What does it really mean to be a second-semester senior?


Elke Teichmann

The Class of 2021 partakes in their movie night social at the beginning of second semester senior year.

The second I hit the “submit” button for my last college application, I sunk into my chair and prepared myself for a semester of relaxation. For some reason, I, like many other seniors, was under the impression that this semester was going to be a joke. In fall, every assignment I completed was just a step closer to the paradise that is second-semester senior year. My parents would come into my room with plates of chopped-up fruit to find me buried under my textbooks. With a look of pity and concern on their faces, they’d pat me on the back and remind me of how close I was to the second semester.

Now that I’m finally here, I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little bit underwhelmed. Apparently, we still have assignments this semester? Tests still exist in paradise, too. Oh yeah, and grades—they never went away either. I was expecting that in all my classes, participation was now going to be worth like 99% of the grade. But no, we still have to fight for our lives to get A’s.

After some mindful reflection, I’ve come to a new conclusion. I think the second semester is actually challenging for Castilleja seniors for a few reasons.

Number 1: We always expect to get A’s. Most second semester seniors have simply given up all hope when it comes to grades. It doesn’t matter anymore! That doesn’t mean they have less work; they just choose not to do it. But to many of us, it still matters—a lot. The thought of leaving assignments incomplete quite literally makes us nauseous.

Number 2: We are in a major motivation deficit. When I sit down at my desk to start my homework, I literally have to summon strength from the gods to pick up a pencil. Every time I finish a homework problem, I have to reward myself with food.

Number 3: We are still taking some of the hardest classes that the school has to offer. I guess we are partly to blame for that.

I think that the biggest reality check that I’ve encountered has been the changes made as a result of the coronavirus. Many traditions and characteristics of senior year just won’t be the same as in the past. Part of being a senior is walking around campus like a BOSS. Unfortunately, I do not look like a boss over Zoom (or even on campus to be honest)—I look like a total bum.

However, not all hope is lost. We have still managed to make some senior memories. On our first day back on campus, we demonstrated unity by all dressing up as bald people for Halloween. We’ve claimed our rightful place on campus—the “STent” (senior tent) under which many of us freeze together and question why we applied to schools outside of California. We had our first senior movie night on the circle. We had distanced ringing. And now, we look forward to rivalry, Fa-Di-Da, a modified version of revelry, and commencement.

In an attempt to see the good in a very terrible situation, I hypothesized that maybe the coronavirus happened because the world just wants us to stop growing up so fast. It’s hard for me to believe that I’m three months into my last semester at Castilleja.

As I watch the sixth graders scurry around campus babbling about how they “totally failed” their test on the alphabet or something, I can’t help but think about how not long ago we were in their shoes. I was one of those wide-eyed, bushy-tailed little girls lacking enough of a sense of time to understand that I would practically grow up on this campus. Despite being completely blindsided by the workload this semester, I have to say, I’m going to miss this place.