Douglas Anderson students share New Year’s reflections

Douglas Anderson students share New Year’s reflections
From left, front row: Madison Tuten, Hahn Nguyen, Sabrina Koehler, Leslie Infante, Kimara Pretlow, Sophia Tempio. From left, back row: Megan Craver, Christian Douglas, Samantha Hill, Gary Hartsfield, Katlynn Sherman, Reece Braswell, Brennan Villacampa. Not pictured: Adrianna Claudio

Samantha Hill, Senior, Classical Guitar

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Media entertainment. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with school work or college applications, I turn to YouTube videos, Twitter drama and Snapchat stories. These things are all great, but not when I have very close upcoming due dates. When anxiety about the next exam or essay comes bubbling up in the distance, it’s easy to be absent minded while watching videos about ghosts and reading all of the trending politics instead of dealing with the present. I use media as a time waster to run away from the big scary real-life things that I will eventually have to do anyway. The anxiety just takes over, and if I ‘know’ I’m going to fail a test, then I try to at least make myself forget about it and laugh for a little. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

Volleyball, a newly found passion I have built on recently. In past years, I have played at middle schools and small non-competitive clubs, but once I started high school, I felt I didn’t have enough time to juggle the sport and my assignments. But, last year I took the chance and tried out for a competitive club, too far of a drive from my home, and played from November to May. This opportunity opened my heart back up to the sport, making me fall in love with it again. I saw great improvement in my skills as a pin hitter, improvement that I thought I could never achieve. This past summer, I went to the University of Florida Volleyball Camp, a three-day camp where I worked closely with the coach and athletes on the Division One team. Although so sore I could cry, I played my hardest from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for three days. The opportunity to even talk to Thayer Hall (#20) was amazing, let alone get hitting tips from her!  

This past year, I have grown so much as a volleyball player, and I have so much respect for the sport that I hope to call my own in college. I’ve already been recruited! 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

I think the biggest thing I learned this year is that you don’t have to keep people in your life that don’t make you happy. I’ve learned this past year that my own happiness should start coming before everyone else’s, despite my own protests. I kept someone in my life for a very long time that should not have been there, and finally getting rid of them let the biggest weight off of my shoulders I didn’t even know I was carrying.  Some people I can’t get rid of for situational reasons. And for these, instead of taking my anger out on them or myself, I use newly found patience and hope for a better future to keep pushing me forward.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Change will not come if you do not actively search for it. If I had known and truly understood this a year or two ago, I would have been happier with myself and my surroundings.  

Sabrina Koehler, Senior, Band

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Not being able to make some time for a social life. Last year I was more worried about college and having my grades B’s or higher. But, I lost touch with some of my closest friends. I would see them having a great time with their friends where I would feel alone. I plan on balancing my life more so I can do both and still be able to have exceptional grades. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

I got a planner for school work and made sure to put assignments and when they were due on each day. It helped me stay organized and turn stuff in at the correct time. I felt accomplished by being prepared. I never had an assignment that I didn’t know about or forgot since I used a planner. I plan on using a planner when I go to college as well. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

That beauty is on the inside. When I started middle school and I was still growing, I noticed that my stomach had gotten bigger. My acne had gotten worse, and I just didn’t feel pretty. Of course I bottled that up and didn’t show anything. I wanted to be like the people on the magazines that were pretty and skinny. As I kept looking in the mirror more, things would add on to my list and I hated my own body. I wanted to be pretty.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Life can be hard, but facing your problems head-on always works.  

Reece Braswell, Senior, Creative Writer 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Thinking about the aspects of life I have no control over. By doing so, I sat pondering over the current state of situations instead of thinking about a hopeful future. I didn’t pursue new avenues or ways of enjoyment. I was a shell instead of a full participant of myself. This happened because of my nature to attack problems head-on – but attacking a lion only allows you to become a meal. My system –  my design –  was my own downfall. After a while, such ponderings wore me down. I began sleeping more, but I learned dreaming next to a lion only tempts its own desires. Finding that middle ground between active participant and letting life take over me was difficult. It’s a middle many have trouble discovering, but it’s the difference between a healthy mind and self-destruction. Being hard on yourself for life happening to you is not how one should handle their problems – it’s obvious. But when you are the only person you know down to the tip of your toes, you think you can be something more. It is then, however, you lose what it means to be human, and you fall prey to your way of handling your life. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

I started volunteering. I decided I wanted to change – I wanted to be kind to myself and put myself out there. I wanted to put into action the very doubts I had against myself. I volunteered at Goodwill, met new people, and even volunteered at the Cummer Museum. At the Cummer, I immersed myself in art, and I even got to meet others who were equally enthusiastic.  

I also started exercising – I ran almost every day over the summer. I ate better food, took vitamins, and drank more water. I thought that if I couldn’t tackle my emotions head-on, then perhaps focusing on the physical would translate into the mental. Putting yourself into a system, forcing yourself to make active changes translates into a better view for yourself.  I was – at least – lucky enough to have that experience. I know many people cannot change due to those factors alone. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

I learned that it is okay to not have control over some things in your life. Apart of living is letting life happen. Most importantly, you cannot control people; you cannot change people. They can only change themselves. By remembering this, I made an effort to improve myself instead of investing unnecessary stress in other people. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Even when it’s a rainy day, it’s still a day you have to live – and who says you can’t share an umbrella with someone else? 

Megan Craver, Senior, Vocal 

Biggest time waster

For me it is reading stories on my phone. I read a story to get a laugh out or if I have some free time. The problem is I can’t stop. When I start a story I get so involved I have to finish it and some stories are really short, but then I think that one was super short and I find another one. A bunch of the stories have chapters so I always say just read the one chapter, but since it is on my phone I click next so it will load and then I automatically am reading the next chapter. It just takes up a lot of my time and sometimes I wish I could have invested in reading my text book instead. 

Best way I used my time

Driving my friends and myself to events. I would drive myself to all my activities so my parents wouldn’t have to. My friends couldn’t get a ride because of their parents and/or they didn’t have their license, but they would want to go to these events and I don’t like going to places alone. I enjoy the company of others. So by driving them it gave me the skill of planning and communicating with others. Also it helped out my friends and their parents. I wasn’t alone at the event, which made me happy. I was serving others, which always makes me and others happy. Plus, those would always be the best car rides ever. 

Biggest thing I learned

I was at my house telling my mom about my day. That day specifically my friend had made a mistake and went away for a while. Then he got back, so I told my mom how happy I was that he was back she started getting emotional. She got emotional because she was happy that I did not judge them for their mistake and was happy to see them instead. It made me learn and realize fully that everyone is naturally quick to judge. Others and I are the rare people that go to the good automatically. Also if we all thought of the good others may not be repeat offenders. If my friend was not judged, he might not become quick to judge. Negativity and judging of others should not be the first thought, especially if we want a better future. 

Phrase or statement to describe the year

Sometimes you need a minute to understand change. Change has been going on more this year than most. Sometimes I get it, instantly realizing why the change is replacing what’s old. At times I have automatically hated the change without giving it a chance. A ton of people hate change, but it is more they are not willing to accept it. 

Leslie Infante, Senior, Performance Theatre

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Caring so deeply about what others think about me and what I choose to do with my time.   

In the past year, I spent a lot of time overthinking and analyzing what I wanted to do before doing it due to fear of being judged for my actions. There were opportunities that I almost didn’t take because of opinions, which I asked for, from others and opportunities that I didn’t take due to the same reasons. Most of my time was spent doubting my own choices and beliefs, which led to an overwhelming whirlwind of emotions that stopped me from doing anything at all at times. There were moments in which I would do nothing but debate my choices with myself for hours which turn into days and even weeks. My thoughts were the biggest time waster the past year of my life.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why?  

Baking. Baking is extremely precise, which requires a lot of patience. Unlike cooking, you have to follow the exact recipe because if one thing does wrong most of the time you have to start again. This past year I experienced an increase in my panic attacks and because baking is so controlled, it would help me calm down. It made me feel in control of something at a time in which it felt like there wasn’t one thing I could control.     

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why?  

To stop belittling myself because others couldn’t handle or like who I truly am.  

It was a constant struggle of who I was and how I would present myself to others this past year. I was in a place where I valued others more than I valued myself, my emotions, beliefs, and thoughts. It took a lot to realize that other’s opinions and thoughts of me weren’t going to matter in two, five, or ten years from now so why should they affect me now. I thought why do I have to change myself for other’s enjoyment or to fit into other’s mold of the person they thought I needed to be. I learned that I don’t, I don’t have to be anyone I don’t want to be.   

I learned that I don’t have to change who I am for others.   

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

  • Be yourself, and if others don’t like who that is that is their problem, not yours.   
  • Love yourself before you love anyone else.  
  • Learn to be free and don’t ever let it go.  

