Not the time to slide

Posted: January 27, 2012

Are you a senior slacker or over-achiever?

Brigid Kelly, Talon staff writer

Alright, seniors – it’s finally second semester – the last semester of our high school careers. It’s time for the lasts of the lasts, the final hurrahs and the ultimate goodbyes. But don’t be fooled by the clichés. For some of us, it’s also the time to pull out our pens. Are you ready to cut your parents a check for $7,870? Probably not.

Okay, we get it. Most of us seniors have already survived standardized testing, submitted all of our college applications and, for the most part, proven that we can make it through Minnehaha’s high school curriculum. Shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t those accomplishments excuse any symptoms of the senior slide that might turn up this semester? The short and sweet answer is a simple, “no”. No, we still have $7,870 worth of an education left at Minnehaha. And no, it’s not enough to make it through seven semesters of high school – for more reasons than you might think.

It’s often identified by laziness, lack of focus and/or motivation, excessive wearing of old sweatpants and/or sweatshirts, sudden interest in a large number of various Redhawk sporting events and the ability to shave four minutes off of your morning commute (only after leaving your house at 8:30 a.m.).

The symptoms above lead to just one conclusion – the senior slide.

“Not only did you not read the chapter, but you didn’t bring the book and you don’t know where the book is – or your backpack for that matter,” said economics and philosophy teacher David Hoffner while describing what he sees of the problem.

We’re stuck. It’s almost as if we’re in this world of limbo falling between our final semester in high school and an entirely new adventure most of us will embark on this fall. It’s distracting to say the least, but it’s not an excuse to give up on school.

“It’s a dangerous occurrence because the students who experience senior slide don’t always realize the negative implications,” said College and Guidance Counselor Richard Harris. “I have had students who have allowed their grades to slip to the point where the acceptances they have received from colleges have been rescinded.”

While rescinded offers may be an extreme consequence, they do happen. Your acceptance letters are technically tentative, along with financial aid packages and scholarships you might be offered.

And yes, all colleges do look at our second semester grades. They are reported with our final transcripts that are requested by all schools to prove that we’ve actually graduated.

For some seniors, however, the challenge might be to stop working endlessly before this experience ends, the last semester of high school means so much more than grades, right?

In four months, the peers that surround us each and every day – and in some cases, our best friends – may never be in the same place at the same time again. This is the last time we will ever be 17 or 18 years old, living under our parents’ roof as a high school student under the protection of Minnehaha Academy. This is the last opportunity to savor what’s meaningful and put the finishing touches on our legacy.

For some of us, our finest memories will be formed between today and the second we ship off for college in the fall. Take the time to let those memories happen.

“What are you going to remember in five or ten years?” said English teacher Kristofor Sauer. “You can’t be so narrow-minded to make academia your entire life. There needs to be a balance and a perspective there.”

It comes down to that simple word – balance – and it’s different for everyone. Some of us need to learn how to push through this semester with more focus than ever before, but others need to take this time to lessen the pressure on the pedal and take the occasional breath to appreciate what’s around us.

It might mean taking a step back from focusing on grades and percentages with the intent of appreciating knowledge in a different light.

“School isn’t just about scores, grades or points; the stakes are way higher,” said Hoffner. “It’s about the process of wanting to learn more about who we are, who God is and what we should do with [our lives]. If you look at school with that in mind, you wouldn’t want to blow it off.”

Imagine this: we’re running a race and the outcome has already been determined. We’re still in the midst of our high school marathon, but most of us already know where we’re headed just months from now – we know how the race is going to end. Why should we keep running?

Even when he already knows how a swim event might end, senior Van Donkersgoed keeps swimming.

“I finish because I learn from it,” explained Donkersgoed. “Learning is essential to growth.”

Instead of getting sucked into the cycle of procrastination, apathy and lackadaisical attitudes, let’s focus on finishing well. Let’s finish with integrity, character, humbleness, kindness, respect and selflessness. Lets finish our high school careers with growth – together.

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