Ray’s Reflection: Jonathan Cao
Well, it’s time. Students born in ‘04 and ‘05 are finally graduating high school.
You would think I would be very excited, but honestly, it’s terrifying. High school is basically the last step of my teenage years before adulthood. Once I go to college, I’ll be closer to having to pay bills, find a wifey, and become independent. Looking back, I do have some regrets that I wish I didn’t do, but what’s done is done. High school taught me how fast time can go by. Obviously my education has taught me everything I know now, but I feel like not even high school is able to prepare me for what I have ahead of me. Adulthood is a very scary thing, and I believe that no one is ever ready for it, and that every adult has definitely shared the exact same feeling.
2019 was my first year of high school. Everything felt so big around me, and I thought it was going to be a long 4 years until I could graduate like my older cousins did. It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year when COVID-19 broke out. I was excited that I got to stay home everyday playing video games while my teacher taught over a zoom call. It was amazing.
Sophomore year, COVID was still an ongoing pandemic, and anywhere I would go, I had to wear a mask and squirt a bunch of hand sanitizer on me. School started to feel boring. I missed eating lunch with my friends, I missed hanging out with them, and I missed everything that COVID took away from me. I felt like the reason the years seemed to be flying by was because of the pandemic and online school. It all went by in a second.
Finally, it was my junior year, and I moved from my old school to Marco Island Academy. It was very strange to me, because this was when COVID-19 was still a huge concern, and I was the only person wearing a mask in the school. I met some new people, but I always stayed quiet because it was a new environment. I didn’t join any sports or clubs because it always felt really awkward talking to the other juniors. Then, everything changed when I started talking to the upperclassmen, like Nick Smithem, Tony Castillo, and Khai Baldwin. They helped me become more comfortable talking to other people, and helped me grow from being antisocial and shy to talking and making a lot more friends at the school.
My entire junior year, I only talked to them. And while I loved that friend group, all good things must come to an eventual end. It was nearing the end of the year, and it was time for them to graduate. Khai was moving to Boston for college, Tony stayed instate but went to Santa Fe in Gainesville, but Nick stayed in Naples. While I still see them here and there, I am so grateful for them shaping me into the person I am today.
Now, as a 2023 senior, looking back, it wasn’t all that. This year, I made many new friends, joined the soccer team, and even joined the powder puff event with a few of my friends. I had so much fun, and I am still trying to make the most of it. I wish I could go back to the year before just to do it all over again. Yes, COVID played a major part in making the time go by quickly, but it is what it is. Junior year was a big change going to a different school and leaving my friends back in Pennsylvania, but it was just another chapter in my life that I had to go through.
Now, for the next chapter in my life, I will have to go through the experience of adulthood…to be continued.