By Dan Zapata ‘21

Going into this year, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was already clear that the senior year I had envisioned when I was a freshman wouldn’t be happening. Yes, I knew we were still in a pandemic. However, I thought the damage had been done to the Class of 2020, yet here I was already preparing my new double-monitor gaming PC for an entire school year worth of eLearning. My bedroom, once my comfort zone, was to be turned into a classroom. However, I lived here, meaning that during virtual days I would spend my entire morning in class only to spend a very good portion of my afternoon working on homework.

While I will admit that online learning felt like a luxury while using two monitors, it was saddening seeing my new computer, which I saved so much money for as an essential worker, go from something I was excited to use to something I would never want to turn on in my free time.

Worst of all, I felt pretty lonely towards the beginning. I’m in the orange group, while all of my close friends were in the maroon group. I prayed that the school would announce a rotation towards the end of the first semester, but it became pretty evident that that wouldn’t be happening anytime soon, so as an introvert, I had to adapt to going to school every day with people I seldom talked to.

I’m still very surprised to say that despite everything, I very much enjoyed my senior year.

I wouldn’t say I was in a very good place at the beginning of November, the month of my upcoming golden birthday and legal entry into adulthood. Without going into much detail, I wanted an escape from this crazy world. Coincidentally, permission slips for Kairos 154 were due soon, so I saved a spot just in time.

I’m pretty sure this has been said millions of times, but I can confidently say my life has changed ever since then. I still don’t know how I was able to do it in a few short weeks, but I entered adulthood with greater confidence and reassurance in myself that I wouldn’t have ever expected.

Even better, I got to officially “meet” so many people this year. It’s crazy how I have been going to school with these guys for the past four years and am just now starting to call them my brothers. I have never met such a dynamic and unique group of people, all of whom push me to be the greatest self I can be.

It’s sad to think that it’ll all be over so soon.

Just as quickly as I got to know many people, I will be saying goodbye to many of them just as fast. We all have decided where the next chapter of our lives will be. I have recently decided to continue my education at Emerson College, located in Boston, Mass. That means I will be moving to the other side of the country, far away from my closest friends.

Everyone will try to keep in contact with one another, and try they will, because while it definitely is possible, it’s difficult, too. It’s not like when you first come to high school and at least a few kids from your grammar school are attending as well. In college, everyone comes from everywhere and no one knows anyone.

However, because of my senior year, I can definitely say I am ready for what’s next.

So to any underclassmen reading this, I leave you some advice:  You don’t have to go on a Kairos retreat. You don’t have to be involved with every form of Brother Rice’s social life. You don’t even have to make yourself stick out from the crowd.

However, whether you like high school or hate it, always remember that these years are the ones you will remember for years to come. These years define who you are, and if you are not happy with who you are by the end, you now know what comes next for you.

I was able to find myself, but I cannot say I did it all on my own. Something I’ve always admired about Brother Rice is that no matter how detached you seem from the ordinary crowd, you will always be able to find someone who’ll push you to be who you want to be. I will always be grateful for those people, and I will be thinking of them in the next chapter of my life just like how I’m confident they’ll be thinking of me in the next chapter of theirs.

So thank you, Brother Rice High School. I hope to return the favor one day.