester when two weeks turned into three, then three into the rest of the school year online, I was excited at first– who wouldn’t be? We were getting to sleep more during the day, and not having to go to school and sit in uncomfortable chairs all day, but as time went on doing online school work, I realized I could not learn like that. I needed to hear it and be more involved with activities because I couldn’t teach myself.

Then came sophomore year. During the first semester we were still online, and I still struggled with learning. It was noticeable with my grades constantly going down. Already I was ready for things to go back to normal; I missed seeing friends and sitting in the uncomfortable chairs. I also wanted to go back to being a freshman. I missed how things were and I started hating the feeling of growing up so fast, considering I was halfway through my high school career. I couldn’t tell whether I wanted time to speed up or slow down. I also was never part of any clubs. I hung out with one really close friend both freshman and sophomore year. During the second semester we were finally back in school, but on a very weird schedule. Half the school went one day and the other half went the next, and it continued like that for the rest of the time I was there. At the end of my sophomore year, I moved here to Illinois. I didn’t like the thought of going to a new school; I was worried I wouldn’t make new friends, and my last two years of high school would be a huge bust. I finished out my sophomore year in a small class doing more online work. I was losing hope in high school; I didn’t want to go to college, and I didn’t want to make any friends or be in any way shape or form involved with school. 

That all changed my junior year.  Although we still had to wear masks, it was my first year that was in person. My grades were a lot better, and I started getting excited to be in school again. I also started making friends and joined the Library Forum club; things started going well. Towards the end of the school year my grades started to slip, but I was ready for summer and was losing focus. During that time I was put into a study group to help my grades go up, and the teacher in the class was a huge help. He pushed me to do better because he knew I could do it. He also talked me into wrestling practices. It was an off season at the time but they had just started practices. I never was a big sports fan, and out of all the sports, the last one I wanted to do was wrestling. That attitude definitely did not last long though. He asked me to go to practice for two weeks and see whether I liked it or not. If I didn’t, he would never talk about it again or try to encourage me to join. If I did enjoy it, I could possibly join the wrestling team. The reason he pushed so much was because they had finally gotten a co-ed team and wanted more girls to join. I finally caved and went to practice. At first I was nervous and didn’t want to do anything but stand and watch. That didn’t go too well though, and I had to join in. Immediately I loved it. Something about just rolling around on the floor, the stretches, the other students who didn’t have a single judgmental bone in their body was so comforting and it made me feel at ease. I started going every time they held a practice, each time falling more in love with the sport. 

That’s where senior year comes in. I planned on going to Robinson again that year, but my mom had other plans. We ended up moving to Palestine, and I was enrolled in Palestine High School the day before the school year started. I was not at all happy about the idea of being a new student again, especially as a senior. Not only was I upset about not being a part of the Robinson wrestling team anymore, I was nervous about how the year was going to go in general. Would I spend my entire senior year by myself, not making any friends and staying way too deep in my comfort zone? News flash, not at all. The first shock of Palestine was how many students there were. When my brother James and I were enrolled, I was the 98th student. Over time it got over 100, but still it was insane how little of a school group it was. It gave me hope, though, that I would easily make friends, and I was right. I sat next to Hannah Miller on my first day and she let me sit with her table during lunch. I connected really well with everyone there. I was no longer worried about making friends. Everyone here was genuinely so nice and went out of their way to get to know me and make me feel involved. It wasn’t at all hard getting to know at least a little bit about everyone because it’s such a small group of high schoolers. I felt welcomed completely, I enjoyed my classes too, even though some of my credits didn’t transfer properly. Eventually, I joined a few clubs, stepping more out of my comfort zone. I had done it before and it didn’t end horribly, and even then I knew that if I didn’t enjoy a club I could at least say I tried. During Homecoming week I really put myself out there. The different classes had floats to make for the Homecoming parade. We didn’t do anything like this at my other schools. I enjoyed seeing the constant teamwork from the school and how much pride everyone had for it. Being able to get to know the other seniors better felt amazing, and I also loved how competitive each class was towards each other because it helped bring each class together to show their best features. As the year went on, I didn’t realize how fast it was going. I let myself step all the way out of my comfort zone and not a single day did I regret it. I didn’t mind trying something new because there was nothing to be worried about. I knew that if I embarrassed myself, people wouldn’t judge, and we’d be able to laugh about it together. The biggest step I took this year was joining the Drama Club. I had never been on an actual stage in front of more than 20 people, so I was definitely scared. That didn’t stop me though. I went to every practice but a few and as it got closer to opening night, I was more excited than nervous. I also had to switch parts because the original chef got sick the week before opening night. I loved the part, but I was nervous about the lines I pushed through though. After the play, I got so many compliments from everyone, it felt amazing and I then knew I wanted to be in the spring play, and I was. Towards the end of this year I missed a lot of school. Things at home got a little rocky, but I knew school was always a safe place where I didn’t have to worry about anything but school and being a teen. I always had something to look forward to when it came to school. Whether it was friends, something exciting going on, or just some time being away from home. Some of the highlights of this year included all the school dances. It didn’t matter if there were certain groups who stayed and danced together, there was always a few songs the whole school would join together on. The first dance I didn’t know what was happening– no one warned me– but it was an amazing experience. The second dance I wasn’t expecting it to happen again, but by the third I was fully prepared, and after that I looked forward to it. I had never felt so involved in school activities, after joining a few clubs, seeing the way the student body as a whole and our separate classes all joined together and worked together; it felt like a whole new version of the meaning home. 

All the times I wished for time to go by faster I definitely regret. I wish I could have spent my entire high school career here at Palestine High School, surrounded by the friends I now consider family. There wasn’t a day of the first three years of high school that I would change if it meant my senior year would have been any different. Even on the worst of days, I had things that I could look back on or look forward to. Each friend I made, each senior activity, each school dance I have so many highlights that I can look back on when things get rough. The biggest thing I get to say now, is that no matter what I went through, good or bad, I made it. If I could give anyone advice about high school, it would be not to wish for it to go faster, step out of your comfort zone and have fun with it. You’re stuck here for four years anyways, you might as well enjoy it while you are here. This is Bridgette Woodward signing out.