May 27, 2014

Student commentary: The memories of high school years at East St. Louis Senior High

Seniors at East St. Louis Senior High School are nearing the end of their high school career.

During this time, all the memories come rushing back and students reminisce to see how far they've come.

As a senior myself, I couldn't help but to look back on my four years and ask myself, "What made my high school memories worth remembering?" My answer was the school's Marching Flyer Band. It was the music program that made my high school experience unforgettable.

So, I decided to ask other seniors how they felt about the programs they were in and how it affected them throughout high school. All are members of the school's Honors and AP program in addition to serving as members of an extra-curricular activity.

"It was an enjoyable experience. I liked working with my peers for a common goal," said Jaiara Johnson, who is also a member of the school's marching band.

When asked what she will take from this experience, "I am going to pursue music in college and possibly be a music teacher."

Johnson is a saxophone section leader in the marching band. She plans to attend Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

Track team captain DeMarco Jackson plans to major in business administration and continue his track career at McKendree University in Lebanon.

When asked to reflect on his high school experiences, he said, "It was great. I got better each year. The coaches are like family. They help me on and off the track.

"My hard work, over the course of four years, lead me to the position of a captain," he continued.

"I learned to be a student first and an athlete second and to be squared away in class first before I step foot on the track. I feel like I became a part of a brotherhood and I've met coaches who are like family to me."

Marching band drum captain DaNesha Telfair agreed with fellow band members that the experience was fun.

"It was interesting and I caught on quick," Telfair said. "I enjoyed it and I will miss it when I leave. I will take my music reading skills and leadership skills as inspiration to do what I plan to do in life."

Telfair plans to major in graphic design at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Former Scholar Bowl member Aza Walker shared his experience in that program.

"It was fun, because it was a real test of my intelligence," Walker said. "Every time I got a question right, it made me feel accomplished. Even as a freshman, I was able to hang in there with the seniors. And I think hanging with the seniors made me more of a humble person, because even though I was younger, I was treated like I was on their level."

Walker plans to major in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Prior to going to college, he will serve as an intern at the American Bottoms Water Company.

Being in a school program, in my opinion, really gives you the full effect of being in high school. There is so much more to it than grades and school work, although that is the ultimate focus.

Staying after school for something you love to do gives you a sense of pride and dedication to your program and your school. And while you're there, the memories you make and the people you meet are moments that you'll never forget.

These moments turn into stories that you'll tell your children. These moments make you who you are. They are how you got to this point in your life. It's the memories that make all the stress, tension, pain, heartache and anxiety worthwhile. High school is an emotional roller coaster for teens all across the globe. And here we are. We've gotten through it.

So, congratulations Class of 2014. We made it.

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