Hanh Nguyen, Senior, Piano

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?

There are several ways for me to enjoy my free time. However, the thing that I enjoy doing the most is sitting with my phone and spend hours on a coloring app. I do coloring based on numbers, which is extremely satisfying and relaxing. I can spend for about 4-5 hours on the app, coloring 2-3 pictures. Additionally, I spend a lot of time on social media, especially Facebook, which I think is a big time waster. The reason for this addiction is the contents on my new feed are so interesting. I like a lot of cooking pages, animals and mystery stories. I usually save posts about mysteries stories to my ‘save files’ and read them when I have time. I can spend a whole day reading all of the mystery stories I have saved. Moreover, I can spend time watching cooking videos and videos of pets. I enjoy watching pets playing around and their hilarious activities.  

On the weekend, I could sit all day with my phone and I think this is such a useless habit. I hate this addiction and I am trying to get rid of this kind of time waster. However, whenever I turn off my phone, I just feel stuck because I do not have anything to do. Mystery stories, animals and food are so enjoyable. Moreover, after a long week, spending time doing these time waster activities makes me feel so much better and relax. I keep telling myself stop wasting time on social media but these activities really help me relax.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why?

I hate myself spending so much time on social media; therefore, I try to keep myself busy. One of the best way that I can keep myself busy is reading. I love the feeling of being covered by the questions from the beginning of a thriller story and as I continue reading, I start to be able to learn the stories behind the truth. I love putting myself into the character position of the story and ask myself whether I would do the same thing as them. I love putting myself in the detective position and trying to deduce in order to see if my deduction is correct. Spending hours and hours on mystery books makes me become a better thinker. Additionally, instead of reading mystery stories in my first language, I decide to spend more time on English mystery books. As English is my second language, I met several obstacles of understanding the lesson at school. Reading books in English helps me improving my vocabularies and reading skill, practicing notation and comprehension of the books. For me, reading is the best way to spend time in free time. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why?

For the past year, I learned a fact about myself, that is I can do so much better. I had never tried doing anything with all of my strength. I was scared to learn something new and I never put any huge effort in it. I loved doing things as quick as I can without worrying about the quality of the production. These days, I started to spend more time and put more effort on the production that I tried to accomplish. For example, I usually spend only about 15 minutes to finish a drawing. Now, I would love to spend an hour and try to get into more details. The result is a better drawing. Another example is when I practice a music piece. I used to practice fast and overlook so many details on dynamic or tempo markings, I just simply play the note. This is not a good way of practicing and this creates a fault sensation toward music. These days, I spend more time to analyze a piece of music and try to work on the details more than just notes. Of course, this effort results in a better performance. I learned that I can actually do so much better at everything as long as I spend more time and effort in one thing. I just have to be more focus of what am I doing, try not to overlook any details and the result will worth with all of my devotion. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

 “You don’t have to force yourself to love, but you can learn to love it.” This is the quote that I use for myself. We are human beings and we cannot be perfect. There are things that we hate to do so much, or as students, we all have subjects that we hate; so do I. I used to hate History enough that I could fall as asleep in every single class of it. However, one day, I wondered why do I hate it so much. I don’t see the reason. Is it boring? Learning history helps me gain more knowledge about the past. I will be able to learn about the evolution of the country and how they fought for our modern life. All I did was list advantages and the disadvantages of the subject. I realized that I put down more advantages than the disadvantages, I wonder: ‘How come I hate it so badly then?’ After this event, I started to create a habit, I listed down the advantages of the activity that I hate doing and learn to love it. This habit not only gains me more joy of doing the activity, but also creates a positive sense for my life. I have more motivation to the learn and to work. 

Katlynn Sherman, Senior, Creative Writing 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Inconveniences or the interruption of my personal work/emotional life from other people. I used to prioritize others needs over my own a majority of the time because I felt that if I couldn’t solve other people’s problems or issues then I couldn’t focus or solve my own. It is difficult for me to be selfish or focus on myself unless I am in a specific mindset to prioritize my own needs, since I am so caught up in my daily life all the time, I use others to procrastinate doing the things I need to get done or do for myself. I shouldn’t have spent as much time as I did on others, though it was probably helpful for them, a lot of that time I should’ve been finishing my own work or sorting through my own issues. Though I am happy to be supportive and helpful to the people I care about, I also needed to realize that at the end of the day, the only person who is going to have my back is myself, and I can’t hold everyone else up if I am not supporting myself first.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

The best way I used my time this year was definitely to figure out my own personal feelings and mindset for the upcoming future, and to figure out who I really wanted to be for myself. Since I had prioritized others for so long, I really wanted to take the time over the summer to take care of myself and not worry about outside influences for a while. I needed time to organize my emotions and priorities so that I wasn’t scrambling in the future to be a better version of myself, as I needed the best possible version of myself for my senior year. While preparing to prepare for college and being an adult, I made sure to hold important experiences close to heart while also stepping severely out of my comfort zone to force myself to grow. I wanted to allow myself to not be afraid of who I am or who I could be, and now I am excited to live and grow as both a person and an artist.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

The biggest thing I learned this past year was confidence and self-worth, 100%. Before this year, I was very shy and uncomfortable with who I was, inside and out. Now, I am extremely proud of who I am, the work I create, and the aspirations I have for the future. It was a really difficult for me to get to a point of stubborn, unwavering self-acceptance. It took a lot of thought and many mistakes, but overall, I have a strong sense of self and a confident approach to my future. I still have moments and days of doubt, of course, but at my core I know who I am. The things I had to deal with and work through have shaped me into the person I am, along with the lessons that have been taught to me and that I have taught myself.   

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Fake it ‘til you make it! 

Madison Tuten, Senior, Performance Theatre 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?

I wasted the most time whenever I sat on my phone and used social media. I think that my phone caused me to be okay with procrastinating. It sucked me into this state of mind that was very detrimental to my schedule with school and work. I got into this very negative state of mind, that any time I wasn’t at my school or at work that I could just sit by myself and have my own leisure time. I made empty promises to myself about “planning” to start doing homework or a project after I had sat on my phone for an hour. Then an hour turned into two hours and then two to three hours and eventually I would have done nothing the whole day after school or work. I was no closer to where I wanted to be. The bad part is how much sleep I lost over this type of behavior; Although, for a few days I would sleep a lot. As soon as my deadlines came up, I immediately pulled all night sessions of doing work and projects, which was really unhealthy. Not getting enough sleep and sleeping too much made me very depressed so by using my phone I would distract myself and it would be just a vicious cycle.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

Last year I got a job at a restaurant working with my sister and a bunch of other lovely people. This would be my first job that I’ve ever had, and it has changed me so much over the past year. The job has been very beneficial for me in terms of financing. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to have my own money and be able to provide for myself in a way. By getting this job I’ve definitely learned a lot of things that help me in my life and with school. It has made me more independent and efficient with my school when it comes to turning things in and time management. The way I was taught these things was through being thrown into the fire in a figurative way, I was trained very quickly at my work and then expected to take care of myself. I think this was very important for me to learn, not just for school but for life on how to adapt quickly and a sense of independence.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

I learned not to have an expectation for how things will turn out for me in certain incidents. Some days, especially at school before I would perform or present something to my class, I would always expect the outcome to be a certain way or often times a negative outcome. I was especially scared of people laughing at me or not understanding what I was doing at all. At my school I had a project to write my own stand-up comedy routine and we would perform it for the class after we prepared it. I was very nervous about mine and I really expected it to come out awful after seeing so many of my classmates do so well. When I started, I seemed to relax more and just go with the flow and it turned out much better than I ever thought. Although, thinking the outcome would be bad didn’t hinder my performance, it did make me feel nervous and overreact before I ever even knew how I actually did. I think expecting an outcome for something makes people overreact and stress out before anything has even happened yet. It’s a waste of time but it’s also something that is detrimental to confidence in people especially teenagers. I think it’s safe to just be yourself and not care about what others think of you. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

  • Be yourself and not a version of yourself. 
  • Just because you are dealing with something difficult does not mean you should give up. 
  • The world will keep spinning with or without you. 
  • We all can fail at who we are supposed to be, but we succeed at who we really are.  

Kimara Pretlow, Junior, Visual Arts

What was your biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

My art work. I felt like the art I was putting out wasn’t as good as everyone’s around me at the time. 

I became very wrapped up in the idea that I was not good enough in the position I was in and I would never get better at what I was doing. This constant overthinking led to more time being obsessed with the quality of my work and me being hard on myself about it.  

I notice it take over my mindset and leave me feeling down most of the time and unmotivated to do anything, even school work.   

What was the best way you used your time this year and why? 

