Memories at JHS

Sydney Hembrough, Staff writer

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Ahhh, May 2018. The month I have been anxiously awaiting for the past four years. The year 2018 seemed like a distant dream when I was walking in the doors of Jacksonville High School for the first time. Now it is here, and so are the mixed emotions. Looking back, these past four years have been a journey. If you told me as a freshman who I would be when I was a senior, I would’ve chuckled and muttered a “yeah right.” But, here I am. Reflecting on my high school career, there have been many highlights that stuck out to me. Some involve academics while some deal solely with extracurriculars. All of them have one thing in common – they shaped who I am today and will forever be my memories of Jacksonville High School.

Freshman year was just a journey in itself. Because everything was new, it is hard to pick out a specific event that I liked the most. The most memorable part of freshman year, however, was having such great mentors and friends to look up to. I had grown up dancing with the class of 2015 but never got to connect with them outside of the studio. I always looked up to them as dancers, but going to school with them gave me a new perspective, to see a different side of them and to develop relationships with each one of them. Having them to guide us on J’ettes our first year was tremendous. They showed us what true leadership and hard work looked like. I also got to spend a lot of time with them outside of school. Seeing them treat me as if I was their own age but their little sister at the same time was amazing. I treasure all of the memories we made for rides home and trips to eat on off-campus lunch. Having these role models to guide me into high school truly made me who I am today. They taught me to be responsible, kind, and hard working, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Sophomore year was easily the toughest year of my life. I know people always say that, but MAN, it was hard. The workload was unlike anything I had ever experienced and the classes were extremely challenging. Before that year, I never really had to study, As bad as that sounds, school just came naturally for me. I absorbed enough in-class information to last me until the upcoming assessment, and that was enough for me. With honors chemistry, that all changed. I knew going into the class that it was going to be challenging for me, but I did not expect the level of attention it would demand. With that being said, the highlight of my sophomore year was tie-dye day in chemistry. It may seem like a silly thing to pick out from all of the fun things I did that year, but it had the biggest impact on me. You see, for the last hurrah of the year, the honors class got to bring in shirts to tie-dye. It was supposed to be integrated with a lesson about chemicals or something like that, but I prefer not to resort back to that stage of my life. The reason why this moment stood out so much to me is because if we wore the shirts the next week, we got extra credit. Before the tie-dye day, my grade was sitting at a comfortable B+ (my first B in a class, I might add). I had calculated that it would be nearly impossible for me to get an A in the class after the final, so I accepted that fact and took a breath of relief for the time I wouldn’t have to spend studying for days on end. However, the extra credit I received from wearing the t-shirt pushed my grade up to the lowest A- possible: 89.5%. Now that it was possible for me to end with an A, I was determined. I studied for hours everyday leading up to the exam and can proudly say that my silly tie-dye t-shirt was the only reason I finished with an A in honors chemistry. To this day, that moment still inspires me to go after what I want and to persevere. It still gives me confidence and determination.

Junior year didn’t have any huge, distinct moments. It was sort of a transition year for me. I didn’t have a ton of difficult classes, but I was starting to think about decisions I would have to make after high school. One thing that really stood out to me was the Yudabands project I did with Interact Club! The year before, I attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy where I met leaders of other Interact and Rotary Clubs from surrounding areas and around the world. While I was there, I noted several service projects that interested me that other clubs had done. Because I had heard my aunt and uncle’s stories of their missions in Guatemala, my heart was drawn towards the Yudabands project that allowed us to sell handmade bracelets to raise money for a Guatemalan child’s education. We were assigned a student whom we were fundraising for and received 300 bracelets, a picture, and a bio about her. At first, we were hesitant to order so many bracelets, but we wanted to make a difference. We ended up selling all 300 in two days for $7 each. Having a personal connection with a student made it so special. Being able to see exactly to whom our money was going made it personal. The impact we made on her life will last a lifetime, and to me, that is so gratifying.

Because this past school year has been full of great memories, it would be hard to choose between Homecoming week and winning state for J’ettes. Homecoming week is always the best week of the year. All of the school spirit and the spirit days makes for a great week. I love participating in powder puff, marching in the parade, and getting ready for the dance. This year, the week was particularly special because I was chosen to be on Homecoming court. Being able to ride in the parade and take lots of cool pictures were my favorite parts. It was so cool to be a part of a group of high-spirited kids and to get to know my classmates a little better. Knowing that my classmates chose me to be on the court overwhelmed me with gratitude and happiness. Another huge highlight of senior year was seeing all of our hard work at J’ettes pay off at state. Making it to IHSA finals and having our school behind us was great, but winning five state titles at IDTA was the cherry on top. This was something we had worked for since our freshmen year, and to see our determination finally recognized was tremendous. It was a fantastic way to retire as a J’ette and to go into my final semester as a Crimson.

High school has been full of ups and downs, but they have all made me who I am today. I am extremely grateful for all of the memories and lessons Jacksonville High School has given me. The people I have been surrounded by within the past four years have made a huge impact on me. The opportunities both in and outside of the classroom have all contributed to this journey that I am so glad I got to be a part of. Once a Crimson, always Crimson.

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