Miriam Spak (Freshman)
In a mere week, once final exams are over, the Obama Class of 2022 will no longer be high school seniors. After they receive their diplomas, they will have graduated and be off to wherever life takes them. This momentous occasion is years in the making and one that they have spent all of high school preparing for. But for a short while longer, they are still Obama students. Here are some glimpses into a few seniors’ minds as graduation looms.
The four years of high school are no small feat, but especially not for the Class of 2022, who were only sophomores when the pandemic began. Despite that, they have worked obstinately and have much to be proud of. “I’m most proud of my tenacity and how I continued to bounce back,” La’Nell Brooks said. Every high schooler knows how intense testing can get, but this is especially true for seniors. Elise Silvestri is most proud of “getting through IB and AP exams!” Anna Spak is also proud of her “academics, especially being a National Merit Scholar.” Conversely, Aastha Singh and Anna Spak were also proud of their social achievements. Aastha mentioned, “It’s connections I have made and friendships I have forged… My network of mentors, teachers, and friends has played a major part in my success and happiness… They’re all just so cool and fun to be around. It’s awesome.” Anna is proud and happy about “stepping out of [her] comfort zone…and learning how to make friends.”
After graduating, a world of opportunities opens up, one that the seniors are very excited about. Aastha is excited to attend the Conference on National Affairs, which is a selective political summer camp in North Carolina. “I can’t wait to watch the sunrise over the mountains and meet old friends and avoid the eggs during breakfast,” she told me. La’Nell, Anna, and Elise are all very excited for college. Elise, who will be attending NYU, cannot wait to take interesting classes. La’Nell, who will be attending Purdue University as a part of Highmark’s Straight to Business Program, is “excited for the next four years with Highmark.” Anna, who will be attending the University of Rochester, is excited to “meet new people and learn new things.”
It can be hard to pick a favorite time from high school, but all of the seniors chose unique moments that reflect the different facets of high school life when prompted. For La’Nell, it was being chosen as a Pittsburgh Promise Ambassador. “I loved my time with them and they opened up so many opportunities,” she told me. Elise enjoyed chatting with teachers–namely Mr. Naveh and Mr. Collinger. Aastha’s was the recent senior trip to Kennywood, “overpriced fries and all.” Anna’s was an afternoon spent with friends after school ended early due to a blackout. “My friends and I went to get bubble tea and play on a playground… It was really fun,” she described. Both the social and academic sides of high school meant a lot to all four of the interviewed seniors.
With the knowledge and experience imparted to them by their time at Obama, the seniors have advice to give younger students. Anna’s advice is simple but powerful: be prepared to vastly regret freshman year. La’Nell’s is the importance of self care. “Take a break and always plan out your day, even if it’s only five minutes in the morning. I promise it’ll change the trajectory of your day.” Elise wants students to remember to seek joy and practice self-care. “…enjoy being called a high school student while [you] still can.” Aastha’s is to “take advantage of the freedom you have… With permission and purpose, you can do almost anything you want to… Obama is your oyster.”