Smoke Signals

Through a Senior’s Eyes

End of Part One–Three Left!

Jennifer Welch

Assistant Editor-in-Chief

The first quarter of our senior year is completed!   We have passed the halfway point of the semester, and report cards have gone home.  Out of the approximately forty weeks we have to enjoy being the top students on campus, we have successfully moved through the first ten weeks.  This serves as a wake-up call to all those who have not yet begun to participate in all the events that we will never again experience in high school.  The first day of school, Homecoming Dance, Fall Play, and fall sports have all passed, with many of us seniors expressing our school spirit and excitement at these occasions.  Yet do not fear if you missed any; the year still contains countless  enthusiastic experiences in which to partake.

Students at West are either satisfied, or disappointed with how well (or poorly!) they have done this quarter.  Some realize that all that tedious homework, worth what seems to be insignificant points, actually really matters to a grade.  Hopefully, these will learn quickly from this assumption, and work to make up for the slack.  Others are breathing easier knowing that the work they have done has paid off with an acceptable grade.  If they keep this up, there will be few surprises at the end of the semester.  As the semester grades will be viewed by colleges before acceptances are finalized, these do matter.  The common senior response to grades is to believe that they make no difference, as colleges will have accepted before they are seen.  This is a disastrous mistake, as colleges are given access to these, and may revoke an acceptance if the student proves to have grown lazy senior year.  So treat grades with their due respect, and uphold your GPA.  Use the knowledge gained this quarter to ensure that the rest of your senior year is a blast, and that next year is the best possible by maintaining your grades.

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Applying for Life

Jennifer Welch

Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Now that the end of October is here, college applications are in full swing.  Most private schools have already begun the process, the California State schools are allowing submission, and the University of California schools will be accepting applications at the beginning of November.  It is now that we seniors begin making even more decisions that will shape our futures forever.

College is incredibly different than high school.  Responsibility descends upon us as many will move out into dormitories or apartments.  Even registering for classes is singular, as a full schedule is not guaranteed at impacted schools, and each class must be paid for. Yet before we begin this new life, we must choose where we wish to attend.  There are no promises of being accepted to a school, or of even enjoying the experience.  We have toured the campuses, researched the schools and majors, and compared rankings all in an attempt to guess where we will be most happy.  Then, after the often tedious application completing, we cross our fingers and send off the forms.

Choosing which colleges to apply to has been the most difficult step in this process for me.  I find myself torn between wanting to give myself all the best school possibilities, and limiting the number of applications I have to fill out.  As I type the names of all the classes I have taken the last three years, I ask myself whether I will even attend this school if accepted.  I find myself pondering all of the different scenarios I may find myself in come March, when acceptance and rejection notices are given, in an effort to distinguish how my future will play out.

Throughout this wondering and debating, I also find myself thinking how the school I will eventually attend will shape my life.  My opinions may be altered, the people I will meet vary significantly according to campus, and the degree I earn will carry different weight depending from where I earn it.  School location is also vital.  Will I, a Southern California kid, be happy living in continual rain in Seattle?  Do I want to stay in state or leave it?  Will I be content only seeing my family for three weeks at Christmas and during the summer if I do not have a job?  These considerations must be carefully made before any conclusions are made.

As we all work through these next few months, weigh decisions attentively as they will influence where you spend the next years of your life, as well as what jobs you will be able to work at once your schooling is over.

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The True Tale

Jennifer Welch

Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Big sigh of relief. The October SATs are now over, leaving all the seniors in a state of anxiety until scores are released in November. They ponder whether the dream score has been achieved enabling attendance at the dream college to get the dream degree to have the dream career, and so have the dream life. A happily-ever-after ending that always seems to complete a story.

Since first awareness, children have been told they are special and unique. Upon entering school, the individual is encouraged and valued. In high school, creativity and originality are praised and rewarded. Yet once the first step is taken to higher education, the student is stopped with the SAT. The Standardized Test. What? Where did the inventing, the breaking away from normal go? The student mind has been repeatedly assessed by professionals and the average, the typical, created. With this test, the brain of a college-bound student is now evaluated by how well tiny bubbles may be filled in the correct order. Granted, this order is difficult to discover, and the obscurity of the answer brushed away as a result of studying and hard work. Yet despite the fact that doodling, drawing, and creating a choice “E” is frowned upon, the score is earned by the individual. It is a personal struggle.

Thankfully, however, the college admissions personnel recognize that the number now assigned to a name does not reflect the quality of that person. They are trained to weigh the numbers and use all of the information on the application to determine whether that student belongs at their school. A test in itself may reflect basic test-taking abilities, but not the intelligence of the student. As the trembling senior realizes this, suddenly, the true fairy tale is remembered. The hero did not waltz into fame and glory. It was battled for and through endurance and strength, eventually earned. It would not be much of story if the prince walked up to the tower, asked the dragon nicely to leave, and escorted the princess away. Similarly, it is the speed bumps that make the ride interesting. No matter what the “standardized” test concludes, the book does not end here. Walk out of the testing facility and continue, because a single test will not ultimately establish the future of a determined student.

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Senior September

Jennifer Welch

Assistant Editor-in-Chief

As the first month of school draws slowly to a close, the we, the seniors at West High, are gradually growing into our new role. No longer do we scan the hallways looking for those now graduated. We have ceased thinking of ourselves as juniors, but are still feeling out our places as seniors. Do we want to take the year easy? Should we work hard to try and get into the best college possible? We must answer these and other questions.

This column will “scrapbook” the highlights of this year for us as we begin the transition from mandatory public education to our adult lives. The first page should therefore acknowledge the first day of school. As we walked through the gates, many of us were silently smug as we observed the campus. Little had changed this summer, except the exciting newly painted cafeterias, and we were familiar with it all.

As we glanced at our schedules, we smiled. As seniors, we knew precisely where each class was located; there were no mysteries. The teacher’s names were at least faintly familiar, and there were many with which we are already acquainted. Most of us had received the classes we wanted, finally having the long-coveted seniority. For some these classes were highly academic, others chose as to give themselves a relaxed senior year. In general, however, we were content.

Another standard event that has occurred thus far this year was Club Rush. While not regarded by some as exciting, it is a key event as it is the beginning of this year’s club life. As seniors we are no longer frantically trying to determine which clubs will help our college applications most, as we are fairly certain which clubs we are joining. A few are even adventurous, and will partake in new clubs for them. Club Rush also marks our last chance to participate in all the clubs we had been putting off for the last three years. Whatever your decisions are, make sure that your choices are what you enjoy doing, or will benefit you the most.

Many seniors vow to make this year the best ever, and while I hope this comes true,
realistically we can only work hard and take advantage of all this school offers in order to have the best time possible.

The School Newspaper of West High School
Through a Senior’s Eyes