This past year I dived into music and my work ethic. I am always around music, but over this past year I started to see how music affects my mood. It is now a staple in my everyday routine. I constantly need to listen to music at least once every day. Whether that is at school, lunch, in the car, in the shower, or simply just in my room.  This started to help me get through my school work while doing things I didn’t want to do but listen to music that I enjoy and that puts me in a better mood. I started to get more things done and I felt more motivated to do things thoroughly and finish things on time.  Besides that, I unexpectedly got a job before the summer time. This allowed me to learn skills like time management and gave me a sense of responsibility.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this year and why? 

Something I learned this year is that it is okay to like things that others may not enjoy. Early on I always felt like I needed someone else to enjoy the things that I enjoyed for me to actually do them. I counted on the confirmation of another enjoying something that I did. Now it is clear to me that not everyone likes what I like and that is okay because they have the right to their own opinion. Spending more time with myself allowed doors to open to activities, music, and hobbies to explore and flourish in that I might not have known I was interested in if I didn’t take that time to myself.  This now makes me feel more independent as an individual and ready to explore what I enjoy to do.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

 “The outcome that you wished for isn’t always the outcome that was made for you. If something was meant for you and to last, it will, it will not come at the time that you ask for it, but it will come at the time that you need it the most and it will become one of the best things that you could have/do.” 

Adrianna Claudio, Junior, Technical Theatre

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?  

In this past year, reality kicked in when I started learning more about life after high school. Ever since I was younger, I’ve always been the type of kid who was a little more mature than the rest of my class. Even at home, I’ve always helped my mom out with different things around the house. Ever since my dad passed away it was always my job to fill in and help with different things around the house. I never really got a chance to have fun with friends or be a kid especially since I’ve been stressing out about college. I never took the time for myself to just have fun with friends, go out for dinner, or hang out after school. I wish I had been able to stop stressing about the things that didn’t matter as much to me or take extra time to do things that didn’t matter as much.   

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why?  

The best way I did use my time wisely was the way I used my time for school to get assignments done and have more time at home for my family. Being able to not have to worry over Christmas’ Break and Spring Breaks about work that I already planned out was one of the best choices I made in this past year. It reduced a lot of my stress and it allowed me to boost my self-confidence in the fact that I can get work done efficiently.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why?  

I learned to let a lot of things go. Not everything matters and I’m very in over my head a lot of the time. I think that being able to step back and analyze situations and take the time to react when necessary. I also learned to become more selfish and worry about things that only affect me. I would be very aware of everything that was going on around me and wouldn’t just focus on myself. I was always worried about everyone’s perspective but could never analyze my own.    

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

“Aspire to inspire before we expire.” It’s a quote that I think a lot of people know about, but personally I live by this. I’ve seen people come and go in my life, and I haven’t allowed those things to drag me down or affect me in a way where I can’t live the lifestyle I desire. I want to be able to achieve and still have fun before I won’t be able to do those things anymore.   

Christian Douglas, Junior, Performance Theatre

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?  

Watching series on Netflix. I would wake up on the weekend and if I didn’t have anything planned, I would just sit around all day and binge a Netflix series. They are usually designed to be binged, from the usual hour-long episodes, to each episode leaving on cliffhangers that keep you watching to find out what happens next. I’ve finished maybe 10-20 series this past year and I’m still looking for more to watch. My favorite series has got to be Black Mirror. It’s an interesting anthology show that deals with the idea of technology and how it can negatively affect humanity. I binged the whole show in about two weeks, and I am eagerly waiting for the next season to be released.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why?  

This past year, I started to cook dinner for my family. We started getting HelloFresh delivered to our house, which is a meal service that gives you the recipe and all the ingredients. One day, I decided I wanted to help with dinner, and slowly I started taking over until I’m cooking the meal by myself. My parents will come home from work and find dinner already waiting for them. Not only is it a big relief for them to not have to cook dinner after a long day at work, but I enjoy cooking it as well.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why?  

Things don’t go away if you just ignore them, they’re still going to be there. I found myself procrastinating a lot and I am not proud of it. Not only did I put off doing work, I would try to ignore the consequences of my actions. I soon found out that I could not avoid them and found myself severely disappointed in myself. For example, I used to get good grades and paid attention in class. This past year, my grades started to slip, and I struggled in my classes. It took a harsh conversation from my parents to get me to realize I couldn’t keep this behavior up. I started keeping a planner so I could document what assignments I needed to complete and what day they were due. I started my homework first thing when I got home, instead of taking a nap like I was so accustomed to doing. As a result, my sleep schedule suffered, and I felt like a zombie when I got home. I started accidently falling asleep in class, usually due to a boring lesson or a teacher with a droning voice. My grades were starting to be affected again. It took a while to get my sleep schedule back on track, but eventually I ditched taking naps and got a full night’s sleep every night. I slowly recovered my grades and although they’re not as good as they used to be, they’re better than they were. I learned that organization can go a long way, and it’s been helping me a lot.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

I stopped procrastinating and learned new things. 

George Hartsfield, Senior, Band

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Instagram. I could and have spent hours on Instagram because there’s so much to be found on there. One of my favorite things to do on Instagram is keep up with celebrities’ lives and news. I find so many outfit choices, styles, fits and fashion from celebrities who post pictures and Instagram accounts who keep up with celebrity galas and award events. NBA players have so many different style choices that inspire outfits I want to wear. I could spend easily an hour a day looking at outfits from just NBA players alone. Being on Instagram also feeds into my love for cars which causes me to waste even more time. Instagram is the gateway to many car manufacturers, auto shows, and car collectors. I’ve found Instagram to suck me in especially when I do not want to do homework. Opening Instagram on my phone has become a second nature to me and there have been many times when I’ve had to spend extra hours focusing on something because I’ve gotten behind my schedule by being on Instagram; The amount of hours I’ve spent on Instagram is ridiculous, it’s my greatest time waster because while I’m tuned into Instagram and the things I like to keep up with and follow, I’m missing the life around me.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

Driving. The previous year has been hectic and chaotic trying to balance schoolwork and my personal life and driving has been a way for me to unwind. I feel everyone needs and has a go to place when they’re stressed, upset, or angry. For me that go-to place is driving. The blasting of music, singing along, and cruising down the road just relaxes me and allows me to unwind and de-stress. When life has crashed in on me and I’ve become over worked and irritated, stepping in the car, turning the key, and just pressing gas going wherever has allowed me to have my own personal time to get away. I have a love for cars and I constantly enjoy driving. The feel of being independent and having control of where you go and what you do brings me comfort. There’s nothing like having no plans whatsoever and getting in the car and just driving. Driving has also brought me closer with my many people. One of my favorite things to do is to drive around with my dad. We’ve had countless memories of just hoping in the car, driving, watching people, and laughing. Being on the open road is a way for me to clear my head and unwind. The best thing in the world is to accelerate and just listen to car speak, it’s very pleasing to my ear and just allows me to let loose. It’s pleasing to see every moving aspect of the road. Watching traffic lights change, people crossing the road, even other drivers in the car. People are so much fun to observe and watch in their cars. To drive is to be in control, you’re the pilot and you say where your vehicle goes. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why? 

Things happen for a reason. Life hasn’t always perfect in this past year, and I spent many times wondering why certain events occurred and how come they had to happen to me. As I look back now, I wouldn’t have wanted things to have happened any differently because I’ve gained or learned something from every event that has occurred. The past year has allowed me to grow and mature due to things that have happened. My relationships and bonds with family and friends has become so much stronger as I’ve gone through events with them. Yes, during the trials and tests we all questioned what was going to happen and why things were happening to us, but at the end of the day things happen for a reason. There’s no point in stressing about stuff that’s out of your control and that you can’t help.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

“Continue to be you and everything will be okay.” This past year has had many ups and down in dealing with friends and family and felt I was trying to please other people than myself, and I was hurting myself trying to please them when they weren’t grateful for what I was doing for them. I started to change and drift away from myself. But I’ve realized as long as I’m smiling, laughing, and being myself, things will fall into place and work out fine. You can’t stress yourself out about other people and their situations when they aren’t trying to make things better for themselves. Life is all about living as stress free as possible and enjoying the fullness of what’s around you. 

Brennan Villacampa, Piano, 12th

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?  

To the best of my recollection, I wasted huge amounts of time doing nonproductive things; playing video games for excessive lengths of time and laying around in bed all day without a thought towards schoolwork or college applications. This was mainly due to being not motivated, procrastination at its finest, and pure laziness. The danger of these three things is that they can kill time without you realizing just how much time has passed. For example, I would lay in bed for what seems to be 15 minutes when it turned out to be 35. Looking back, I realize that I could’ve gotten a plethora of productive things done, from schoolwork to even just chores, within the time that I spent doing random things.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why?  

