Paige’s Senior Farewell Column: We’re All In This Together


Paige Maki

Paige Maki will be attending DePaul University next school year.

Paige Maki, Entertainment Editor

Entering high school I think everyone to some extent imagines their next four years to live up to the romanticized Hollywood classic coming of age experience. You go into high school with the expectation that those will be some of the best years of your life. Then without fail, the typical “this was nothing like High School Musical” quote reemerges as each class of seniors reflects on their high school years realizing that their experience wasn’t that of the idealized high school movies they grew up watching. 

However, as graduation approaches and I look back at my time at North, my memories seem to become more and more cinematic. While I concur that I never danced around the school belting the lyrics to “We’re All In This Together,” reflecting on the experiences and lessons I’ve collected over my four years at North, I can’t help but relate to the quintessential coming of age ending where the main character looks back at all the moments that led them there. 

As I comb through the tangled mess that is my high school experience, I seem to get caught in one Monday afternoon in the middle of August, otherwise known as my first Stargazer staff meeting. I remember my wariness of joining a club I knew nothing about, the fear I experienced as I stepped outside of my comfort zone and the dread for my first interview like it was yesterday. I didn’t know it at the time but it was through that risk that I completely altered and widened my perspective on life. The more I interviewed people, the more I realized how little I knew about my peers and their stories. In my longest interview to date, I talked to someone I’ve known since elementary school but quickly realized that despite going to school with her for half of my life I knew very little about her or her story. 

It’s through the Stargazer that I’ve come to realize how important it is to talk to people outside of your social circle, explore topics foreign to you and search for alternative perspectives. Having lived in St. Charles my entire life, it’s easy to get caught in the bubble at times, abandoning stories and issues that lie outside our community. However, the most important lesson I’ve learned in high school is the importance of making efforts to widen your perspective and explore learning opportunities inside and outside of your community. Making conscious efforts to broaden your perspective is perhaps the most important thing you can do in high school because outside your bubble and comfort zone is where real learning begins.

Not only has my perspective changed throughout my time at North, but the world has as well. While reflecting on my time in high school, it’s impossible to do so without reflecting on the pandemic. This has been an unusual year, to say the least, that has caused the class of 2021 to miss out on some of the big Hollywood movie moments like Homecoming week and senior traditions. However, it was inspiring to see how my peers and teachers adapted to bring some normalcy to this very unusual year. 

This year has taught me the importance of collectivism. From wearing masks so we can keep each other safe to Student Council planning senior events to teachers altering their lesson plans as they accommodated all learning formats, we have worked as a collective to make this year run as smoothly as possible. As we move forward, it’s important to remember this collective mindset as we now can get vaccinated, and this is a mindset we should carry with us to help each other through whatever life throws at us. After all “we are all in this together.”

However, possibly the most important lesson I’ve taken away from these last four years I learned just recently. As I’m now graduating and preparing for college I had to make possibly my hardest decisions yet: my college decision. Growing up, movies have always fed me the idea of a dream school, so I always believed that when it came time, the decision would be obvious. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

As I struggled to make a decision, I quickly went from being confident in all my options to questioning whether I liked any of them. Insignificant factors like college ranking and acceptance rate began to cloud my judgment. I wondered if I would be wasting all my hard work in high school if I didn’t go to the school with a lower acceptance rate. Competition is ingrained in the college process and as I tried to make a decision I felt as though I had to reprogram my mind to prevent my college decision from determining my self-worth. For this reason, I’m proud of my decision to attend the college where I will thrive and not the one with better statistics. However, I would be lying if I said I felt 100% confident in my decision because I don’t know what my future holds. I only know what feels right to me at this moment and I’ll see where that takes me. 

The best advice I could give high schoolers is to not go through high school with the purpose of building your resume. High school is about making the most of the opportunities offered to you, making memories and learning lessons along the way. If you think about it, high school is like the movies, but a really long one with a million ups and downs, so treat it like one. However, unlike in movies, graduation isn’t the ending. It’s just the teaser trailer for the sequel 🙂