To Anna Kuiper, and Every Other Eighth Grader

January 22, 2016

It sounds silly now, but before entering high school, I tried to make myself a bucket list. A sort of checklist of things I needed to complete before I donned a green cap and gown in the May of 2016. Its makeup varied hugely, dealing with everything from teachers I wanted to have to what I wanted my first car to be like, right down to its radio station presets. As a wide-eyed, naive eighth-grader on their way to the big building up the road, these goals all seemed very real and very huge. But beginning my last semester and looking back, they were mostly trivial matters. My goal coming in was to simply get through, but along the way I learned to how be the best Ranger possible, and this is something I believe everyone should aspire to from the start. If I were to rewrite a bucket list for all of you young ones, entering the high school as I leave it, I would give you something more like this:

  1. Go to every dance. I get that dances aren’t for everyone, and that some school dances are better than others. But nothing can beat a night off from all of life’s stresses, a night full of great food and dancing and spending time with people you care about. Plus, the administration is in a great mood for the entire week leading up to a dance, so why not join in the good spirits? There are only 10 of these opportunities in your four years; so look forward to them, enjoy them as they come, and laugh at the end at how much you’ve changed since that awkward freshman homecoming where you stood an arm’s length away from your date and smiled with that mouth full of metal.
  2. Go HARD in the spirit weeks and class challenges. Because why not? What could be wrong with representing your class to the best of your abilities? During your freshman lip sync you may feel a little bit out of place, but it can only go up from there, trust me.
  3. Attend one of every sporting event. The football games and basketball games are monumental, for sure. Nothing can beat a Friday under the lights sporting Ranger green and white. But doesn’t every sport deserve a little bit of the fun? Every sport is someone else’s passion; so technically, the more sports you attend, the more you learn about something that someone else is deeply passionate about, which is pretty cool. I unfortunately did not fulfill this goal, but I am still proud to say I have a friend on every sports team in the school. I am still trying, as the other night I attended my first wrestling match. I may have been confused, but I felt more like a Ranger than I had in a long time.
  4. Ignore the pressure on all fronts. For someone just trying to make it through high school, dealing with pressure is at the bottom of things you want to deal with. But it comes in more ways than one, and can sneak up on you anywhere. It can be at a cliche party, or it can come at as a counselor tries to map out your high school career for you. It can come as your mother or father tells you how many AP’s they expect you to take or how many years of a language they want you to learn. It can come as you look at colleges in February as your friends have already selected theirs and you still don’t know where to begin. What I’m trying to say is, it will be everywhere, and you don’t have to succumb to it. You don’t have to drink, you can take classes that interest you and put others aside for later. You don’t have to take every AP in the book, and you don’t have to fail Chinese just to please your parents. You don’t have to go to college anywhere you don’t want to. You DO, however, need to make yourself happy. Pressure can be a good thing, but it doesn’t need to consume you.
  5. Break out of your clique. This can be absolutely terrifying, believe me. The comforting blanket that is your friend group can be hard to give up. But breaking out of your clique doesn’t mean you necessarily have to do that. It just means you develop relationships you never thought of having. You poke the kid in front of you in World History class and then, five months later, you take him as a date to Winterfest. You talk to the girl who bullied you in grade school in Yoga and suddenly find yourself attending the talent show together. You strike a conversation with a girl you volunteered with once and later find yourself out to dinner, laughing over the earlier hockey game. You still continue to hang out with your besties, but look around and realize how glad you are that you branched out.

I hope this helps you to get a head start on being the best Ranger you can be. This bucket list may not be much, but it’s sure better than what I tried to start from. Best of luck in the future from someone who has almost reached the other side.

Signed, Caroline Kuiper

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