Change is Inevitable: Six Years in the Lives of Seventh Graders and Seniors

Lilly LaRocca- 12th grade

As students reach new milestones, like senior year and seventh grade, they start to reflect on their accomplishments. To get a better understanding of what students have to overcome, the NightWatch Newspaper posed questions to the seniors and seventh graders at Park Ridge High School to see what they believed were the highlights of their past six years.

Seventh graders, Ishwar, Balraj, and Bennett, and seniors, Lilly, Desera, and Amanda reflect on their development of character over the past six years. To begin, the interviewees were asked how they developed as a person in the past six years. They all agreed upon the fact that they learned and matured a lot as the years passed. Seventh grader, Bennett Adel, went into depth on this topic saying how he has learned to accept “that people are better than [him] at certain things,” that they have more practice in and that it is fine to ask for help from those who are more skilled in an effort to improve yourself. Amanda Hopper also noted that she “gained confidence, … and [became] more talkative.” This growth of mental strength is found in many students as they find their own identity and become their “own individual person” as Lilly LaRocca reflected. This development of character is fueled by major events and decisions in a student’s life. Balraj says that one of the biggest events for him was that he ”won a national doubles tournament” and Ishwar expands upon that saying that he was proud he “decided to stick with tennis” and was “getting better at [it]”.

“I gained confidence … and [became] more talkative”

— Amanda Hopper, 12th Grade

Having strong and healthy relationships helped these students build a better image of themselves. Bennett articulated that his best decision was when he “helped out in the mornings at East Brook to open car doors for them.” This allowed him to reach out to the younger students of his school community. All three seniors agreed that joining a club like Girl Scouts or Marching Band was a big moment for them to develop relationships with others. Both Amanda and Bennett felt that the death of their family members took a big toll on them. The passing of his grandparents really resonated with Bennett, forcing him to realize that he “can’t take my loved ones for granted.” Relationships that students develop with their teachers, friends, and family helped make these changes easier to handle. Bennett thanks his “kindergarten and first grade teacher[s] … [because] they helped [him] to realize [his] love of reading.”

As Amanda, Desera, Lilly, Bennett, Balraj, and Ishwar go on to face new obstacles and changes, they were asked to advise the younger kids who are going to have a similar journey. Ishwar says students should “Always do [their] best in everything [they] do, and strive [to be] better” as elementary school “was a good experience which helps for the future.” Balraj explained that this time of his life was “short and fun” and wants others to “embrace it” by “following [their] dreams”. Upperclassmen, on the other hand encouraged students to try hard without over exerting themselves. Desera says that since the time period between seventh and twelfth grade was “annoying and hectic” students should learn to “relax” and take “one piece of the puzzle at a time.” Seniors, Amanda and Lilly, are looking towards their future in college. Amanda hopes to “get good grades in [her] classes, try [to] be very involved in school activities, and get into college for [her] major.” Lilly adds that she also wants “to finish [her] gold award… and ultimately become a Trauma or ER Nurse.”

My time between seventh and twelfth grade was “annoying and hectic” and students should learn to “relax” and take “one piece of the puzzle at a time.”

— Desera Carr, 12th Grade

To get a better understanding of what they have overcome, Ishwar, Balraj, Bennett, Lilly, Desera, and Amanda were asked to reflect on their development over the past six years to explain what they took away from it. They highlighted how they have learned, matured, strengthened relationships, and developed a greater character as they went down a path to develop their unique identity. They also talk about how other people in their lives helped them have a smoother change and gave advice to other students who are going to walk down a very similar path that they did. Their advice encouraged students to to be an individual who follows their dreams, get involved with the community, and to remember that a minor set-back is not going to be the end of the world as long as they work hard and enjoy their time in school. These pieces of advice are very important as students can use them to set goals and know where to go for support.