The Final Countdown: Reflections from seniors, teachers, faculty on the end of the school year
BY WENDY ALTSCHULER For Sun-Times Media
A hug goodbye: Seniors at Loyola Academy in Wilmette are preparing for graduation by reflecting on school activities and classes as well as the relationships they've built over the years. | SUPPLIED PHOTO
The school year is wrapping up and seniors are preparing for graduation. They are reflecting on their experience and taking in sage advice from their peers, teachers, coaches and members of the Loyola Academy community.
Brimming with excitement during her final weeks of high school, senior Monay Robinson, said, “It has gone by extremely fast. Throughout my senior year I have been making closer friendships and memories with the people I’m going to miss the most next year.”
Senior Charlie Schufreider, a performer in the spring musical, said that his senior year has been nothing but enjoyable and as the year comes to a close, he has taken the stress-free route of managing his time well and taking things in stride.
“I find myself allotting more time for myself, rather than stressing out about every tiny, school-related detail. I may not have said that back in October when deadlines for essays and applications were haunting me,” said Schufreider. “I have formed relationships with my classmates, teachers, and coaches, which will certainly make it hard to leave.”
Seniors are dealing with impending graduation by taking time to value and remember how they’ve grown at Loyola Academy over the years.
“My friends and I have been swapping stories of those oh-so-awkward freshman phases; the times when we had braces and wouldn’t even make eye contact with our peers-I practically memorized the Loyola floor patterns that year,” said Catherine Frehe, a senior about to graduate with her triplet sisters. “We’ve been sharing good memories these last weeks.”
Gavin Sullivan said that his senior year has been the busiest and best year he’s ever had-classes, extra curricular activities, sports, applying to colleges and taking standardized tests have consumed much of his time. He has kept a level head by thinking about his post-Loyola life.
“College seems to have neared the forefront of my attention. I’m excited for my next chapter, and I’m blessed to be weighing my options at several great schools for next year. I also realize that my time at Loyola is not yet complete, and many milestones stand between now and graduation,” said Sullivan. “Nothing reminds me that I’m still in high school like realizing that a barrage of tests and projects will be arriving in the coming weeks. I still manage to enjoy the work, and keep my attention focused on the present.”
Senior Mary Therese Forsyth has brought her awareness to her personal relationships with her family, friends and teachers as she prepares for graduation.
“It’s beginning to sink in that I only have a little time left, so I’m trying to not let the days with classmates and teachers slip by,” said Forsyth. “As ready as I feel for college, I don’t want to take all of the fabulous people I’ve met throughout high school for granted. I’ve been trying to appreciate all of the creature comforts of home, as well.”
Students aren’t the only ones preparing for senior graduation at Loyola Academy. Fran Maloney, the theology department chair, said that these days are tough ones for seniors because they’re excited to leave and go to college but they’re also nervous about the reality of leaving their familiar surroundings.
“They are more eager in these final weeks to talk about life in general, and they seem to need a little more individual attention and affirmation than in the preceding months,” said Maloney. “I find myself spending a bit more time talking to students in the hallways and our conversations often center on their future, what they should expect and general ways of dealing with the challenges of college life.”
In her class, Maloney asks her students to do some deep reflection. “It’s about more than simply choosing an occupation or career; it’s about how they can live lives of meaning. As they prepare to graduate and move out into the world, they have already begun to explore who they are called to be,” said Maloney.
English teacher, Tim Kane has been preparing students for the final weeks of school by teaching them to remember that the year is technically hasn’t ended yet. He encourages his students to think about the following year as well and focus on the next stage of their academic careers-the hard work they are doing now will pay off later.
“We have been making sure our students are continuing to develop the skills they will need to succeed in college and beyond,” said Kane. “Reading, writing, projects, tests, quizzes, and class discussions will continue up until the last day. These last few weeks will hopefully help make the transition to next year a smooth one.”
Kay Gregg, assistant director of campus ministry, said, “Throughout the year we have been preparing students to really embrace their last year: spending time with the friends that they really care about, letting go of high school drama, stepping up to positions of leadership, and trying new things.”
“As we near the end of the school year, our message continues to be the same: find things you love, don’t forget about those who have walked this journey with you, and remember that the entire Loyola Academy community will be here to support you as you move forward,” said Gregg.