Senior Banquet – 2020

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Hannah

Senior Hannah Zozobrado poses at "East High," the fictional high school from the "High School Musical" franchise. She holds up a paper plate, a signature activity of many banquets.

By Hannah Zozobrado, Arts Editor

Ah, high school. I’ve seen so many movies about it. 

At five years old, I remember watching “High School Musical” in the living room of my cousins’ house, enjoying the iconic end scene where they dance and sing “We’re All in This Together,” like the multi-talented flash mob of athletic theater-kids they are. I had learned the dance (my cousins and I reenacted that scene multiple times—I was Sharpay), sung the song and watched the series an unhealthy amount of times after that. In the third and final movie of the series, (spoiler alert) Troy Bolton chooses to go to UC Berkeley, as he says it’s also conveniently “32.7 miles away” from his girlfriend, Gabriella Montez, at Stanford.

Sometime in elementary school, I had watched “A Cinderella Story.” The one where Hilary Duff has to take on a job at a hip local diner and, like some weird string of fate, meets her Prince Charming—who just so happens to be the quarterback of her high school football team—in an extravagant and suspiciously well-done masquerade ball hosted by the school. Together, (spoiler alert) the lovebirds both end up going to Princeton.

After 13 whole years of movies and songs romanticizing high school and the experience for me, the almighty WCHS arc at the main office entrance seemed so grand. I remember thinking this is where it begins, as if that moment were the opening scene in my own high school coming-of-age movie (cringey, I know).

My first high school lunch was spent with my Cabin John friends. We were sitting on the floor near the entrance with our lunch boxes because apparently not everyone sat in the cafeteria. That was disappointing: What about the food fights? I remember deflating even more when I later saw a spider on the floor, casually sprawled by my Lunchables.

My freshman year, I came in with the highest expectations, acting like at any moment, some woman can walk into my life and tell me I’m the lost Princess of Genovia or something (maybe my expectations weren’t this extreme, but hopefully you get the “Princess Diaries” reference). But unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

It was around my junior year when I began to really understand: high school is a weird middle. I’m a kid, but I’m also a young adult. I’m considered “too young to understand what I’m talking about,” yet old enough to have my own opinions and to be held accountable for my own actions. A grey area.

If this societal idea of what and who you’re meant to be at your age is so unclear, then what’s stopping you from simply being who you are and doing things your way? To not conform to an outsider’s view of your identity, to not be swayed by Hollywood’s ideal version of your adolescence, but to be true to your vision of your own youth?

High school was never meant to be the place where everyone got to have that one breakthrough and film-esque experience. It was never meant to be a time where you were expected or should expect those cliché high school tropes to happen to you. It’s supposed to be a time where you outgrow those fantasies and finally wake up to see that your high school experience is irrevocably yours and yours only. 

Yeah, I never got to replicate that final scene of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” wildly poking out the sunroof of a friend’s speeding car on a late night drive. And sure, I never pulled a classic Ferris Bueller move by dragging my best friend out of the house to help me fool the principal just so I could skip a day of school, nor did I ever encounter anyone with a literal Burn Book. 

Yet, my time in high school had strangely been like a movie of its own, a short but precious film I often run through my head when I think of my friends—including the ones I’ve lost touch with along the way—and the many things I’ve done since that first disappointing lunch with a spider (I just wish my embarrassing moments weren’t so Blu-Ray and high in resolution, and that they stopped replaying themselves in my brain at the most random times. Yikes).

I’ve also found that in the same way movies fail to leave out the stressful high school environment and those awful off-days, they don’t fully show the amount of effort that is necessary in getting admitted into colleges like UC Berkeley, Stanford and Princeton (not once did I see Troy Bolton do his homework). 

For those who are planning to continue on to college, the application process is inevitable, so my food-for-thought for you is this: If you can honestly say you’ve worked your hardest throughout your high school career, then that in itself is worth more than any college acceptance or rejection. 

As a second semester senior whose chance of seeing my high school friends altogether in the same building I had met them is slim to none, I’m happy to have lived out an atypical coming-of-age movie of my own that didn’t require the second semester of my senior year to be its climax. And while I would have loved to dance to Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen” at one of my homecomings like Emma Watson in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” I’m not upset I didn’t.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is what they call “character development.”