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Looking Back and Moving Forward

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Marni McDowell

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Senior year is undoubtedly the hardest year of high school. College applications, scholarships, standardized testing, Advanced Placement and Honors courses, and athletic obligations can create a whirlwind of stress for Seniors. Navigating this new workload as well as utilizing time management is a difficult task for anyone. These nerve-racking circumstances can bring overwhelming emotions. Finding a balance in the tension is important. Alex Braunschweiger understood the meaning of Senior year, saying, “I was super excited at the beginning of our Senior year. I was focused on how it’s my last year of high school so why not work as hard as I can and have fun while doing it?”

Along with the stress of the tasks to be managed and the realization that this is the final year before adulthood, Senior year also offers moments of reflection.  Self-evaluation often centers on intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth. This ‘Open to Growth‘ mindset is one instilled in the students of Xavier since Freshman year–a 4-year journey of looking back, to the present and ahead, too. In fact, all the pillars of the Graduate at Graduation (Open to Growth, Intellectual Competence, Committed to Social Justice, Loving and Compassionate, and Religious and Faithful) were part of the Seniors’ formation journeys. The question arises, ‘…where exactly have our journeys lead us in our final year?’

Courses Seniors decided to take were vital towards individual paths for growth. Advanced Placement, Honors, or College Preparatory curricula impacted academic progress and helped form individual perspectives. Kiana Rodriguez, a Senior at Xavier, was excited to start her new year of courses. After completing three years of high school, Kiana felt that Xavier encouraged her most dramatic growth in Intellectual Competence. stating, “I constantly find new ways to challenge myself academically and push myself outside my comfort zone.” Kiana expects her last year of high school to be the most exciting and rewarding year. She is currently the only Saint taking an AP Spanish Literature course at Xavier.

Many Seniors experienced emotional growth. Looking back, Freshman year seemed to include feelings of mental limitations. A surprise for some was discovering limitations change and previous obstacles no longer exist. Since Freshman year, Rebecca Vasquez pushed the boundaries of her comfort zone more than a few times. From in-class presentations to participation in the Kino Border Initiative, where she spoke to immigrants and learned about their experiences, Rebecca fully embraced becoming Open To Growth. Rebecca’s progress enabled her to accept new possibilities by the beginning of Senior year. “From these past three weeks, I can already tell that I will be ready for college by the spring and be able to be immersed in the opportunities that it has to offer.”

Breanne Oandasan’s journey has brought her towards a deeper understanding of her emotions. “I definitely learned to let myself be more vulnerable throughout these past few years. Before, when my emotions became overwhelming, I would sleep it off or distract myself. Now I recognize that I have the right to cry when I’m sad and not be ashamed of it”. This acknowledgment of emotion has allowed Bree to grow in self-love and acceptance. Being Loving and Compassionate with herself was an important milestone in Bree’s journey.

Another senior who has demonstrated growth through acceptance is Griffin Forti. Griffin moved to the desert from Texas at the beginning of Junior year. While he had to adapt to a completely different way of life, getting involved in the school community and discovering Being Committed to Social Justice through the East L.A. Immersion gave him the opportunity to make new friends. After forming new bonds, Griffin says, “I became more flexible and accepting of change. Xavier has allowed me to become more aware and considerate of social justice issues.” This flexibility and willingness to accept change gave Griffin the strength to confidently pursue his gifts and abilities in his Senior year. Griffin is currently using his talents while on the Xavier Dance Team.

One of the most prominent Xavier opportunities for growth is spiritual. Every day, when the school sits in stillness and a calm tranquility, students are invited to reflect on their spirituality. Days transform into weeks, weeks into months, months into years–Seniors at Xavier experienced a devotional practice that formed their personal growth. Matthew Rivera, a current Senior, has grown in his understanding of religion and has been able to confirm his own beliefs without the undue influence of others. “Xavier has never made me feel forced towards religion, but rather welcomed to it.” Matthew believes through Xavier’s openness to all beliefs he was able to grow in his understanding of multiple perspectives. The Graduate at Graduation tenant Religious and Faithful helped Matthew confirm a broader context for a spiritual life.

For this Senior class, diversity and understanding were the foundations that connected each individual. Xavier Saints’ recognize intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth. Many Seniors began this year with a comprehensive reflection on their journey. Individual journeys are different; but, it is hoped that each senior will continue to grow in their strengths–even beyond that Graduation Day.

 

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About the Writer
Marni McDowell, Writer

I am currently a senior at Xavier and the captain of Varsity Girls Tennis.  My greatest accomplishment on the team was when my doubles partner and I finished...

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Looking Back and Moving Forward