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Spring a time of major changes, challenges for area high school seniors

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2003

When I was a kid, this was always the toughest time of year.

School isn't quite out, yet the sun stays shining until 10 p.m. It's warm, but not warm enough to go hopping in any lakes. And unless you're after hooligan, there aren't many fish to be found.

That's the worst for me: this seemingly endless thaw period, when all you can do is putter around in the garage, fiddle with tackle and look at pictures of last summer's catch.

But it doesn't last long. Already we've got our daily high temperatures back to T-shirt wearing levels. The ice is off the lakes. And I've already seen a couple cars pulled off the side of the Kenai Spur Highway taking pictures of moose Anchorage people.

What I'm trying to say is that it's nice to be finally knocking off the rust of winter, but it would be nicer if summer already were here.

For one group of people however, the spring is the best time of all. If you're a high school senior, these last few days before summer vacation are like living on borrowed time.

Graduation announcements already have been sent out, caps and gowns are in, yearbooks are getting signed and in just a few short days, the hellish march of forced education will come to an end.

I happen to know a couple graduating seniors this year. For the past week, they've been walking around with the biggest, dumbest grins I've seen this side of a St. Bernard. About the same amount of drooling, too.

I can just imagine how much school work they're getting these days. If things are still the way I remember them, I'm guessing those seniors are spending a lot more time in places like the photo lab, gym and McDonald's than they're spending in class. Can you blame 'em?

All the hard work is finally done. The millions of math problems, acres of homework and 12 or 13 years worth of nagging teachers have been conquered. No more wondering what to wear on the first day. No more trying to remember your locker combination. No more ... school! The standardized test bubbles have all been filled in (completely, in number 2 pencil).

I can't help feeling a little bit sorry for these seniors, though. After all, in just a few short months, they go from being top dogs to the lowest runt in the litter.

Just as its inevitable that the salmon will begin swimming up the Kenai in a matter of days, its also an inescapable fact that the summer will eventually come to an end.

That's the scary part about the spring, especially if you're just about to leave the protection of the school, the place that's been your home since you were 6 years old.

Those graduating seniors I mentioned earlier? Well, I also see a sliver of fear sneaking into their eyes. It's almost like they know the countdown to the last day of school is also a countdown to the the end of their childhood. That's a scary thing to think about.

Questions about the future run endlessly through the mind of a high school senior: What will college be like? What about the job market? Credit cards? Loans? How do you rent an apartment? Pay taxes? Cook???

Chill.

All those questions (and many, many more) will be answered eventually. For the time being, the best advice I can give anyone about to graduate is this: Don't worry about a thing. Enjoy the sun. Skip Spanish and go to the beach. Skip home economics and have a picnic. Argue politics with your teachers. Wear shades.

Enjoy the fact that for the next few days, you're still kids. And remember to take lots of pictures. It might seem like it's no big deal now, but trust me, you'll want to remember this spring. Because summer will go fast, and then it will all be over.

Good luck to all the members of the class of 2003. Congratulations.

Matt Tunseth is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.



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