Personally, I believe use of time directly relates to the efficiency of work being done. A few weeks before school started, I balanced my schedule daily. For example, within the first couple hours of the day I’d tackle priority things such as piano practice for upcoming exams, daily SAT prep, and other school related assignments. The next couple hours I’d take to myself for whatever I wanted, then end the day by checking on what I got done and didn’t. Within these couple of weeks, I made substantial progress in the things I’ve been working on, and I learned that a steady, consistent schedule like this is very effective. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  Why?  

I learned that it’s best to deal with problems the moment they show up, instead of running away from them or delaying the inevitable. Although this may seem like common sense, getting into the mindset of “finish this now so it doesn’t haunt me later” helped me to be proactive and relieved some of the chronic stress that I felt I’ve always had to deal with, which accumulated from running away all the time. This is something that I overlooked all my life and just never realized it until the stress got so frustrating, I started looking for solutions. This is easily the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year as one little change in mindset can make a huge difference. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

Life is like a roller coaster ride without seatbelts. 

Sophia-Rose Tempio, Junior, Vocal Music

Dieting. I started dieting, initially, to gain more energy for day to day life activities. I was eating better, and I felt a LOT better. I started losing weight and became more obsessed with my appearance rather than my health. Now, I didn’t have an eating disorder, I just was focusing on the wrong side of things. I have always had curves, that’s just how my body is built. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but in this day and age, sometimes it’s a little difficult. I was going through a time where I felt obligated to look a certain way. The thing is, I will never look like the girls on magazine covers. I’m a short, brunette, curvy girl. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! I had lost 30 pounds before I realized that I looked like a totally different person. I still eat healthy, but I eat what my body needs now. I have regained those 30 pounds, and everything is okay now. I still feel better and still have energy, I’m just not as determined to fit a specific mold. If someone has a problem with my body, it is their situation to figure out.  

The best thing I did with my time

Taking care of a pregnant woman. My brother’s wife had a baby a couple weeks ago and this baby has changed my life. Spending nine months with a woman whose hormones have the best of her makes you grow as a person. I learned a lot of patience and spent a lot of time making sure she was happy. I learned more basic life skills like cooking and cleaning. Not only did I learn physical skills, but I now have a lot more patience and tolerance for things. Now, I’m helping take care of the baby and she is teaching me more every day.  I’ve learned more about time management. I’m not raising my niece alone, but trying to help raise a baby, while going to school, is a lot of work. The other night, I wrote an essay while trying to rock her to sleep.

Biggest thing I’ve learned

This year has definitely taught me a lot about myself and my priorities. I used to put everyone else’s needs ahead of mine, but recently I’ve been taking care of myself more. I take more time for family and spend less time tending to my friends every need. It took a long time for me to realize that my life and my feelings matter just as much as theirs do.

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

 “Finish today before you worry about tomorrow.” I needed to take a step back and live in the moment. I feel like I successfully taught myself how to live easier this past year.  

From left, front row: Finn Shields, Sarah Ulrich, Miracle Singleton, Thaiyana Pittman, Hannah Taylor. From left, second row: Avery Peck, Jordan Whitsell, Bella Polkey, Luz Manunga, Tierny Touch, Anna Howse, Qwyn Cephus. From left, back row: Emily Flint, Reagan Franz, Jayla Royal, Mandy Eastwood, John Owen, Sylvia Watkins, Ayanna Gray, Katherine Enoch, Jacob Desuyo. Not pictured: Nur Chodry, Olivia Meiller
From left, front row: Finn Shields, Sarah Ulrich, Miracle Singleton, Thaiyana Pittman, Hannah Taylor. From left, second row: Avery Peck, Jordan Whitsell, Bella Polkey, Luz Manunga, Tierny Touch, Anna Howse, Qwyn Cephus. From left, back row: Emily Flint, Reagan Franz, Jayla Royal, Mandy Eastwood, John Owen, Sylvia Watkins, Ayanna Gray, Katherine Enoch, Jacob Desuyo. Not pictured: Nur Chodry, Olivia Meiller

Jordan Whitsell, Senior, Vocal 

What was your biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Procrastination. Even though I am aware that I have school work or music that I need to work on, I always seem to do the opposite. I would tell myself that I can do it later, or start on it another day and in reality I was just wasting my time. This realization has come to me through seeing how much time I spend on my phone rather than being productive and starting on things ahead of time. After coming to this realization, I have limited my time watching TV and the time spent on my phone. I often delete my social media when I have homework to do so that I am not distracted by my phone and can have a clear mind. I am grateful that I was able to recognize this habit of mine and have since then have worked on managing it.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

Personally, it was working on assignments that are due in order of their dates. This strategy became known to me in my junior year when I was overwhelmed and had a lot on my plate. I realized that if I worked on things in order that they were due, that I would one, be more organized, and two, have a better version of whatever it is that I’m working on. I am a very organized person, so I am always using my planner and phone to document dates and assignments that I need to work on and this is also how I effectively used my time throughout this past year.  

What was the biggest thing you’ve learned this past year? Why? 

During this past year I have gone through lots of experiences that have shown me to be myself. Growing up, I was an only child which made me shy and introverted. Throughout this past year, I have been put in situations that have allowed me to become more confident and independent. This has allowed me to find my true self within those hard times and has given me the opportunity to be a leader. I have come to realize that I don’t have to be afraid to be myself because I have a purpose in life. Now after going through those situations, I am much less afraid to be who I am, and enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone to accomplish things that I never thought I would.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Through it all, I will rise. 

Mandy Eastwood, Senior, Band 

What was your single biggest time waster this past year and why? 

Throughout this year I wasted a lot of time scrolling through Twitter. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed out, I look to twitter to distract me from my problems. It also gave me comfort knowing others struggle with some of the same problems. Many people tweet their feelings and common feelings that they know will get liked/retweeted. Looking back, I realized many times when I’m sad, I scroll through twitter and find myself feeling even worse. The way people tweet tends to be very dramatic and leads me to overthink the things going on in my life. It was not a healthy outlet. I also found myself becoming more interested in other people’s lives more than my own. Drama tends to go viral very quickly on twitter. Reading through the comments or back and forth tweets took up a ton of my time. It could’ve been a more positive resource if I followed inspirational accounts that post positive messages, focusing on the good aspects in life instead of dwelling on the chaos. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

This year I am very pleased with the growth I made as a student and test taker. Nearly every Thursday I met up with one of my closest friends to study on khan academy and study for any upcoming tests. My SAT score went up 200 points which has made me more confident in the perks of long term studying for big tests. My friends score also went up great amounts. We worked on our lower scored sections to raise them up and also took practice tests in the time given for the actual test. Meeting every Thursday allowed me to get in a good routine of dedicating time to certain subjects and not waiting until the last minute to prepare for an important test. I also enjoyed partnering and learning different strategies from my friend on how she understands and preps for certain concepts on SAT. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? And why? 

I’m very involved in school and extracurricular activities that I tend to overwhelm myself and my schedule. This year I learned the importance of not taking on too much at once. I want to succeed in everything I am in, but I found it very hard to give it my all in every activity just because it was too much at once. My moods fluctuated a lot because I was so stressed out. I wanted to be in every volunteer opportunity, every honor society, and every performance. However, I became extremely tired all the time. I learned that sometimes I just needed to take time for myself to recharge after big activities. Knowing your limits is a very important lesson in life. It is good to be involved but not too involved that you sacrifice your well-being.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you  

Don’t sacrifice your mental stability just to impress others around you. 

Luz Mañunga, Senior, Creative Writer 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Laying on the couch, lazing around, and doing various meaningless things has wasted so much of my time for many years, and will continue to waste my time for many years to come. Recently, I have been able to get off the couch to do the things I love, or need to do, but sometimes the couch calls. The living room couch takes me away from journaling, reading, creating, and I am actively fighting against it. I will not stop from creating, even when the couch is tempting. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

I spent the past year reading more for pleasure. During school I receive a lot of assignments to read, and they are always amazing works, but outside of my creative writing classrooms I rarely read for my own self-enjoyment. This year I have started to dedicate time out of my day to sit down with a book in front of me. By taking the time to enjoy reading, I have noticed that my writing has broaden in topics, and that I am able to relax quicker. Reading, for myself, has changed the way that I enjoy, and create other things in life.              

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year, and why? 

I learned to be riskier. Throughout high school, I have always thought of my future in a safe way: I knew that I would be content in my major and career, but my plan wasn’t one where I challenged myself. After attending Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop this past summer, I realized that I never want to be without writing in my life. I decided during those few weeks to change my path in life, and make it something I could be extremely proud of. I knew that by doing this, I could be my best self-imaginable, and my future will be a bright one instead of a safe one. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

I will be more than I was yesterday. This past year, I have tried to build upon myself every day to become a better version of me. I want to grow and change into someone who wants to take the world into her hands and help shape it. I will be more than I was yesterday, and I will grow every day because of it. 

