Long Story Short, I Survived


Tristan Rice, Staff Writer

After four long years, my time at Lenoir City School will come to an end in just a mere fifteen days. I remember entering my new high school journey in 2019 with many questions. Freshman year was all about finding new experiences and making new friends. One key part of integrating into the high school was mixing in the two main middle schools in the area. While we went through middle school with the same friends that we had since we were in kindergarten, we entered a new environment with complete strangers. 

As we traveled through high school, we found new friends and teachers to spend our time with inside and outside of school. We faced new challenges within our classes as they prepared us for our future college endeavors. After a tiring morning, we gathered at our everyday lunch table as we observed the new groups forming at each of the tables in the cafeteria. Every lunch period we wouldn’t know if we would encounter a questionable lunch meal, a fight happening on the tables, or even food being thrown across the lunch room.

Going through freshman year was like any other normal year, up until spring break. As we entered our spring break, some type of virus began spreading around other countries. This virus would soon be named COVID-19, similarly known as coronavirus. As we got through the break, the virus invaded into the United States traveling quickly around the nation. Our break soon reached its end when the school gave us an extra week off for the virus to die down. Everyone was ecstatic about this extra time off, but little did we know, we would not return until the next year. 

Our summer would become a long drawn-out isolation period from others that lasted for what seemed like forever. I spent my summer rarely adventuring out with my mask with my mom as if we were in hibernation. Due to this sickness, people would run to the store to buy all of the milk, bread, and toilet paper as if we were about to have our occasional snowstorm. This summer would result in one of the most boring breaks I’ve ever had as I never even got to see my friends that often.

Sophomore year would soon become one of the most challenging years of my high school career. The pandemic was still underway as the new year rolled around, resulting in one of the most chaotic ways of teaching. Our new year would bring hybrid scheduling, which would be half online, and half in-person. Every other morning, half of us would roll out of bed for our early morning zooms as we all struggled to stay awake. Having the school split in half resulted in us never being able to see the other half of our friends during school. This new way of teaching would soon backfire as many of us were confused and unable to learn through Google Meets. Prior to knowing what the pandemic would bring, I had made my sophomore year the most stacked classes as I doubled up in different places. I took three different health science courses, along with having honors chemistry and honors biology in the same semester. Although there were many obstacles, I still managed to make it through with decent grades.

My junior year would be a year of new adventures and challenges. During school, I would take my first dual enrollment class in Composition l. It seemed to be a hard class in the beginning, but as I got to understand my teacher’s expectations, I got to express more bold papers which she enjoyed reading. While in class, I got to meet new friends that I would soon spend most of after school time with. Friday nights would consist of attending football and basketball games with the student section while cheering on our team. After the game, the student section would flood into the Sonic parking spots as it was the Friday hangout spot. We would all socialize as we got to sit back and enjoy our slushies after a long week of class. 

During my Spring semester of junior year, I found my passion for concerts and festivals. My first concert was Kacey Musgraves and it was a fun, mellow show. The concert that sparked my passion was seeing Dua Lipa in Nashville on Valentine’s Day. I skipped school to go camp outside the arena at 7 am in the freezing cold for the best spot. We camped outside shivering for 12 hours building up the anticipation of the show. When the doors opened, we sprinted as fast as we could to the floor and we succeeded at getting front and center of the stage. It ended up being one of the best shows ever as we were singing and dancing the whole night. Just to top it off, she kept pointing and smiling at us during the show. This would spark my drive to go to as many concerts as I could and see some of my favorite artists. This also grew my interest in travel which would result in traveling all across the states to attend concerts and festivals. From the beginning of last year to now, I was able to attend 40 concerts, four festivals, and see over 100 artists. During this time, I was able to see some of my favorite artists including Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billie Eilish, and The Weeknd. As I built up all these miles, I was able to travel to places like New York City, Austin, Tulsa, Nashville, Atlanta, and Chicago. While attending festivals I had to share a space with thousands of people. Whether it was in the bustling city of Chicago, or the hot beaches of Gulf Shores, the live music atmosphere is a diverse place to enjoy music, meet new people, and create new experiences.

As I am exiting my senior year, my time left is quickly running out to make the most of high school. Senioritis started to kick in as I trucked through my classes and I struggled to keep up with school and work. Every day began to feel draining as it was a nonstop routine of school, work, sleep, and repeat. I would go to school as usual as I had the occasional concert to boost my mood and energy. This final year also included more field trips that at least got everyone out of our everyday classroom. The senior class showed out as they only had a couple of months left before we all parted our separate ways and adventured off to colleges and the workforce. Senior year involved many “lasts” like homecoming, battle of the bridge, and Prom. My last Prom was fun as I got to spend it with my friends and dance all night. Just to make the night even better, I was shocked to be crowned the 2023 Prom King, along with Emma Cubberley as the Queen. As it is just a mere 10 days until we walk across the stage at graduation, all we can think about is the future. We will only have one more summer to spend together before we all begin the rest of our lives. As Taylor Swift once said, “You’re on your own kid, you always have been.”