Dear Underclassmen….

Advice and assurance from a senior saying goodbye

Last August, I found myself swimming in articles online about senior year, trying to get as excited as possible for the memorable time ahead of me. I found songs that made me want to leap at every opportunity I could, and I found letter upon letter from people who had once been in the shoes I was about to wear. They were letters that people had written to seniors, telling them to enjoy every moment and make the most of the year ahead. I spent hours reading through them, becoming nostalgic before the year had even began. Those letters got me pumped for my last year of high school. But why do they only have to be for seniors?

I’ve written for The Royal News since I was a tiny little freshman with a ponytail and boulder-sized backpack who stumbled into the first meeting hoping I was in the right place. Now, here I am, four years and seventeen articles later. Attending my last Royal News meeting was easy while other writers struggled to think of topics to write about. The only thing that made that meeting hard was knowing it was my last one ever. As for my article, I knew how I wanted to go out. I want my last article to leave a lasting impression on the students who will walk the halls of North Royalton High School long after I’ve graduated. There are numerous letters out there addressed to seniors. Now, as I sit here listening to my “graduation” Spotify playlist, I write this one for all of you. Here goes.

Dear Underclassmen,

Hey there. I’m Rachel. I’m a graduating senior with the class of 2018. Maybe I know you; maybe I don’t. Regardless, I want you to know I care about you. It’s insane to me that in just a few short weeks, I’ll walk out of those Heritage Hallway doors as a NRHS student for the very last time. As I think about that, I think of all of you, and I want to share my experience with you.

No matter how far along you are in your high school experience, get involved in as much as you can. Our school abounds with opportunities for you to discover new activities, make new friends, and be a part of something special. I’ve lost count of how many school activities I participated in, but what I do know is that each one brought me joy at some point and memories that I’ll remember forever. So whether you’re an eager freshman ready to dive right in to high school (just like I was!) or an incoming senior who is feeling like you’ve missed your chance, I’m here to tell you you’re not out of time yet. Try something new. I promise something good will come of it, and you’ll get to make friends with people you previously barely glanced at in the hallway.

That’s another thing — friends. Just be kind to everyone, okay? I know how cliché it sounds, but you truly have no idea what anyone is going through. Get to know them before you judge them. Reach out. Include the quiet girl in your group of friends — I’ve been there, and trust me, it’s very much appreciated. Don’t treat anyone like they are invisible. You’ve guessed it, I’ve been there, too. As sad as it is, there are probably going to be people who judge you or ignore you or betray you. Don’t let their actions make you feel bad about yourself. Doing that will only give them more power, and they’ll have taken your happiness from you. Instead, rise above. Doing so and moving on with your life is going to strengthen you and make you a better person.

Believe it or not, every single one of us is going through the same stuff. There are people out there who care about you within these walls and outside of them. Don’t you ever forget that or let judgemental looks and comments tell you otherwise. You are amazing.

Enjoy every moment of high school. Go to the football games. Participate in spirit week. Challenge yourself with new classes, and make friends with as many people as you can. Take a chance. Ask someone to the dance. Don’t look back on these days with regret, because soon you’ll be a senior in your last three weeks of school, wishing you hadn’t waited so long to take those chances. Opportunities are all around you – grab as many of them as you can while you have the chance.

Don’t wish this time away. If you’re anything like me, there will be times you’ll cry yourself to sleep and you’ll want high school to end that day. There will also be nights when you’re with your friends at Steak and Shake after a school dance, slurping down milkshakes and shoveling french fries into your mouth. Times like those are the ones you’ll wish would never end. This is your youth, and while I truly believe that as Brad Paisley once said, “These are nowhere near the best years of your life,” they are some pretty darn good times times, drama and all. Don’t let that garbage bring you down. You keep your head held high and your smile on your face with kindness overflowing from your heart, and I promise you that you will make it.

For so long, I’ve been counting down the days to graduate. When people ask me how I’m feeling about it, my response is usually, “I am so excited. It’s time to go. It’s time for a new start.” And while I still eagerly look forward to my new beginning in the fall, I am realizing that this time is never coming back. I don’t doubt that you’ll have moments in which you’re so fed up with something from school that you’re ready to leave right now. But there will be moments when you’re surrounded by the people you’ve grown up with and you will realize that your times together — all of you — are quickly diminishing. Cherish those moments. Nobody knows what the future will hold.

So dear underclassmen, enjoy every moment. You have great days ahead of you in college and your adult life, but right now you’re here. Once it’s gone, you’ll never get the chance to be in those little joyous moments with your friends and classmates again. Get involved and don’t judge people. Be nice to everyone, and make the most of this time together. Stay focused on your schoolwork, but also make it a priority to make memories with those around you. High school comes and goes, but the memories that you make during your time there will last forever. Make them good ones.

All my love,
Rachel Pavelich, Class of 2018

Rachel Pavelich is a senior at North Royalton High School. She is involved in numerous clubs including student council, NHS, and Link Crew, and is president of Key Club and Video Club. She enjoys her job at The Children’s Place, and when she’s not working or participating in activities for one of the clubs she’s in, she enjoys traveling, running her own T-shirt blanket business, and sewing her own clothing. She hopes to attend college next year to study fashion merchandising.