Hooks High School Senior Perspective

As the pages of the book of life turn unceasingly, we encounter the many different chapters that make up our own unique story. Of those, few can argue the significance of high school; during this period, the people and experiences we encounter help us mold our identities and determine our direction as we prepare to, inevitably, set off in the world. I was fortunate to have met incredible people that I can call my friends and teachers, and – though it definitely took me a minute – I was able to find the direction I wanted to lead my life.
That said, freshman year was a rough year for me. From the beginning of the first year, I was already burned out. I didn’t hold much motivation; Though my grades didn’t suffer much, I wasn’t interested in improving. I didn’t push myself in class, hang out with friends, or join clubs; I used my after-school job with my parents as an excuse to myself, saying I was too busy. I was nearly completely stagnant. Yet, for some reason I don’t completely understand but am deeply thankful for; I joined Athletics. I was even scrawnier then and didn’t have an ounce of athleticism in my body. I hadn’t played a sport or lifted a weight before. Exactly as you would expect, it was absolutely grueling for me. I still remember the feeling of pushing sleds across the practice field or running what would become the infamous “Hornet Mile”: tremors of exhaustion shot through my legs while I keeled over with my hands slipping on the sweat that ran down my knees, hungrily gasping for breath as the sun relentlessly beat down on my back. I was horrible at everything I attempted and was constantly tempted to quit, but I refused actually to do so. Despite my painfully obvious incompetence, I was not shunned as I had feared but instead encouraged for my efforts and determination (though I would be more inclined to call it stubbornness). Whatever you call it, it served me well as I slowly (very slowly) improved, advancing from horrible to slightly less horrible. The coaches’ guidance led to physical improvement and honed my character as I learned the importance of qualities like discipline. I began to feel a thirst for growth and self-improvement, which started creeping into other areas of my life. However, my incredibly awesome professional-superstar-athlete dreams were soon cut short by COVID-19, forcing everyone into quarantine and completely quenching the fire that had finally been lit. 
Quarantine hit me like a truck. Though I’m not proud to admit it, I crumbled like a piece of paper. Newly burned out, online school was a struggle, and the whole period was a bit of a nightmare for various reasons, though I can’t imagine it was pleasant for anyone. After what appeared to be an eternity or two, school was starting again, and I found myself at square one. Though sophomore year was nothing to write home about, it was our first full year, and I realized I was overdue to think about my future. That thought spurred me to take action; I joined the Student Council and our Mu Alpha Theta Chapter and continued Athletics on the track team. Though the same fire for improvement had sparked to life once again, it led me to a startling realization, coupled with my thoughts about the future: I had no direction. I had no goal. I had no idea who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. Soon, the school year closed, with me still at a loss.
Time continued its perpetual march forward, and with it arrived junior year. I still lacked the answers I sought, but I put them aside soon after being tasked with a year-long scrapbook project in English class. I realized another year could quickly flit by while looking for a grand meaning, so I decided to color my scrapbook with enjoyable memories instead. Though it started small, I found myself reaching outside of my comfort zone more and more, and I couldn’t be more thankful I did. In the process, I made incredible, irreplaceable friends and memories; late night talks at Sonic, game nights, grinding out group projects last minute, volunteering at community events, almost dying on a Spring Break trip with the guys, public speaking with an intense fear of public speaking, and much more. I became more involved in extracurriculars, joining the cross country and powerlifting teams, a few UIL teams, and being elected President of National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta and the Student Council Treasurer positions for the upcoming year. I even applied to an MIT-hosted STEM program with the help of my teachers and counselors, and I was incredibly fortunate to be selected to participate. That year made it evident to me that my questions from before had no clear answer; the direction I was headed and the goal I pursued would constantly change; it could be to perform well in school at the moment, but in the future, it would be something like being accepted into a good college. Then it would be securing a well-paying job even further along the line. I wasn’t supposed to cower from the lack of a concrete answer but rather recognize and embrace the freedom it allowed to make sure that, whichever path I took, I would continue to march forward.

The senior year seemed to rush in like all others, bringing much-dreaded college applications in its wake. While writing my essays, I constantly had to reflect on what I had experienced thus far. I thought of my coaches who had instilled discipline and a thirst for growth, my teachers and counselors who headed our clubs and helped me when applying for anything, my friends who had relentlessly supported me, and my parents who worked tirelessly to grant me an opportunity even to encounter these experiences in the first place. I thought back on the memories I had made and realized I wanted to continue living in a way I could remember fondly. While balancing my responsibilities in and out of school, I continued my habit of pushing outside my comfort zone. I took my shot in the dark and applied to big-name colleges; I participated in spirit days and went to football games with friends, went to my first and last Homecoming, briefly joined FFA, was flown out to tour the MIT campus, made a very last minute decision to attend prom, and more. I finished my senior year as Hooks High School’s Salutatorian and with many other honors, such as being Best All-Around Boy and being voted Prom King. More importantly, I can confidently say I truly enjoyed my time at HHS.
With graduation now behind me, my direction has changed once again; I am incredibly fortunate to say I am attending MIT this fall on a full ride, where I plan to major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Computer Science. Massachusetts is a long way from Texas, and I’m sure the winters will do a great job reminding me of that fact. However, the irreplaceable memories and friends I have made here remain just that: irreplaceable. Though this chapter in my story has ended and I must turn the page, what was written here won’t be erased – and it will most certainly NOT be forgotten.


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