Isabelle Fortaleza-Tan, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief
High school: for four years, it’s the place where friendships are made, strengthened, and tested; where passions are developed and explored. Many join clubs. Some join sports. Freshman year is your blank slate. Whether you become the acclaimed thespian, the heroic varsity sports star, or the brilliant science wiz— the story is yours to write. 180 days a year, rain or shine, excited or exhausted, students make their way up the hill of GSIS’ entrance to start a brand new day. At the start of high school, the thought of walking through GSIS corridors for the final time seems distant and obscure— for our seniors, this is the reality they have to face.
For seniors like Joseph Park and Matthew Lee, this year marks their 10th year at GSIS. Over the course of their time here, they got to watch different batches of teachers and students wade in and out of the school and witness GSIS evolve into the place it is today.
Joseph says, “Now that I think about how the school was when I was little, I can definitely remember it being a much newer school. By that, I mean that GSIS was founded not too long before my first year here. Because of this, I would say GSIS had less variety back then. For example, I remember, as an elementary student, being very distant from the students and teachers that were just a grade or two above me. By the time I entered middle school, I really only knew one upperclassman who was about 3 to 4 years older than me. Even in 9th grade, sports and clubs were mostly run by the seniors or juniors. As a freshman, I couldn’t even imagine trying to get close with them.”
He continues, “However, I think GSIS developed with me. I found that, as the years progressed, there were more opportunities to remove the gap between grade levels. As a senior now, I’m glad I know many juniors, sophomores, freshmen, and even 8th graders. I also know that some other people in our grade are close to Ms. Yoder thanks to Volleyball. The concept of being close with an elementary teacher is something I wouldn’t have imagined happening ever.”
Once the seniors have moved on and found their new places in the world, they’ll find themselves reminiscing about different parts of the GSIS community. As the theater department’s stage manager, Matthew Lee dedicated most of his time working on the school’s theater productions. Matthew says, “I have been involved in the school’s plays for all of my high school years. Working as a part of the production crew has helped me gain leadership skills and a sense of accomplishment. I was also able to gain so many new friendships in the theater community. Since drama was a big part of my high school career I will miss it so much. It’s what I will miss most about GSIS.”
Daniel Jeon says, “I’ll definitely miss GSIS’ tight-knit community. Everyone is accepted and it molds to fit everyone. I’ll also miss the relationships students and teachers get to build here. Class times are still class times, there’s still that teacher-student dynamic. However, outside of class times, it becomes more of a mentor-mentee relationship— teachers are actually our friends. Vulnerability is promoted. They’re willing to listen to our problems and give us advice because they actually care about all of the kids. That’s pretty special.”
The end of high school signifies the start of adulthood— which can both be scary and exciting. Sarah Kim says, “I have mixed feelings about graduating and I’m sure a lot of my classmates will feel the same way- sad to leave but excited for the next chapter. First of all, I can’t believe my 4 years at GSIS have gone by so fast. As college is where I will be able to pursue my passions, I’m excited to move on to my next chapter,” she continues, “However, I’ll miss my GSIS community. I already miss being a high school student… I feel really sad about leaving. I’ll cherish the small talks I had with teachers, the hugs and warm greetings from underclassmen, watching my peers goofing around in the halls and classrooms, playing sports as a team, and having deep talks with upper and underclassmen.”
After four years of high school, the seniors got to learn a lot about themselves, their passions, and life in general. Some have sage advice to impart to underclassmen and the rest of the GSIS community.
Evelyn Kim says, “My best advice is to live with ‘no regrets’. I definitely regret not putting that as my senior quote— but that’s beside the point. Mistakes and hardships are a part of life. By “regretting” the choices that you make, you end up tunnel-visioning on things that you can’t change. Learn and move on. At the end of the day, your attitude is the only thing within your control.”
As the seniors graduate today, their absence for the following final weeks of school will be felt in the GSIS community. Many sports teams lose their captains. Clubs have lost their leaders. Underclassmen lose their older senior buddies. Teachers’ classrooms and hallways suddenly feel a tiny bit lonelier— definitely a lot quieter.
Teachers who have taught the seniors for multiple years got to witness the students blossom and mature as learners and as adolescents. Ms. Porter, the seniors’ biology teacher, has a lot to say about the graduating class, “I am so happy to have come to GSIS in time to teach the class of 2022. Even though I’ve only been here two years, they have made such a significant impact on me as a person and as a teacher. They are such a passionate, athletic, creative, and unique group of students and I’m lucky to have been their teacher. To my seniors: the school will feel emptier without you here, but the world will be fuller with you in it, thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for the school.”