[dropcap]S[/dropcap]enior year has officially begun. The countdown to graduation has officially started. Thinking about taking senior pictures, ordering a cap and gown, and walking across the field of Fred Kelly - the future will become a reality before I know it. It seemed like just yesterday I was sitting in the gym, on my first day of high school, as Link Crew welcomed up with open arms. The rumors of being smushed into a locker by some senior jock were finally going to be put to rest. Entering to the first class with Mr. Hunt and wondering exactly what class you had signed up for at registration, Honors Biology or Life Choices? Soon, you are at your first high school dance, and high school isn't as scary as it is portrayed in the movies.

But fast-forward to present day, and you find yourself writing Monday Musings and planning for college. Freshmen year seems so long ago. And I almost forgot for a second that in less than nine months, life as we know it will be completely different. Senior Maddie Olsen tweeted from her Twitter account, kinda wanna be a freshman again but also cant wait to get our of high school(@mafddie), the inspiration behind my recent reality check-up.

It was this realization, that we were not longer the underclassmen of the school but instead running the roost, that made me almost long to be a freshman again. Having your first lab practical or celebrating your sweet 16th birthday at school, being young was the best. I expected there to be a class hierarchy and to always feel inferior but I realized by the middle of sophomore year that nobody really cares and just kind of does their own thing,senior and ASB Vice President Ellie Hendrix remarked on the expectations she had entering high school. High school is what you make of it. Everything is your choice,senior Eddie Choi believes.

As much as people say make the most of your high school experience, you only get one, it had not set in. Four years have slipped by like the blink of an eye. I carry some regrets, like not being as involved as I wished to be. Eddie Choi perfectly states that if he had one piece of advice to underclassmen, it would to be more spread out.And this spread, reaching out into different avenues, tended to be something many seniors wish they could have done differently. I would have gotten even more involved from the start and I would have gone to every dance possible instead of not going just because I didn't have a date,Ellie Hendrix reflects, with plans to attend all of her last dances. And dances aren't the only way to be involved. Holly Dirks, senior, wishes she would have gotten involved with ASB [her] freshman year and would have taken harder classes earlier on.

Being a senior, with a minimum of 3 hours of homework a night, I neglected to cherish the nights, especially freshman year, where there was no homework. Seniors Holly Dirks, Dylan Fowler, Connor Hein, Zoe Kuli, and Bryan Lewis all agreed that they miss having little homework and no stress freshmen year. But while the homework load might be more than freshmen year, gaining new friends has been worth all the hours spent late at night. When its too late to even think yet your Chemistry group is powering through to finish the lab on time, that is where you discover friends. Having personally worked with Eddie Choi in those wee hours of the morning, I understand Eddie when he says you discover who your real friends are by senior year.

No one can get through school without friends. They entertain us during class, keep us calm in all situations, and make everyday better. Finding your squadis essential for high school. A group message that never stops talking can be annoying at times, but if you're ever feeling down, thats the first place to go. My friends don't know how important they are to me - I wouldnt be the person I am without each and every one of them. Each have impacted me and who I am. Im eternally grateful.

As October is underway, November is around the corner. Before we know it, Prom season will be upon us and then graduation. It is scary to think about, let alone write about it now. But given the chance to restart my high school experience, I would definitely have to pass. My time spent in the halls of Villa Park have been one for the books. Ellie Hendrix agrees: I wouldn't restart because I'm happy with where I am today and having to go through chemistry again would be rough.And knowing that all of our hard work - blood, sweat, and tears - will finally pay off is a rewarding feeling. Zoe Kuli is happy with where [she] is with her lifeand is happy to see all [her] hard work finally pay off.

Describe your senior year. Senior Jordan Weisenberg had the best response. Its just so lit.And it will continue to be lit. Our high school memories will shine into our future and always been a time when we look back and want to remember our good old Spartan days. 

Then and Now

Pictured: Lauren at her kindergarten graduation (top) and Lauren on her first day of senior year with friends (bottom).

SeniorsLauren Polyakov