Senior Goodbye: Of memes and memories


Courtesy of Michelle Larson

Benjamin Nopper lightheartedly flips his baseball bat, pretending to hit a home run.

When we walk into the high school for the first time as wide-eyed freshmen, we are dismayed by our more mature peers and the fact that there are actually vending machines in the cafeteria.

When we get ready to walk out of the building four years later (well, maybe more like 3.5), we are enticed by the vast obscurity of the future and hopeful that we established a foundation that will direct us toward success in the real world. Our best and brightest days are still ahead of us, but so are our biggest battles. 

High school is undoubtedly an interesting period in all of our lives. We meet new people, we face new challenges, and most importantly, we learn a lot about ourselves. I would describe my own high school experience as a journey of personal growth along with growing pains, but I found the journey to be enjoyable nonetheless.

With that being said, I would like to share a few pieces of advice that enabled me to make the most out of my high school experience.

Love the people around you

One of the biggest blessings I had in high school was that my freshman year overlapped with my brother Will’s senior year. He drove me to school every day, took me to football games, and shared his friends with me. Not once did he complain about having to do these things.

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself I would try to reciprocate that generosity toward others. I invested in my friends, colleagues and teachers, and in return, I walked away with so much more than I could have possibly imagined.

In the end, I promise you will not remember your SAT score, your class rank, your varsity batting average, or any other trivial, fleeting matter. When the dust settles, you will be left with the memories you shared with the people around you (especially the silly ones), and that is why high school is a special time.

Open up your involvement

As I mentioned, high school is about finding out who you are, and there is no better way to do that than immersing yourself in the different organizations the school has to offer. At best, you will find your best friends, and at worst, you walk away with a learning experience.

After winning the Mr. Lovejoy school pageant for his presentation titled “Why I Should Be Mr. Lovejoy,” Nopper waves to the student body. (Grace Nguyen)

I remember being so hesitant to join the school paper, but it turned out to be the best decision I made in high school. I discovered my passion for writing and public speaking and learned how to operate in a professional working environment.

View everyone as equal

Through my experience serving on the student council and serving on student advisory panels, I think our biggest problem in high school is that we have the misconception that we are too cool for each other. The tragedy of this is that we form social cliques and pretend to be people we truly are not.

Of course we will have some friends who are closer than others, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, regardless of their so-called social status. It is healthy to reserve judgment, interact with various types of people, and build relationships with them, even if they have different interests or ideas.

Enjoy something about every circumstance

I am not going to lie to you, there are a lot of parts of high school that are not very fun. Some things are challenging, some things are frustrating, and some things are just flat out boring.

I remember how I dreaded going to pre-calculus every day during my sophomore year, but my friends and I started a meme account on Twitter halfway through the year to lighten the mood, and I actually started to enjoy converting radians to degrees.

I remember how I dreaded tedious baseball workouts, but I became such a goofball and made so many inside jokes with my teammates that I actually convinced myself that I was enjoying it.

I remember how I dreaded performing in the Mr. Lovejoy school pageant after my friends signed me up, but I decided to be a good sport and try my best to make the whole school laugh at my totally-not-funny-whatsoever jokes.

As cliche as it sounds, attitude is everything.

Joke and laugh

There is always something to laugh about each day. You might not have a lot in common with your classmates, but laughter is a universal language. Create that meme page, print out that silly photoshop you made of the teacher, and be a good sport when someone gives it right back to you.

Nopper and friend Matthew Piccirillo pose for the cover photo of their podcast, “Jungle Java,” which provided news for the community and accrued over 4,000 listeners. (Grace Nguyen)

Laugh with others. Laugh at yourself. Laugh.

Observe the success of others

I was extremely blessed to have so many role models to look up to in high school. I looked up to my brother so much. I was inspired by Brandon Merrill and wanted to be like him. My first editor-in-chief, Nick Smith, taught me so much about how to be a leader in the newsroom. I continue to be amazed by the leadership of Dr. Goddard and admire the character he embodies.

There are so many others who made an impact on my high school experience. It is so helpful to identify role models and follow in their footsteps, and I just hope that maybe I was able to do that for someone else in high school.

You have a voice

We should all be proud of our school. At times I was critical of it because I wanted to see it succeed so badly.  If you think something should be improved, petition your administrators and respectfully speak out for what you believe.

Even if you don’t realize it, you have a voice that matters in your school. It takes courage. But your high school experience matters. You matter.