The Picture of the Senior Class

As Henry Wolton once said to the youthful and naive Dorian Grey, “Realise your youth while you still have it.” To Wilton High School seniors, these words will not prevail in their minds as they take their initial strolls in the WHS hallways.  The first quarter of the 2016-’17 school year is coming to an end and the seniors are discovering more ways to be independent, while being surrounded with approximately 800 younger students.  Still being stopped by the hall monitors or facing penalization for going to the bathroom during class, the seniors still manage to fill the WHS air with confidence. Seniors have the choice of their own lockers, their first pick of classes, and the liberty to apply to any college they please.  All of this freedom, however, is contained within the walls of the Wilton High School, of which one half of the student body is underclassmen.  At the most, these students are only four years younger than the class of 2017, yet it feels as if it could be decades.  Whether the seniors are ready to admit it or not, the similarities between these grades are unmistakable, causing the onset of nostalgia for the 17 and 18 year olds who will soon view the WHS halls through different eyes: those of the graduating class.

The first few days of school always proves to be honest and candid, so The Forum set out to interview underclassmen and upperclassmen alike.  When posed the question of how seniors have been intimidating so far, Meghan Golden ‘19 said “this year they’ve been bad to the freshmen… At the football game they were yelling at them (the freshmen) and trying to only get the freshmen to sit while everyone else was standing.”  After a moment of reflection, Golden added that the seniors “were also throwing baby powder at the freshmen, but it was okay because at the end we were all throwing it at one another.”  Golden also explained that she does not feel very different from the seniors, except for their new-found confidence and all-knowing attitudes.  While sitting at a fairly large lunch table with every seat occupied with intrigued faces, freshman Niamh McCarthey claims that she is still “adjusting to this new school” and that the only difference between her and the seniors is that “they know the school better…they have more respect and privileges, which is not a problem because we’re only freshmen.”  Confident with her answers, McCarthey proved to be a very self-aware freshman and was in no way intimidated by upperclassmen.  While listening to the conversation between The Forum and McCarthey, Maxine Tan ‘20, one of McCathey’s friends sitting at the same table, added that she does not even “know who are seniors and who aren’t.”  The Forum may have been lucky, but it seems that this particular group of freshmen viewed themselves as equals with the seniors, despite a few privileges earned by attending WHS for four years. Golden, McCarthey, and Tan may not be spokespeople for their entire class, but they offer significant insight on underclassmen mentality.

Freshmen may feel similar to the seniors, but most seniors tend to disagree. Julia Smith ‘17 said, “I feel as removed as possible from my freshman self- emotionally, mentally, physically, socially.”  Other seniors are certain that they have matured over these four years, but have stayed true to themselves, which was not always outwardly present during the earlier years.  Senior Sarah Nachbar that, “In some ways I do (feel similar to my freshman self).  Internally I feel mostly the same.  I learned how to embrace myself. I knew how I wanted to be as a freshman and I got better at getting more confidence and expressing that.” Wilton High School seniors may not want to return to being underclassmen, but it is clear that without those preparative years, they would not be who they are today.  Linsey Loraditch explains her position on nostalgia, although she is only a freshman.  “I remember in middle school saying ‘I can’t wait until I’m in highschool, it’s going to be so much better’, but now I would do anything to go back to nap time during kindergarten.” Whether it is the feeling of a same internal self, or a recognition of the years without sleep-deprivation, it is only a matter of time that the graduating class of 2017 looks back at their underclassmen years and experience overwhelming nostalgia, reminiscing all the stepping stones that led them to their current selves.  

If Oscar Wilde has taught us anything about youth, it is to not obsess.  Seniors will view both their freshman and senior selves as paintings, each representing different aesthetics.  Whether they enjoy the painting of their fresh-faced, enthusiastic selves, or the one representing  more mature and blasé selves, seniors will recognize that although the paintings are vastly different, it is still the same model.