Tierny Touch, Senior, Creative Writing  

What is your biggest time waster this year? 

The biggest way I’ve spent my time this year is in a bed. Whether I’m alone, with friends, or with my family, I am reclined in the comfort of my home. When I don’t have plans, I’m at home watching something—recently, it’s been a whole lot of cooking shows. Since I spend so much time at school or at work, when I’m home I really don’t want to be bothered. I get into my bed, turn the lights on, and get under the sheets until I’m comfortable. I can stay there until I fall asleep. It’s just the best way, I’ve found, to relax after constantly being around other people. I have to recharge my introverted brain. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing; everyone dedicates down time to themselves. I do feel guilty about not being productive, however; being immobile is oddly my vice.  

What is the best way you spend your time? 

The best way I’ve spent my time in the last year has got to be all the hours I put into work. During the summer, I had two jobs where I would put in roughly 20-30 hours each a week—on my own accord, of course. Working taught me discipline. I had to prepare myself for long shifts—usually 6-10 hours each. It also taught me all kind of different trades. Now I work at a boba shop after school, only four hours at a time, twice a week. Even there, I’ve learned so much about brewing tea and preparing drinks. I’ve taken in an entire menu’s worth of aromas from the different leaves. It’s also taught me more about Asian culture, which is one of the most important aspects of my identity. Building relationships with my coworkers and bosses, even having the experience of working has prepared me for life after college.  

What is a lesson you’ve learned this year? 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is simply that things will happen, regardless of my control (or lack thereof). For everything I commit to, I have created a plan, and I do my best to see that things unfurl the way I intended. This year, so much has happened unplanned, and so much that was planned has not gone accordingly. In the middle of September, I took a week-long trip to Boston to visit family and tour prospective schools. I didn’t plan for it—I was having a conversation with my cousin one day and she said, “you should tour BU with me!” and jokingly, I asked my parents if I could. They bought my flight right then. I had to cancel work and all of the plans I made for that week, I told my teachers two-days ahead of time that I would be gone for the week, and then I packed a suitcase. That trip was so refreshing for me, and proved that sometimes the best things aren’t born on a blue print. 

Summarize this year in a phrase. 

“Evolution is seldom planned.”  

I say this because as a senior in high school, I am on the precipice of so many changes. Soon, I’ll be off to college away from my home and my family and everything I’ve grown to be familiar with. I’ll be preparing for a career. I won’t even be under the same guise of the law after this year. So many things are changing and even though they’ve been in my mind for the last seventeen years, it still doesn’t feel real. I’m barely prepared for these things mentally, but I’ll still have to take it when they come at me, soon. I know somehow things will work out in some way, though it may not be the way that I have planned.  Some of the best things that have happened to me weren’t things I could have predicted, and I’m sure in the best years of my life, there will be plenty of surprises waiting for me to open them. It’s important for me, and for everyone else, to reach outside of their comfort zone in order to mold us into the most knowledgeable, well-rounded person we are capable of being. I know I’ll grow from each of the coming milestones I’m set to reach soon.  

Sylvia Watkins, Senior, Vocal 

What was your single biggest time waster this past year and why? 

My biggest time waster was the fact that I was focused on friendships, relationships and social status. I was spending an immense amount of time on social media. It taught me a lot because of the fact that I was able to reconnect with old teachers and friends from my past. It also helped me form lifelong friendships.  I didn’t realize it was an issue until I looked at my phone and saw the amount of hours a day I was spending on my phone. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but when they overcome what’s actually important, it becomes an issue.   

What was the best way you used your time this year and why? 

 I’d say the best way I’ve spent my time this year is getting more involved with church. I have always been very involved, but this year I entered a new level of leadership. Leading people in worship has always been a passion of mine. I have always done it as a volunteer but in August of this year, I started an Apprenticeship with my church which has exposed me to a new perspective in working in ministry. I have learned that I lack communication skills when it comes to telling people that they are doing something wrong. It has also helped me to know if ministry is something I want to pursue in the future. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

Throughout this past year, I’ve grown a lot as a person. I have always had a really good relationship my parents, especially my mom. We are so similar in the ways we work, interact and function. She has always been like my best friend. This year we started having problems and fighting all the time. It was a hard transition from being silly all the time to having to be really serious and start planning and applying for scholarships. This year has taught me that her being on me about my studies is because she loves me. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

Tough love is still love. 

Finnegan Shields, Junior, Performance Theatre 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

I plan on applying for the Bright Futures scholarship and over the summer I volunteered at a children’s museum called Tag! and taught some of the kids about marine biology, space, and many other things. Tag! allowed me to have time for myself and to realize that I enjoy working and learning about marine biology and to come to the realization that I want to study marine biology in college. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

The Bright Futures program allowed me to not only volunteer at Tag!, but at my community theatre, an arts festival, homeless shelters, and many other places that I never would have gone to if it wasn’t for my volunteer hours. I appreciate the program and would like to volunteer whenever I get the chance and not just because of Bright Futures, but also for my enjoyment because I genuinely like to help people. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

On Labor Day, I was hospitalized due to a medical emergency and was required to stay in the hospital for a week and still continue to go because of past experiences. I learned a lot from the hospital, but one of the main things was that everyone deserves a chance. I may not be the most patient person, but if you never give people a chance, then how can you give yourself a chance on anything? 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

I would like to quote my hero by saying, “Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson 

Olivia Meiller, Senior, Creative Writing 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

My biggest time waster this past year has truly been watching movies. I’m very interested in pursuing film, and I often justify lots of my movie watching with the notion that I’m studying technique, or studying a certain director. And even though I am learning a lot while watching movies, I certainly watched a lot of stupid movies just to waste time (or avoid homework).  The truth is: I’m very easily entertained, and I’ve really watched some God-awful movies this past year. I could’ve been doing homework; I could’ve been getting ready for college applications. Those are truly hours I can’t get back. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why?  

I spent a lot of branching out of my comfort zone last year—and I honestly think that’s what I’m most pleased with. I’m most comfortable with writing and writing-related activities (because I’m a part of the creative writing department at DA), so pushing myself to engage in film was hard at first. I participated in the Jacksonville 48 Hour Film Project with my sister, and we created something I’m really proud of. I also worked on a local, professional film set a month or two ago. These things were scary at first, but were extremely meaningful in the long-run. In these moments of leading, and learning, and observing, I confirmed my love for film and creating art. I plan on pursuing this passion my whole life. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

Something I really had to come to terms with this past year was the fact that things in life will only get harder. And that sounds like a very depressing and bleak thing to say…but sometimes we think the worst things in life have already passed us, and we don’t have much to worry about in the future. There were multiple times this year where I underestimated the stress or workload to come, or how tired certain commitments would make me. And so far this year, things in my life have only gotten harder. And recently, preparing myself for struggles to come has made things so much easier. I’m able to base my decisions in reality, and deal with things honestly. It makes things easier to handle. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Do things that make you nervous. And when those things quit making you nervous, find something new and scary to do. 

Anna Howse, Senior, Creative Writing

What was your biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

My biggest time waster this past year was spending too much time with technology. I’ve found while I have been working that I’m compelled to pick up my phone over and over again. I spend so much valuable time scrolling through social media instead of working, and then designating time for me to do that. I catch myself in the middle of it frequently, and wish I could completely let myself disconnect from everything and get work done, but I always find myself coming back to my phone. Even when I finish my work and I’m lying in my bed I’m glued to the screen. I tell myself to read books before I drift off to sleep, spend my time doing something better for myself, but I always come back to seeing the bright screen before falling asleep. When I wake up a grab it and immediately picked up where I left off.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

The best way I used my time this past year was becoming involved in the creative writing department at Douglas Anderson. In my first two years of high school, I spent a lot of my time doing what I was told, but not doing anything extra. I applied to be a part of the Elan staff when I was in my sophomore year, and this propelled me into a different world. I was able to be a part of the staff of our literary magazine, which has been a huge learning experience. I’ve been able to go to places/events around Jacksonville such as Chamblin’s, Color Me Kona, The Makery, and Art Walk and promote Elan. It’s been so inspiring to see the Jacksonville art community and actually feel like I was a part of it. Being involved in the department has given me a whole new perspective of what’s possible at this school and has truly enriched my experience.   

