For Community High School (CHS) seniors, reflecting on their high school essays has helped them reminisce on what their school years have taught them. Whether it be because of a teacher who helped guide them through the piece or the actual written words — these essays have meant something to each of them.
Elijah Klein, a senior, remembers the powerful review he wrote about a song during his freshman year for an English class. He spent more time on the piece than Robert, his former teacher, was most likely expecting. This piece helped Klein discover his passion for writing about things that he cares about.
“I've learned that once [I am writing about something] that I enjoy, and I'm passionate about, then it doesn't feel like a burden at all,” Klein said. “Writing an essay about something that I enjoy helps me express myself. It helps me open up on a piece of paper.”
He is thankful for the time that he spent working on this piece because it has set him up for a successful writing career while in high school thus far.
Pushing the boundaries and stepping out of their comfort zone, is something that Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal, CHS senior, discovered would take their writing to a higher level. Being that they mostly stuck to writing poetry in years leading up to high school as well as their freshman year, Kincaid-Beal was nervous to take on one of Tracy Anderson’s, English teacher, first personal narrative assignments.
“I learned that I could write a pretty good personal narrative essay,” Kincaid-Beal said.“I hadn't really [written a personal narrative] before. I was mostly just writing poetry. I was feeling pretty good about myself as a poet, but not a writer of other stuff. But then I started using tools that I use when I write poems to write my essay. I realized that I can write an essay that's not boring. I also learned that I actually enjoy writing.”
Along with building their personal narrative skills, Kincaid-Beal found that essay writing can be another form of communication.
“My essay was about my uncle and my perspective on our relationship from when I was a kid into my teenage years,” Kincaid-Beal said. “It was something I hadn't really talked about. [My uncle] is an alcoholic, and also a republican. I really had never thought about it a lot. It was a lot to just get it all down on paper and reflect upon everything. A year later, I shared the essay with my dad, who is my uncle’s brother. It was pretty cool that we could talk about it. The conversation was really good.”
Mia Wood, another senior, found her voice in writing her Common Application for college applications. She found something as simple as the Cicada population coming out of the ground for the first time in 17 years, making it the first time since Wood was born. Their life span and characteristics sparked a connection that she wrote about.
“While I was writing [the essay] I learned a lot about myself and how I understand things as I was trying to figure out how to relate the cicadas to my life,” Wood said. “I really had to dig deep into the moment [I wrote about] and think about what I was thinking, doing, seeing, etc.”
While writing, Wood thought about how the Cicadas related to her life. At first, the inquiry was unanswered because she was not sure how the pod of Cicadas she lived on could relate to her life in any way.
“When thinking about how to tie the Cicadas to my life, I thought about how they relate to the career that I want to go into in the future,” Wood said. “I want to major in Environmental Science and the Cicadas were affected by a cold front that happened and most of them died which ties back to the environment. A lot of people are affected by climate change, global warming and natural disasters. I then looked at the bugs in my backyard and realized I couldn’t do anything. In the future, I want to be able to help people who are affected by natural disasters.”
As seniors begin to think about launching into the next leg of their journey, whether that be college, straight into the workforce or something completely different, their personal essays have helped them reflect upon a meaningful or impactful moment in their lives. For Madison Bell, her essay did exactly that.
“I wrote [my Common App] about how I learned how to drive a manual [transmission],” Bell said. “It’s unique for a 17-year-old girl to know how to drive a stick shift. I went through eight different teachers throughout learning, and so I wrote about how each person that tried to teach me gave me something new.”
Bell found each instructor gave her a different perspective and the experience forced her to learn through cohesion; she discovered that these eight teachers were a catalyst for success.
“I learned what teaching styles were beneficial to me,” Bell said. “It helped me understand how I learn best. This process of learning how to drive a stick shift took me about a year. I think through the different teaching styles and the long hours of practice, it helped me discover that the power of just doing something will trump everything else.”
As these seniors reflect back on essays that have shaped them and made them into who they are today, they are grateful for the power of mentors, teachers and parents who have helped them get this far.