By: Natasha Derezinski-Choo

The end of summer is officially here. For me, this also means that my senior year of high school has begun, and I am troubled by the question, how did we get here? When the topic enters conversation, I find myself reminiscing with friends about the past three years. We are all wondering, "How did we get here? and Where did all of that time go?" However, the most important question is not about how we arrived, but, "Where do we go from here?" It is this issue that makes senior year such a pinnacle part of high school. So, to answer the question "Where do I go from here?"- I put together a list of personal, academic, and lifestyle goals for this year.

  1. Be Myself: Personally, high school has been a time where I have explored what it means to be myself. Adolescence is a time when a person begins to become self-conscious, which can at times be difficult if this entails a decrease in confidence or the pressure to conform to social norms. However, when I began high school and started a new school with new people, I also started to shed my shyness and to act more like myself around others rather than follow what I believed was expected of me. This year, as I finish the last year of high school and begin to make concrete decisions about my future, I plan to continue working on being comfortable being myself and deciding how my actions can better reflect the type of person I want to be.
  2. Start a Volunteer-Based Club: Throughout high school, I have been involved in volunteerism, through both school clubs and community organizations. This year, I am working on starting a club in my own school to incorporate service work where students can help other students in our school community with completing writing assignments and learning proofreading skills. 
  3. Meet Someone New: I am always looking to meet and interact with new people. I have been going to school with the same group of people and have many good friends, but there are still people in our school community I do not recognize. Regardless of who your friends are now, new friends can still be made in unexpected ways, and I hope that this year I will continue to cherish old friendships and start some new ones too.
  4. Track Volunteer Hours: I began tracking my service-learning hours in high school because of the service-learning diploma program in our district. Since then, volunteering has become more than checking off a box. It has become a vital and meaningful part of my life. Hour-tracking is also my way of looking at my impact on the community. I plan to document all my hours before graduation to earn recognition for my service work and to view my progress over four years. 
  5. College Applications: This is a pretty daunting process, but now there is no avoiding it.  My goal is to manage my time, submit the best representation of myself possible, and to avoid leaving everything to the last minute.
  6. Read More: Each year, school becomes more difficult and challenging. I think I spend less and less time reading for leisure because of a demanding schedule. Sometimes the large amount of reading I do for school takes away from reading I would like to do for myself. However, I think there are many benefits to reading, and I am usually adding more books to the list I want to read than the ones I am currently reading. I want to make time for the leisure reading I once had time for daily. (Check out some of these interesting reads on volunteerism and social good). 
  7. Say Thank YouThe person I am today and the path my life will take after senior year is the culmination of the time and attention of many important mentors and teachers. I intend to express or reiterate my appreciation to these people for helping me have a successful and fulfilling high school experience.
  8. Give Back: Since freshman year, volunteerism has become an increasingly important part of my life. This goal goes along with the previous in that volunteering is a way of saying thank you by giving back to the community. This year will be no different, and I will continue to volunteer and search for new organizations to engage in service. 
  9. Cope with Stress: School is like a never-ending to-do list, and sometimes there are moments when it does not seem possible to complete everything in the time I have. I am usually pretty good at managing stress. For me, the best way to manage stress is to realize that being overly anxious does not ameliorate a situation. Time management is also a way I effectively manage stress. This year I want to expand my management of stress from a mental approach to a physical approach by exercising more and trying to be more balanced health-wise.
  10. Keep in Touch: After graduation, we will all begin to go our separate ways. With today’s technology and social media, keeping in contact with old friends is easier than ever. However, when I say “keep in touch,” I mean more than just the occasional “selfie” in my newsfeed. What I mean by “keep in touch” is having meaningful conversations and making sure not to lose contact with the people close to me. 
  11. Appreciate Each Moment: There are many events, traditions, and milestones that take place in high school; at our school this includes events such as spirit week, prom, senior tea, convocation, graduation, etc. It will be the last or only chance to savour these memories, and I intend on making the best of each moment. 

What are your goals for this school year?  How do you plan achieve them and calculate your progress?  Share in the comments below. 

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