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

I’ve learned how life changing it is when you really push yourself. Throughout high school I didn’t do much in school other than my work I was assigned in class. I was so afraid to submit my work, apply for different opportunities, etc. The fear of rejection limited me. In my sophomore year I pushed myself to apply to be on the Elan staff and I applied to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival. I got into both and it truly changed my life. In Elan, I was able to play an important role in both the literary magazine and Elan’s/DA’s presence in the community. It’s been so inspiring to go to different events around Jacksonville and see firsthand the power of the arts community. At Dodge, I was able to experience readings and panels of amazing poets. It changed my relationship with my writing, and inspired me so much. In my junior year I pushed myself in my writing as well, and ended up winning a gold key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. This past year has showed me how important it is that I don’t just focus on what I’ve been given, but go the extra mile and involve myself in other opportunities.  

Create a statement or phrase that describes this past year for you.  

This past year for me has been life changing. Before this year I was just going with the flow, and I didn’t feel like I had a real purpose. I just did my school work and that was it. I’ve now found something that I am passionate about and it has changed my perspective. I have also had more opportunities come to me, and taking part in them has changed me as well. This includes opportunities in Jacksonville and outside of Jacksonville. It’s been so inspiring to see the arts community in Jacksonville and it’s really nice to know that the arts community here is prevalent. Leaving Jacksonville and traveling to the Dodge Poetry Festival this past year has also shown me what lies outside of Jacksonville, and that inspired me just as much. This past year has been like no other in my life, and it has left me excited to see what is to come.  

John Owen, Senior, Creative Writing

What has your single biggest time waster been in the last year? 

My biggest time waster over the last year has been the use of social media for leisure. While I do use it for school and for business, the temptation to just scroll and scroll and scroll through the pictures of people I don’t know and will probably never meet has taken up so much time that I can’t get back. It’s hard to get away from it all because so many of the people I care about use it in place of texting and phone calls. I think I’ll delete it for a few weeks, but if getting rid of it does more harm than good I’ll just have to practice a bit of self-discipline I guess. 

What is the best way you have used your time in the last year, and why? 

Over the last year I used as much of my time as I could to put myself in situations where I had the opportunity to talk to people who are experts in their chosen fields, and passionate about them too. The repeated exposure gave me contacts in a number of areas and has helped me gain the self-confidence to actively surround myself with people who I know are more experienced than I am. I know that I can learn from these people and improve my skills and myself through training with them and listening to what they have to say. I have already seen myself improve in my public speaking, my writing, and my cooking. I know I would not have been able to do that without having had the opportunity to learn from individuals who really know about these things. 

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned in the last year, and why? 

I have learned more than a few things in the past year (not all of which I am particularly good at) the most impactful of them being how to be focused. I have never been a terribly organized person, but I have recently tried to start practicing minimalism. It’s improved my life more than I could put into words. I started with my phone, removing everything I didn’t need from it aside from maybe two things I kept for fun. Then, I moved onto my room; I took out the bottom bunk of my bed, I still had the top to sleep on, but it was too easy to take a not-so-quick nap on the bottom. I cleared the nonsense off my desk and my bookshelf, and I brought in a chair to work in. While I was nervous initially, I would never undo it, because I can finally work on my passions and myself without getting distracted by things which will ultimately lead to nothing. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes the last year for you. 

I refuse to give my future self the opportunity to look back and ask, “what if?”. 

Hannah Taylor, Senior, Creative Writing

What was the single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

This past year, I was getting lost in the past when, really, I should have been focusing on the here and now of my life. I have come to realize that my life has just passed me by without meaning and now I’m trying to do something about it. I’m getting ready to graduate and go to college and I’m too focused on who I used to be and realizing I’ll never be the same age twice. I spent so long with this dilemma, and it’s a waste of time. My life is going to be changing, and I stressed myself out by thinking of the past. New opportunities are starting to come into my life now and I need to take them as they come. Life will always change and I need to learn to take the changes as they come. I have learned to stop waiting for something better in the future and to stop wanting things to go back to how they were in the past, because that more than likely than not will never happen.  

What is the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

I started really thinking about my future and how I’m going to get everything done. Instead of putting things off, I’ve started planning for my future. I’m so used to taking things as they happen and just letting life run its course; for my future, I’ve started planning some things, and I’ve made a list of everything I hope to do in my life. I’ve always known what I wanted to major in (child psychology) but I never knew the answer why. This year I really thought about why I wanted to pursue it. I finally came up with an answer that makes me feel excited to start pursuing that career, and every time someone asks me why I want to study child psychology, I find a new smaller passion about that major which I can understand and makes me feel more ready for my future.  

What is the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

That the relationships I’ve made will change over time. My sister and I sometimes didn’t understand each other in the past, we really didn’t have much to talk to each other about even though we grew up together and we were only born a year apart. My whole life, those around me who were older told me that when we get older, we will gradually start becoming friends with each other and our relationship will change for the better. This year, my sister started college and I’m happy to say our relationship has taken a complete turn for the better. Since we don’t get to see each other all that often, we always call each other and it feels like I’m talking to a friend. I understand now why so many people told me that I just have to give it time and things will change. I didn’t believe them at first but now I can say it’s true.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Sometimes you don’t have to change, the environment and the people around you do.  

Ayanna-Rose Gray, Junior, Piano 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

The single biggest time waster in my life this past year was doing nothing. Sometimes I’ll just sit in my bed and literally do nothing as opposed to doing homework or being productive, and I think that it’s because I’m tired. I’m just physically and mentally drained after a day of AP, Dual Enrollment, and Honors classes, that I just need a break when I get home at the end of the day because I don’t feel like doing work after being at school for 7 hours. So when I get home, I’ll either lay on my couch or my bed, and watch Netflix or sleep, because I don’t want to do anything else. It’s probably just me being lazy, but it’s whatever. And beds are so comfortable, and once you get in, it’s so hard to get out. Like wow, who knew a bed could be so addicting? I’d rather sleep than do drugs because beds are amazing. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

The best way I spent my time this year was getting to know myself better by doing more self-reflection. I’ve always said that I knew myself like the back of my own hand, and I did, but at the same time I didn’t. For example: I knew what things made me mad, but I didn’t know why, so I spent the past year looking at myself trying to find the it. When I first started, I’d journal everyday (well I tried to journal every day) and write how my day went, what I did, what happened, and how I felt, all very detailed. At the end every week, I’d go back and look and tried to find the “why’s?’ to the “what’s?”. I still journal, but I also meditate along with it, and I do personality tests sometimes to see if I’ve changed, and if so, how? Doing this helped me find out the things I like, things I don’t like, what things make me happy/mad/sad, and all of the above, and the why’s to it all. This also helped me to change my habits, like not being so quick to anger, not stressing over every little thing, even with the important things like not overthinking; and just doing the things that make me happy, along with stepping outside of my comfort zone to find out more about myself. I still have more to do, but I’m more self-aware. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

The biggest thing I learned this past year was to not change yourself for anyone. No matter what. I don’t care if you’re meeting Obama, don’t do it. So, I’m a junior in high school, and majority of my friends are seniors, so once they graduate, I’ll still have friends, but I won’t have that close-knit family type group of friends. While on the hunt to try and find and make new friends, I met a variety of people. People I liked, people I didn’t like, people who I didn’t connect with, and everything in between. Along the way, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should change the way I act to fit in with and befriend different people,” so I tried it. I didn’t like it. For starters, it’s too much work to change yourself to act like someone you’re not, and I didn’t come to school to learn how to be an actor. And then, I became someone that I didn’t like. I was close to becoming someone that I find annoying, and I could not let that happen to myself. And once I changed, they could connect and “vibe” with me, but I couldn’t form that connection with them, and I didn’t want to spend time with people I don’t like. But at the end of the day, my biggest thing was that I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see someone I didn’t like and/or recognize. So I stayed myself, stayed with the friends I have now, and I’ll just worry about it later. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Don’t let the bastards get you down. 

