[EDITORIAL] Seniors needed to enjoy their youth and have more special opportunities


Thousands of papers fly over the railing near Entrance B, cascading on the floor, a mismatch of math tests, English essays and science lab reports. Three Chromebooks lie in pieces, shattered on the tile floor. On the balcony, the class of 2022 cheers at the bittersweet conclusion of their final year of high school.

Students at West Chicago Community High School grow up too quickly, and before they know it, they are headed to the commencement ceremony at Northern Illinois University, not quite sure what happened to their childhood, nor what happens next.

As high school students, our younger versions imagine that growing up/becoming an adult will be a pleasant coming-of-age leading, and so we want to grow up quickly. But, once we reach a certain age, we start regretting time spent on social media, as well as those activities and experiences we did not go through, and wish we could go back to our childhood.

The heavy influence of social media today pushes the need to meet societal expectations. Social media fills the head with ideas of what high school students ‘need’ to be, and when students feel all eyes on them, they internalize and incentivize the need to grow up rapidly. Heavy engagement with social media not only influences high school students’ mentality, but also produces gullibility, as it creates a wrongful image that is often indistinguishable from the right.

As the Child Mind Institute, a charitable organization that aims to provide resources to children and parents, explains, “Some experts worry that teens are more anxious and have lower self-esteem because of social media and texting.

Social media presents unrealistic beauty standards for both men and women, which leaves the teenagers feeling as if they have to meet those standards. Teenagers today are never truly satisfied, and as such, are left them self-esteem issues. The anxious sensation, again, comes with the feeling of having all eyes on you, along with the constant questioning whether or not you meet the expectations of the person to your right, or the person to your left.

And so, the senior class, raised in the digital age, was forced to grow up too quickly. Social media, along with a stunted high school experience thanks to the pandemic, impacted the class of 2022 in more ways than one. They were forced to grow up quickly, and while many hoped for a chance to experience the traditions and “typical high school experience” upon returning to WEGO, they felt pressure to act maturely.

Senior Powder Puff girls run a play on Homecoming in October 2021. (Photo by Yearbook Staff)

However, on the other side of the spectrum, there are a handful of underclassmen who are not growing up fast enough. A fourteen/fifteen-year-old who is coming-of-age should know basic rights and wrongs. A wrong, for example, is a physical fight, and yet underclassmen have displayed disruptive behavior multiple times within this year alone. Freshmen and sophomores have been observed carrying out fights in the cafeteria and hallways, and, in our opinion, are responsible for getting the Homecoming dance shut down earlier than expected due to excessive water throwing and destruction of school property (although we do acknowledge a small handful of upperclassmen were also involved in such disruptive behavior).

Senior Evelyn Bucio said of the underclassmen, “All they think about [are] not school-wise things. They act so ugly. They act like my little five-year-old nephew. They need to mature.” 

Of course, the destruction of school property did not end on the night of Homecoming: no, it has been continuously displayed throughout the school year, specifically in the bathrooms – and it must be said that vandalism, on a large scale as can be seen now, did not occur with the previous graduating classes, and has only begun post-pandemic with a new set of students. 

However, senior Eden Santana said, “Based on the bathrooms, it says a lot. But I think as a school, we can mature and work on being better people day by day.”

The administration, who promised to hold talks with the freshmen and sophomores following Homecoming but did not, would say the underclassmen are just being kids. We can hear them now, explaining that we were young once too. But, it must be said that, as a whole, the class of 2022 did not act like the current underclassmen do.

While it is true the freshmen and sophomores did not have a chance to experience a typical transition at West Chicago Community High School, the administration claims it is up to the juniors and seniors to set an example on how to behave. In other words, the juniors and seniors were punished for behavior they did not participate in.

Seniors James Kostomiris, Maya Gomez, Mariana Alfaro, Ashley Malay and Anthony Sanchez let loose on the last days of the school year. (Photo by Leslie Fireman)

Many of the students we surveyed agreed that they did not come to school to be parents. It is the responsibility of the administration, teachers, and/or parents to teach the underclassmen, not ours. 

