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‘21 and Done: East Side Seniors’ Advice and Final Goodbyes

by Tigerlily Theo Hopson

On the morning of June 16th, East Side Community High School’s class of 2021 walked across a jet black stage, a breeze tussling their caps and gowns as one by one they reached out and received their diplomas. Principal Mark Federman shook each graduating senior’s hand (sanitizing between each one), and blue, orange, and white balloons rustled in the background. For this group of students, who have weathered the college application process and the entirety of their senior year online, the occasion was momentous, as well as in masks and socially distanced, unordinary. As confetti popped and tassels were moved from right to left, grins and tears raced across the crowd.

As East Side’s seniors walk through the gates one last time, and into their futures, a new generation of East Siders are left behind to carry their legacy. From leading the chess club to starting the school newspaper to managing the basketball team, East Side’s class of 2021 have left their mark. Now, it is the responsibility of the classes that follow to continue to use their voices, carry their stories, and follow in the East Side tradition of greatness.

To pass on a bit of their own wisdom, six seniors gave advice and answered a few select questions below. Their responses hopefully can assist East Siders on their journey to one day joining the class of 2021 in walking across the stage and out the front gates and into the sunshine.

Question: What is the number one piece of advice you want to give to the classes below you?

Step outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself. It seems scary to become academically or extracurricularly uncomfortable, especially as an East Sider. However, it'll prepare you for your post-high school life. The world beyond East Side is vast and rigorous, so don't wait too long before you begin preparing for it. - Lavon Sykes

Don’t be so hard on yourself - Lyniyah Brown

Try anything you might be interested in, you never know what you’ll fall in love with - Charli Rodriguez

Question: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

If I were to go back in time and tell my younger self something, I would tell him that "you have done the best you can. There are so many things that you could have done and may regret later on but it is something you should not let get to you. You did great." - Andy Xie

Work smarter, not harder - Anonymous

Stop being so self conscious and just have fun - Lyniyah Brown

Question: What would you tell East Side middle schoolers transitioning to high school? Do you have any wisdom on easing that transition? What are some things they should keep in mind throughout high school?

I came when I was in 9th grade, so it was hard to make friends because lots of people already knew each other. Honestly, just be your authentic self and don’t be shy to share your opinions in class. - Charli Rodriguez

Start the college progress early - Gabriel Loor

For middle schoolers who are transitioning to high school, it is going to be a totally different world. Middle school was a space for you to properly grow and get out from being a child to a teenager. High school is where it tests you to become a mature adult. And you know what, you probably still are acting a bit crazy and energetic when transitioning to 9th grade, but that is a good thing. Soon, that energy is going to be needed with the amount of workload that is to come when it comes to exhibitions, PBATs, and college work... However, do not stress yourself out too early… 9th grade should be a transitioning year to figure out what you want to do. - Andy Xie

Question: For the eleventh graders about to embark on the college process, what tips would you give them?

Always talk to Jerome. It was a virtual world and I STILL emailed Jerome regularly and made use of his Zoom times. He will be pivotal in your college process, because he puts in just as much energy and effort as you do. All you have to do is ask and put your own effort in. - Lavon Sykes

Place your trust on yourself. The college process is mostly independent… - Anonymous

Make good relationships with your teachers and apply to college early! - Charli Rodriguez

Question: Are there any final words you would like to share with the East Side community before you graduate?

It's been an extremely fun 7 years here, through middle and high school. I'll always remember the good folks here, and I hope I'm able to regularly visit and see how the community changes in the future! Thank you, East Side. - Lavon Sykes

Overall, good luck, have fun, PBATs are hell. ;) - Anonymous

Finally, it’s over, Roberto you’re the goat. Miyo, you helped me a lot. Joanna, one of the best school mothers. Soni, even though you were hard on me, I could always depend on you. - Gabriel Loor

Thank you for basically raising me :) - Lyniyah Brown

I'm happy I got to be a positive influence at East Side. I had a great time - Charli Rodriguez

I would not have gotten to this place without the help of the East Side community. I did not know where to go or where to belong after middle school. That changed when I met amazing people, students, teachers, etc. I am glad to have been a part of this community. It was a fun ride, even if it started out bumpy. - Andy Xie

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