Qwyn Cephus, Performance Theatre, 12th

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Honestly, arguing with my parents has been the biggest time waster in my life this past year. I’m a senior in high school, and my days of youthful irresponsibility are coming to an end. I know it, my parents know it, and it’d be a safe bet to say that everyone around us knows it too. For the past 365 days, I’d been confusing my parents’ concern for my wellbeing as shots taken at my work ethic and independence. When my mother would ask me if I turned an assignment in to my teacher, the small inquiry would somehow form into an explosive, bursting in the air above me, inciting battle on the other side. Things had gotten so bad that we walked on eggshells around each other, tiptoeing around my academic present and future. Looking back on this time of hostility toward the people I love, I realize how much of that time could have been spent looking at college applications together, sharing laughs about my eccentric future plans, and enjoying the few moments left we have together before I head off into the real world.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was eight years old and to be quite candid, my coping mechanisms have sucked. The depression feels like an anchor on my heart. I feel the weight hit the bottom and I know I’m about to go down. It’s always been like that, and after years of feeling helpless when these times came, I grew used to sitting back and letting it swallow me. The depression got worse as my junior year of high school started and it was beginning to get scary. I would take days off of school because I couldn’t force myself out of bed, and my grades went down the drain. It was terrifying for me because I could feel the time pass me by; the days, weeks, and months spent trying to shrug off a thick blanket of sadness. I started writing more during this time. I’ve never felt comfortable talking to people about my problems, but I found solace in the blank pages of my journals. As the pages ran out, I found myself in a better place and surprisingly enough, I found that I’d written poems that I wanted to share with others. This discovery led to a journey of my writing development. Through writing, I found an outlet to help me get through those frequent depression episodes and I also found a potential career for me. I now write all the time and I know that I would like to pursue a career in creative writing. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

Last December, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Maxwell. Max is only ten months old now, but I’ve learned more from him than I’ve learned from any teacher in my twelve years of schooling. There’s something about him I guess. When he was born it was like he had already known the world’s secrets, like he knew which hospital he was at and what he was there to do. It was especially scary for me because I thought he was going to whisper something cryptic to me the moment we had alone time, but as time progressed, I came to see the value of his knowing eyes. Max has always been a happy baby, always logical with his expressions and trusting of everyone. When I’d come to trust myself to watch him two months following his birth, I was met with a revelation. There he was, a small baby wrapped in his blanket, peeking over the cloth with his wise eyes, laying in his rocker while I, a seventeen-year-old girl, worked myself up to approach him. As if my body was being controlled by some unknown force, my legs took me to where the baby laid. At this time in my life, I was experiencing a great shift in my relationships with others. I’d begun to isolate myself and take breaks from my friendships as a result of my depressed state of mind, and it hurt me more than I thought it would. I was extremely lonely and I was genuinely scared that I would transfer my sad energy unto this innocent child. Max began to cry, looking up at me for affection. My arms reached out and lifted the delicate body and I began to shake. It was quite an odd occurrence, but it made sense in the presence of Maxwell. The whimpers quieted and I looked down at my newborn nephew, seeing nothing but the universe. His little eyes, something in those eyes of his, silenced any thought of doubt toward my abilities and his. It was quiet between us, but my heart spoke clearly. The understanding in Max’s eyes, the tranquility only he could possess, told me that I was going to be okay. I was scared to pick Max up, I was so inconceivably terrified of that connection, but I took the first step and it led to something beyond my expectations. In that moment I learned that connections are worth making. I learned that even taking a step toward forming a relationship, can be so fulfilling. Max and I are inseparable now. He is my little buddy and I look forward to looking into his old man eyes every day. It only took a little push to form a lifelong friend. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

A damaged root still has the possibility to grow into the strongest of trees.  

Bella Polkey, Junior, Vocal 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Spending way too much time on social media. Whenever I got bored or I didn’t want to do my homework. I would get on that slippery slope of scrolling through Instagram or watching snapchat stories. It got so bad I would be riding in the car and just scrolling instead of appreciating the world around me, my parents, even my friend’s presence. They would talk to me and I would be so involved in what video I was watching that I wouldn’t respond. I decided to delete social media about two months ago, and I will admit sometimes I miss having that excuse for not doing my homework, but overall I have more time for hobbies, work, family time, and more.  

What was the best way you’ve used your time and why? 

Over the summer I had a foreign exchange student stay with me for three weeks and then I went to France with her for one week. Our relationship was completely based off of trust. Our families met through our churches. Jacksonville to Lyon, France. Our fathers communicated to see if we would have time for another kid in the house, and somehow everything worked out perfectly. At first I didn’t want another kid to come stay with us because I assumed it would be awkward and she would act as a burden…But she was the complete opposite. Her name is Mona, she is 17 and we hit it off immediately. She was originally supposed to stay for two weeks, we did everything from going roller skating (her first time) to going to sea world. It was the night before she left and my parents walk into our room and say “if you want to stay for another week you can, maybe we can send Bella back with you.” So we called her dad, she stayed, and I went back with her for a one-week tour of France. It was one of the best experiences in my life. And it gave me connections to someone across the world.  

What was the biggest thing you’ve learned this past year? Why? 

I have learned to be more open to new experiences and how to gage the level of importance of specific things in my life. For example, I have put my health, mentally above what I think other people want me to be or act like. I also have realized the importance of not procrastinating, sometimes the hard way. But in the end it has greatly reduced my stress level and has made me a better student. In relation to the new experiences, I have a tendency to not do something, or go to something because I am nervous it will be uncomfortable or awkward. But some of my friends have forced me to go to things out of my comfort zone like parties and volunteer opportunities. But these experiences have encouraged me to engage in new experiences while I still can. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Mentality change. For the better. This phrase describes this year for me because I have purposefully stepped out of my comfort zone and made changes to my life in self-care and faith which have greatly changed my mood and attitude to upcoming challenges. I have focused on my needs more than pleasing others. I have also realized what I was missing faith wise. So I have started the path to become generally happier. Also I have felt a new sense of fulfillment.  

Nur Chodry, Senior, Visual Arts

What was your biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Overconsumption. I intend to land a job in entertainment design, and an important part of that is being able to filter what is good from what is bad – but the hobby of consuming and sharing my thoughts on media that I enjoyed, sometimes didn’t enjoy, eventually turned into an obsession, and from there, a source of income. During my junior year, reviewing things like shows, cartoons, art, and comic books turned from something I enjoyed into a chore – something that I wanted validation for. My joy and love for the hobby eventually fled and I noticed my interest in school dwindling as a result. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

Over the past year, I realized how many obsolete some of my hobbies were. A lot of them were not for the sake of productivity but just for reducing my carbon footprint – sitting in my room and playing video games, reading, and watching shows. I decided that there were a lot of latent interests I had, many that were brought on by my interest in various media, and I decided to pursue a wider variety of interests instead of reducing myself down to someone who consumes and doesn’t give anything back. I decided to join a gym and started slowly teaching myself how to box, because combat sports have always been something I’ve admired and wanted to learn how to do. I also began to learn how to swing dance for the same reason. Building up a wide assortment of things I like to do has kept my life interesting outside of everyday work, which I began to perform far more diligently after becoming more motivated and satisfied with my way of life. 

What was the biggest thing you’ve learned this past year? Why? 

I learned that consumption is useless if you don’t give things you learn back. I learned that art is not something inherently good, and not something to be praised, necessarily. Sometimes it is nothing but a means to an end – and that existing within a society with so much content out there for us to absorb means that people, both good and bad, are trying to influence us and our views and it is a person’s responsibility to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

“Always strive to be the best version of yourself and inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, too.” 

Avery Peck, Senior, Band

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Procrastination. Instead of doing work, I would do something that wasn’t going to benefit me in any way. Staying focused on the task at hand has been difficult. I know I should be productive; I just don’t want to. Part of it is not having the motivation to get these things done. This has caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress in my life. I assume the things I need to do aren’t as important and I will do them at a later time (or right before something is due). However, it’s better to get it done sooner rather than later. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

The past year I have been doing a lot more for myself. I’ve been getting rid of all the negative aspects of my life. Surrounding myself with positive people has increased my happiness. Journaling is something I’ve started. It helps release all my negative emotions and walk through how I am feeling. Writing down everything helps organize my thoughts. Organizing my life is something else I’ve spent time on. Making lists of things I need to do keeps me on task. Doing a life cleansing has been very beneficial to my mental health this past year. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why? 

The biggest thing I have learned is that change is okay. I have never been a big fan of change, but I needed a new way of doing things. I have removed negative things/people and added more positive aspects to my life. Taking time for yourself is okay. Stressing about little tasks will cause unnecessary panic. Every once and while change is good. It caused a spark, which had a great benefit on my life. Change allows growth, and without growth people are not able to become their best selves. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Life is hard as it should be. But surrounding yourself with people who have your best interest in mind is how you will get the most out of life. And don’t be afraid to take risks. You will never grow if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone. 

Miracle Singleton, Senior, Creative Writing

What was your biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?  

Social media. It helped me procrastinate more and lose sleep because I decided to scroll through Instagram and find new outfit ideas off Pinterest. I lost a lot of time for the things that would contribute to me walking across the stage for graduation in May of 2020. I allowed social media to be my biggest and only time waster because it was so relaxing to me. Allowing me to laugh, post my own opinions, and stay informed about new things happening in the world. I double tapped a lot of my time away, entertaining myself.   

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why?  