We all learn from one another, but I don’t think it’s fully the students’ responsibility to shape younger classmen.  They’re their own people. They have to learn how to become their own person themselves,” said senior Olivia Muci.

Junior Effie Giannoudakos said, “It’s the teachers and principal’s responsibility to be actually enforcing rules, because all kids come to school. The upperclassmen know how to behave. We learned without the help of other upperclassmen.”

We recommend that underclassmen take time to reflect on their actions, and better themselves by focusing on academics and getting involved in high school activities. They still have time to enjoy their youth, but must change their actions: freshmen and sophomores, do something productive or useful with your time. Learn to treat yourself, your teachers, and your school right, to ease the treatment of not only other people, but physical properties as well. Value the time and lessons that your friends, family, peers, and high school administration have to teach you; spend time with them, or even alone.

We encourage the administration to help these young students with encouragement of more after-school social/emotional programs. Truthfully, the school needs to find methods and approaches that focus on firmly teaching the students to mature. Instead of an easy and welcoming “Wildcat in Pride” orientation, the administrators need to take a firmer approach: essentially, a boot camp in which they set limits on the incoming students and clearly explain rules and explanations.

It is a shame that, because of the immaturity of the younger students and the ongoing pandemic, the seniors did not get to fully experience the fun of being an upperclassman. 

WEGO upperclassmen enjoy making paper brain hats in science class. (Photo by Yearbook Staff)

“Late in life, you seem to forget all the good stuff and life brings so much challenge and forget how to live trying to live with the challenges,” said senior LaToya Wright. 

And so, back to the subject of seniors growing up too quickly. It was noted by Chronicle staffers that the seniors did not receive a multitude of special end-of-the-year celebrations.

More needs to be done to celebrate the seniors in the future, and allow them one last series of childhood events.

Senior Andy Carlos said, “I think it’s important to enjoy your childhood because when you grow up, you don’t have the time to do the things you wish you would’ve done when you were young.”

(Juniors have a lot on their plate already, and the third year of high school is often the hardest, so these traditions and ideas will focus just on the seniors. The Wildcat Chronicle staff loves the juniors though, and hopes the class of 2023 is able to benefit from this editorial in some way, shape or form.) 

A “last first day of school” picture would be a fun way to welcome seniors into the new academic year. (Photo by Awesome Inventions)

At the beginning of senior year, in fact, on the first day of the first semester, seniors’ English teachers should take a “last first day of school” picture of the seniors, such as the one at right.

It is important, too, that the school take a full class photo of the seniors on the last day of school. The photo can be taken at the stadium to accommodate everyone. This class photo should be provided digitally to all seniors, along with their last day photo, for free when they graduate.

Seniors should have at least one early release per month for R&R (rest and relaxation), as they have earned it.

Additionally, there should be a senior breakfast at which the seniors have multiple choices for their meal, including a variety of yogurts, waffles or pancakes, sausages, and bacon. Our reporters are particularly crazy about bacon. This senior breakfast should be a gift to the graduating class, not something for which they have to pay.

It is also important that seniors should get the opportunity to design their own class shirt. This year’s shirt is so ugly. Honestly, we at the Wildcat Chronicle tried to find something nice to say about the shirt, but we just cannot. It is too basic and looks just like the other t-shirts students have been given over the years. The class of 2023 shirts should be something that screams “seniors,” and the graduating class should absolutely be able to choose the color.

While the administration may or may not have had the money to pay for a trip to Six Flags Great America, let us be clear: the seniors would be willing to pay for such an excursion. That being said, the seniors deserve a Six Flags trip because junior year, which they have just emerged from, is a hard one, and it is important to recognize the seniors achievements, and celebrate their graduation with a fun experience that both rewards them and allows them to be a kid for one last time (plus, other classes had the opportunity to go).

To be honest, there are few events that upperclassmen look forward to, and the ones we do have, such as Prom and Latin Fever, are not enough. The seniors are about to become adults, and at that point in life, there is not much fun, sadly. Seniors should have their own celebrations, ones they do not share with other students (i.e. Homecoming or even Prom). There should be days/events that only the seniors are allowed to experience without having to worry that such activities are going to be shut down due to the immaturity of others.