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Senior year is filled with ‘firsts and lasts’

by Melina Tisopulos

As I begin my senior year of high school, I experience a series of “lasts”: my last first day, last homecoming dance, and eventually my last week.

On Monday I attended my final class registration. While I don’t particularly enjoy waiting two hours in the 90-degree weather to see my schedule, knowing I’ll never do it again makes the mundanity of it almost somber.

It’s hard to wrap my head around since it seems I was only just experiencing the opposite, my high school “firsts.” Time surely flies, but with the past year being my first full year of in-person high school, it has been even more unforgiving.

Many of the adults in my life ask if I am excited for my senior year. I say I am, which is the expected answer, and it’s somewhat true. I am excited to partake in all the senior exclusive activities and spend time with friends before we part ways, something I don’t take for granted after losing a year and a half to the pandemic.

However, most of the time I am incredibly overwhelmed, and that is unfortunately a more predominant feeling than excitement. With a year of advanced classes, standardized exams and busy extracurriculars ahead of me, I know that stress will often take precedence over fun. Not to mention the dreadful college application process, another topic adults love to inquire about.

There’s also so much unknown. A year from now, I will be somewhere completely different. I won’t know where for certain until May. This will be the first time in my entire life I will live outside of the small town bubble of Claremont. It’s bittersweet; I am eager for independence and new experiences but am bound to miss the comfort and familiarity of my home.

Being raised here has undoubtedly made me who I am today, and much of that derives from my education. I began at Condit Elementary, transitioned to El Roble, and now finish at CHS. With my family belonging to the district for 20 consecutive years, I have always been connected to the CUSD community. It is where I have met many of the most impactful people in my life, who have granted me unconditional support as I learn and mature. I am grateful for all the opportunities for growth my school years have provided.

I often joke that I can’t wait to get out of Claremont. Sure, I look forward to moving somewhere new, but I recognize how fortunate I am to have been raised here. This year’s Almanac asks, “What makes Claremont, Claremont?” So many answers rush to my mind. Most prominent are our traditions, and the fond memories they forge: weekend evenings in the Village, summer concerts in the park, the daylong Fourth of July festivities. These are all little pieces of what makes Claremont home for many.

Though I have lived here for 17 years, interning with the Claremont COURIER has made me realize there is still much about our city I don’t know. Especially all the good. Whether it’s an act of neighborly kindness or a nonprofit organization fighting for a better tomorrow, there are always new stories that attest to the compassion of our community. I never really grasped how special this is since it is all I have ever known. I will miss belonging to a community with so much care.

While I navigate through my last year in Claremont, I want to maintain a balanced mindset: ready to be welcomed into my future, wherever it leads me, but grateful for my past and the community that has guided me.

Melina Tisopulos is a rising senior at Claremont High School and is the COURIER’s summer intern.

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