I am committed to a student-run show and club at Douglas Anderson, it’s called Black Art. Being one of three female executive directors over the show and club this year, sacrificing my time so the show and the club can run as smoothly as possible while being the best it can be. Last school year, I was the Creative Writing director for the show, this year earning the title and responsibility of being an Executive Director is such an honor. When it comes to Black Art since I am so passionate about it, the times I am catering to it is the best feeling.  I can connect with my schoolmates and create poetry, help them with performance technique and finally we are able to share our opinions and express the love we all have for our culture.

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why?  

I must re-evaluate and remind myself who I am, my purpose and the goals I have set for myself. This past year I lost knowledge of all three of those important things. There was a change in me that my parents recognized from my attitude to the way I presented myself through wardrobe. When they encouraged me to re-evaluate and find those three key things again, I improved dramatically. The biggest thing I learned was that re-evaluation is key, along with that to never lose track of myself and the goals I have set. I am the only person in the world that can control my future, no one else can take it, make it, or destroy it.  

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year.   

“A path teaching me lessons I’ll need to know for the next chapter in my life, adulthood.”  

Katherine Enoch, Junior, Dance Major

What is your single biggest time waster in your life this past year, and why? 

Whether its scrolling through social media, doing homework on the computer, or re-watching my favorite shows on Netflix, screen time eats up a large chunk of my day. After a busy day at school and after school activities, I spend my evenings, mostly online, doing homework. I get distracted from time to time throughout my studies and end up thirty minutes deep into Instagram. Also, at the end of my day, I like to sit down and watch television. One episode quickly turns into four and two hours has passed. Although I feel like relaxing at the end of the day, I am learning manage my time better to allow for evening relaxing, finishing my work, and getting enough sleep. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year, and why? 

This year, I have been very fortunate to travel a lot both within Florida and around the US. In the spring, I traveled to New York City with my dance studio, Saltmarsh Dance, for a week. Together, we took classes at Steps on Broadway, went to incredible shows, met famous dancers, and explored the city. I also traveled to San Francisco for six weeks to attend Alonzo King Lines Ballet Summer Intensive. Through my travels, I have been exposed to many new people, places, and opportunities. I have had eye-opening experiences, in which I have moved on feeling inspired, motivated, creative, and productive.   

What was the biggest thing you learned this year, and why? 

2019 was a year of growth and exploration, in which I learned about the importance of being open-minded. By trying new things, I learned more about myself and grown an appreciation for many different things. Furthermore, I have been introduced to new hobbies and interests, including various music genres, dance choreography, and health and wellbeing care. My experiences with being open-minded have created new and unique opportunities. While in San Francisco, I studied various dance techniques and wellness practices, and adventured around the city. Traveling a lot with a group, I got to do both things I wanted to do and things others wanted to do. Although I tried many things that were not my first choice, I experienced and enjoyed plenty of activities, sights, foods, and more I never thought I would. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you 

‘Growth is a never-ending process’ is a statement that can be used to describe my past year. Through the many challenges I faced, I have developed and matured my character. Following big events and decisions, I reflected on what went well and what did not. Reflection has given me a greater insight to the decisions of myself and others and knowing where I need to adjust in my life. Learning from past experiences and memories helps to understand the present. 

Reagan Franz, Junior, Performance Theatre

What was the biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Time on my phone and sleeping. I am 100% guaranteed my grades would’ve been what I wanted them to be if I put more time into everything. I took advantage of having easier classes and didn’t take the opportunity to have straight A’s on my transcript. This year is a lot more demanding with much higher stakes. Naturally, I am already working harder just to pass, but I hope I continue to adapt to this adjustment of junior year while creating better habits for myself and impressive results for colleges.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why?  

One thing I’m grateful and proud of myself for is spending time on myself and my mental health. At the end of sophomore year, I had a falling out in my mental state. I took my time, rationalized my feelings, and dealt with those feelings through expressing them onto others. I had to learn how to depend on others for help because I’ve always been used to keeping things bottled up. Each time I thought I was close to the finish line, I woke up the next day with the same mental block. I am most proud for being patient with myself and asking help for the first time in my life, because without those components I still would be dealing with the same issue today.  

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year and why? 

The realization in myself that I am worth it and valuable. Ever since elementary school I have set myself below others. It picked at my self-esteem and affected the way I viewed myself. I used to not give myself much credit for anything and was always in the mindset that everyone was better than me at any task, no matter what it was. Through my growth with my mental health, I made various realizations about myself in terms of who I was. I saw this in how I treated people, how people treated me, my certain opinions on different topics and what I wanted to get out of high school to take with me for the rest of my life. With this I have come out of my shell, made more connections with people, and am genuinely enjoying life without worrying about where I stand on a scale. That all doesn’t matter in the big picture, what matters is taking the good out of every situation to have a better experience to look back on. We’re only in high school once, and I want to do it right. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

Always stick to your own sense of self.  

Sarah Ulrich, Junior, Performance Theatre

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

Procrastinating on homework assignments. Whenever I didn’t feel motivated on a project or couldn’t understand what it was asking me, I wouldn’t try, or at least I wouldn’t try until the very last minute at 1 o’clock in the morning and I am falling asleep while writing, which is very unhealthy and does me no good because I can’t even retain any information that I am forcing myself to jot down. (This sentence be long as hell). Sometimes, specific lessons in a subject would be tough for me to comprehend, and the homework would be even harder. To be honest, I would feel dumb trying to do the assignment, and instead of having to face the reality of how much I didn’t know, I would just ignore it and play FRIENDS or The Office. The weird thing is, if a homework assignment was too easy I sometimes wouldn’t want to do it because it was so repetitive and I got really bored and would never finish. I would make a lot of B’s when I probably could have made A’s if I just turned in homework, and my GPA is lower than it could be.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

When two of my friends and I would meet up every Sunday to do our homework and study for upcoming tests. It was really helpful because it would keep me on task and helped with my procrastination. The study sessions were also really nice because if there was something that one of us didn’t understand, most likely someone else knew and we could all help each other out.  

What was the biggest thing you learned last year and why? 

When I found out what I was interested in for my major in college. It made me really excited for my future. I discovered that I was kind of leaning away from theatre as a major due to my self-confidence declining in my acting skills. And while that was (and still is) hard to deal with mentally and emotionally, it turned into a positive because I discovered the medical field. I even flew up to New York alone to attend a 9-day medical program at St. Johns University where we toured different medical colleges and attended lectures by doctors in different fields. We even got to learn some basic training like taking blood pressure, drawing blood, or making a tourniquet. I never would have thought I would enjoy taking a practice MCAT so much, but I really did and now I’m ready for college! 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.  

The growth I took was fundamental in my journey through life.  

Jacob Desuyo, Junior, Theatre 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why? 

 TV. I’ve gotten caught up, binge watching so many shows. I’ve gotten caught up in that dangerous loop of “just one more episode” so many times. One show being Breaking Bad, which is honestly one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. However, it should not have taken over my life the way it did.  

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

When I wasn’t wasting away my days watching Netflix, I would sometimes get random bursts of energy. I would tell myself, ‘you know what? I’m going to get a lot of things done today.’ These would be the days that made me truly happy. It made me feel like I had hope, and that I could actually get all of this work done. That I could control this. However, after one of these days, the feeling would go away.  

What was the biggest thing you learned last year? 

I learned that I really need to, somehow, connect back to life. I need to re-teach myself motivation and will-power. I need to remember what made me work so hard in school years ago, because lately I’ve felt like nothing I do really matters. Like, no matter how hard I try, nothing good will come out of it. I guess I need to find myself again.  In school that is. Because outside of school I don’t have too many worries. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year. 

Slow-moving and simply not desirable. 

Jayla Royal, Junior, Performance Theatre 

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year and why?  

My phone. It seems like it is attached to my hand and can’t be away from me for too long. Before I got my first phone it was the beginning of 5th grade, all my other friends had cellular devices but not little ole me. This made me feel left out and I was always trying to fit in with the crowd. During my middle school years, it was more of learning the task of responsibility with the phone. Being introduced to social media and what and what not to post and being mindful of how I used my phone. After coming to high school and realizing the true value of a cell phone and how it can hurt you more than help you I learned how to wisely use my phone but that still doesn’t keep it from being a distraction. 

What was the best way you used your time this past year and why? 

Asking questions. This was something I had to learn in high school, I found myself always trying to figure things out on my own and with doing that I wasn’t very successful. It wasn’t until I started to ask questions that I understood more. And once I understood more I was more knowledgeable about certain topics. Academics, arts, common sense, and more became easy to me because of the things I discovered by asking questions. 

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Why?  

To take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities knock at your door left and right but it’s up to you to claim them and use them to your advantage. Most of the time you don’t get opportunities handed to you and that’s when they are most important. You have to create them for yourself. When they are created it shows your true passion for what you love and what you want to make possible for yourself. 

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. 

My crown may tilt but never fall.  

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