By Justin Hardiek ‘21

It seems like just a few months ago I was riding my bike down Pulaski as a freshman in hopes of watching our Crusaders defeat the Redhawks. Now I am only a week away from graduating. Everyone always tells you that your time as a high school student will fly past, but you never really understand what that means until the end of your senior year.

There have been so many great moments in my years at Brother Rice, and it is hard to accept that my years roaming the halls are over. Although I am sad that my time here is over, I know that my four years at Brother Rice have been some of the best in my life.

Freshman year was filled with countless memories. It seemed as if every day I went to school something funny or memorable was happening. The switch from grade school over to high school can be difficult for some, but for me I enjoyed it. I liked the extra responsibilities that being a high school student brought.

The ping pong and foosball table during freshman year lunch created some of my most cherished memories. To this day I am still owed over a thousand cookies in won bets from my classmates because of our daily foosball games. Although I don’t expect to be seeing any of those cookies anytime soon, it is the bragging rights that count.

Sophomore year was when school started to become more difficult. You started to realize that your grades and scores from the year have an impact on your future. It is tough to think about college and everything that college brings at such an early time, but it is necessary.

The thing that sticks out the most to me during my sophomore year was when our football team competed against Marist in the state quarterfinals. The winning team secured a trip down to Champaign to play in the championship game. Something about beating Marist on their own field never gets old, and being in the stands on a snowy Saturday morning was something that I will never forget.

Junior year was when I realized that college was approaching faster than I could imagine. I would say that junior year is the most crucial year in all of your four years in high school. You take the ACT this year while trying to achieve greatness in the rest of your classes. It is tough to manage all of these things while still trying to have as much fun as possible, but it can be done.

Junior year is also when COVID first struck my high school experience. I remember sitting in Mr. Peters’ second-period accounting class when he told us to make sure we brought home all of our school books in case we were shut down for an extended period. No one thought that this would happen, but in a short time he proved to be right. COVID caused our whole second semester to be done virtually, which in itself was a crazy experience. There were no sports or extracurricular activities, and this was a tough pill to swallow.

Having to deal with COVID and all that it brings with it, senior year looked to be promising. Mr. Alberts announced that we will be going back to school on a hybrid schedule and that we would finally be back in the building. I never really realized how much sitting in the classroom instead of on a computer meant to me.

COVID taught me to never take anything for granted and to appreciate every little experience that I have. You never know when one day all of it will be taken away from you.

As my senior year comes to a close, I am satisfied with how everything played out. I am happy that our last two weeks are going to be with everyone in my grade, instead of just half of the people. I think that the memories made in these last two weeks of seeing everyone along with prom coming up this Saturday will fill the gap that COVID created.

I think that the best advice I could give to anyone going through high school right now would be to always cherish every moment that you get with your friends and teachers. Although you may go through many ups and downs, the one thing that no one can ever take away from you is the memories that you made and the relationships you created.

I am so grateful for everything that Brother Rice has done for me, and I truly believe that it is the best school in Chicago.