BY ALICIA KRUEGER
As graduation day quickly approaches, nostalgia floods the minds of Carmel High School’s past graduates while they watch underclassmen creep closer and closer to college and to their future careers. They often reminisce on prized memories and advise younger generations to take in every moment, something many seniors forget to do in their final months of high school.
“Cherish the walks down the hallways because, you don’t know it now, but you’re going to miss that,” 2018 CHS grad Dylan Steiny says.
Steiny just finished basic training for the Coast Guards in Ilwaco, Washington.
“If I could go back and change anything, I would suck it up and walk around with a smile on my face,” Steiny continues. “If you can wake up, go to school and give your all with a positive attitude, your classes will change your life. Whether you know it or not, those four years of high school will shape who you are and will decide what you become.”
After spending years in a traditional classroom setting, students report feeling as though they wish they hadn’t focused on the grade, but instead focused on the life lessons being taught, the habits they could’ve created and the opportunities to learn from peers’ experiences.
“Your whole world really reshuffles once you go to college,” comments Tara Jones, now a freshman at Stanford University. “So go to all the events, even if they feel weird or cheesy. Get the full Carmel High experience before you go so that you have no regrets and have a more positive memory of high school.”
Madina Inagambaeva, a freshman at Loyola Marymount University, touches on the same idea as Jones, encouraging students to attend events and to take in the little moments when everyone is together. She reminds students that they are going to stay in touch with their friends, but not as much classroom acquaintances or passing faces in the halls.
“Get close with the people you aren’t already close with,” Jones says. “And spend time with the teachers. That’s my biggest recommendation: Go sit with them and talk. You won’t be able to have the same relationship with them ever again.”
For many, Carmel Unified School District has been home since elementary school, creating a tight-knit relationship among peers. Marc Del Toro is one of those students, attending CUSD schools from the third grade on.
“I loved my senior year, and I loved Carmel,” Del Toro reflects. “I miss being around the peers that I grew to love. I miss the teachers, especially my senior year teachers, who really took me under their wing to help me grow not only as a student but as a man.”
The community of loving, supportive students and teachers that makes the high school experience special and memorable—once CHS seniors are gone, graduates remark that it’s what they’ll miss the most.
“I got really close to a lot of different people that I didn’t expect to get close with, and I think that is just because everyone was sort of growing up at the same time,” 2018 graduate Cameron Kincaid reminisces. “We all realized that we aren’t going to be with each other forever so we all just kind of agreed, with no conversation, just like nature, that we were going to be cool with one another. And it was kind of a beautiful thing.”
Kincaid notes how, after senior year, students go their own way. They move on to bigger things and many of the relationships built in high school are harder to maintain.
“If I could give any advice to seniors, it would be that whatever you do in the future, just make sure it is something that makes you happy,” Del Toro adds. “I am taking a totally nontraditional route where I’m taking semesters off from [Monterey Peninsula College] to travel. I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and it is because I am getting it done my own way. Wherever I’m headed, I feel like I’ll be okay.”
Bittersweet emotion often floods the minds of students as they walk the aisle towards their diploma. For the past four years, seniors have worked through course loads overflowing with AP and Honors classes, through extracurriculars in hopes of excelling in athletics or in the arts or through the ever-changing sequences of life. With diplomas awaiting seniors, graduates remind them to stay present and to savor their final moments as Carmel Padres.