Reflections from Central’s class of 2023

As the 2022-2023 school year comes to an end, Central High School will be losing seniors and gaining freshmen. The class of 2023 gives advice to rising freshmen to help ease the stress of transitioning from middle school to high school and sends a final farewell to Central as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.

After four years, the 2023 seniors reflect on their freshman selves and realize that high school was not what they expected. From their social lives to their academics, the soon-to-be graduates have learned many lessons about life.

The class of 2023 top 10% (Photo Credit: John Valentine)

For some students, taking a separate path from their friends helped them the best. Cheerleader and active member of Bobcat Company and musical theater Sarah Verneuil explains that she values friendship and believes it is important, but did what she wanted to do despite the fact that her friends were not following her down that path. While some of her closest friends tried out for the dance team, Verneuil branched out and went out for the cheer team. She says “[she] had to do that on [her] own” in order to do what was best for herself. Football player and track member Josh Purcell agrees when he said, “Don’t chase other people and their groups… just find yourself in your own little group.”

Seniors Kailee Bryant, Sarah Verneuil, Caroline Cooper, and Marley Newman (left to right) celebrate senior night at a home basketball game
Photo credit: John Valentine

Many students say that academics are crucial to success. ROTC member and soccer player Isaac Katz explains that “grades do matter [but] you should allow yourself to have fun.” Katz says that taking rigorous academic courses has helped prepare him for college and encourages students to put effort in their school work. Soccer player Lexi Fordham also encourages “taking different classes in different areas.” She believes that taking various types of classes has helped her figure out what she is interested in and what she would want to do in the future. 

The seniors have learned that not only are academics important, but so is participating in extracurricular activities and getting involved in the school. Several students say that attending football games is their favorite thing to do at Central. The student section dresses out in different themes to cheer on their Central Bobcats during football season. Katz explains that he wishes he had been more active in the student section earlier in high school. In Katz’s opinion, the student section has been a key part of his life, and he wishes he had joined it sooner.

When asked what they would do differently if they could do high school over again, many seniors said they wished they had been less harsh on themselves. Taking rigorous classes is difficult and takes determination and discipline to succeed, but students need to have time to relax. With many students being a part of school functions outside of school hours and trying to balance schoolwork, making time to have fun becomes an after-thought. Dancer and member of Bobcat Company and musical theater Marley Newman said, “school is difficult and things are going to be hard,” but she believes that taking time for herself was crucial to maintaining a healthy balance between school and her social life.

Justus Hayes poses with senior friends at Central’s 2023 Prom

Reflections on their time at Central helped the seniors to realize what they could have done differently, but also helped them to be thankful for the things they did do. Many students say that they would have continued to be a part of school functions such as sports, clubs and other organizations. It helped many students find a community of like-minded people and made their time at Central more enjoyable.

The most common recommendation seniors have given is to get involved in school activities, clubs and sports. Student Government Association (SGA) president Justus Hayes encourages students to find something in school that they enjoy and to get involved with school functions. Fordham adds to that when she said, “take advantage of every opportunity you have.” Several students recommend getting involved in the arts– whether that is band, theater or art. Caroline Cooper, Ellanora Petersen, Newman, and Verneuil agree that taking musical theater and being a part of Bobcat Company was one of the best decisions they ever made. They each described that they have formed many connections through their interests in the arts.

Seniors Tre Lyons (left) and Josh Purcell (right) celebrate after the Halls v Central football game

For the last four years, the seniors have been preparing for their lives out of high school. Purcell explains that he was a transfer student and was “thrown into a group of people [he] didn’t know.” He learned how important it was to adjust to the type of people around him and to go out of his comfort zone to make connections with people. On the other hand, Kitty Reagan explains that dual enrollment classes were the best thing that prepared her for college. She says that dual enrollment classes “seem like a lot of work but the setting is very similar to what it will be like in college.” Newman agrees when she talks about her AP English courses. She believes that taking rigorous classes helped her to become a stronger writer and produce high-quality work. Additionally, Verneuil and Cooper found that there are small lessons that they had to learn on their own.

Students are told that the four years of high school fly by quickly and Central’s class of 2023 agrees. Though they say taking academics seriously is important, they recommend slowing down and enjoying yourself. Fordham says that she “[took] advantage of being [at Central] every day” and wishes she had taken every chance she could to have fun. As the seniors move on to start the rest of their lives, the most common advice they give to freshmen is not to rush through high school. It will be over before you know it.

The class of 2023 sign picture (Photo Credit: John Valentine)

Last advice from Central’s 2023 senior class:
Lexi Fordham – “Just have fun with it.”
Isaac Katz – “Try to figure out what you stand for and who you are.”
Marley Newman – “You are going to be perfectly fine. Just breathe and always use a planner.”
Caroline Cooper – “Get involved, and go out of your comfort zone to make new friends.”
Sarah Verneuil – “It’s really not that scary as everyone tells you…It’s a good time if you make it a good time. I feel like your attitude and mindset has a lot to do with it.”
Cole Ballenger – “Don’t skip class and pay attention to your teachers.”
Josh Purcell – “Take the class serious but make sure to have fun at the same time.”
Kitty Reagan – “Don’t psych yourself out over [high school] because it’s not as bad as it seems.”
Ellanora Petersen – “High school can sometimes be messy, but in the end you will come out as a different person than when you came in.”

Read more from The Bobcat Times:

Fresh Advice: What to expect Freshman year

Reflections and Advice from the class of ’22

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