A Year in Review: The Sophomore Perspective

Long story short, sophomore year is fun. If that’s not enough for you, read on…

Every year in high school has its milestone. Freshman year is marked by the first day of school, senior year by the last, and every day of junior year seems to be important. Sophomore year just isn’t like that. It’s these 180 days (minus whatever you don’t feel like showing up for) of emptiness during which we must make something happen. There is no school to familiarize ourselves with, no college that is closely monitoring us. Instead, we are left to our own devices to get more involved, to make better friends, and to finally shift closer to that back wall of the cafeteria. If nothing else, sophomore year is a time to keep on keeping on. Why do we so blindly continue? The underlying goal of sophomore year seems to be finding that purpose, especially considering there’s a whole other half of high school to make it through. Based on our experiences this year, here are what we consider the answers to be.

Resumes: Of course, few of us have actually typed out all our accomplishments so far, but that abstract piece of paper has been floating through our grade’s collective conscious for the past year. The understanding that our worth is tied to our involvement in activities in and out of school has prompted us to put ourselves out there in ways we may have never considered before. Almost everyone took on a greater leadership role this year, not only in clubs and on teams, but in the classroom. Hands were raised with more confidence, and in fact, many of us forwent that old signal in favor of a more conversational approach. In many cases, we even blurted out what we had to say when the teacher wasn’t asking for an answer, which can certainly cause trouble in the worst moments but has also sparked some of the best classroom experiences to date. It’s not as if these moments can somehow be recorded on our resumes. Still, that list of accomplishments has prompted us to be better students, not just through intense studying, but through better engagement with our peers and teachers. In turn, classes became more fun this year, no longer enveloped in silence punctuated only by the occasional comment teachers dragged out of their students. This year, silence was rare, and probably greatly appreciated by our teachers when it did come.

Sophomore ego: Walking in on the first day of school at 11am, our grade certainly felt a boost of confidence.  We had made it through freshman year, so of course we felt like we knew everything. This sense of superiority had not necessarily been “earned,” or at least not to the extent that our behavior suggested, especially considering that we were not yet upperclassmen. Still, this feeling that we knew the school better, and that the school knew us better, was enough to make walking in each day a little less daunting and a little more exciting.

This familiarity affected more than just our egos, too. Although the difficulty of the year for each person varied, overall, academics were the same or even easier than freshman year. We were used to the climate of the school, knew what we were good at, and were mostly better at managing time. Plus, with AP classes becoming available, some of us received a GPA boost (which isn’t the point of taking AP classes, but it was a nice bonus.) We also didn’t have the stress of SATs looming over us as the juniors did. However, there were certainly some times during the year – we’re looking at you, second quarter – where it was just hard to get motivated. Not to mention that things got real in Algebra 2. A lot of sophomores also had their first AP tests this year, and preparation was Stressful™. To be honest, though, the tests weren’t terrible, besides the AP Euro short responses (College Board, please refrain from invalidating my scores).

Friends: Seeing as we’re now almost halfway through high school, sophomore year was also the perfect time for friend group restructuring. While there are still a few circles that remain largely intact and will likely stay the same for the next two years, everyone made at least one new friend this year. School friendships finally moved past the walls of each classroom, and blurred faces passing in the hallway became some of our best friends. In fact, many of the tight bubbles that surround each friend group thinned out this year, if not popping completely. We’re not yet at the point where everyone is friends with everyone, but there’s certainly more friend group crossover than ever before, and it’s fun to see the unexpected combinations of people that have come to be during this past year.

In terms of our social calendars, sophomore year also included the first of the three high school dances, unless you were *that* cool as a freshman and already went to prom. For most of the class, though, it was kind of a dry run for what to expect at junior and senior prom. To be honest, this year’s semi was more than anyone could have expected; exquisite location and good food were just some of the many successes. One could even conclude that it was objectively better than the junior prom…though we don’t think we should say that.

Now that the year is coming to a close, we can finally set our eyes on all that is to come. Many of us already have, given that one of the most important aspects of sophomore culture is the anticipation of junior year. Junior year is preceded by rumors from upperclassmen that it will kick your butt and leave you crying in your closet at 1 am on a Tuesday… so that’s something to look forward to, right? Plus, we have the excitement of SATs and actually having to think about our futures.

What does the future look like for the class of 2021? There are two more years to decide all the details, but if sophomore year has taught us anything, it’s that when given the opportunity, our grade truly can make something happen. Sure, that accomplishment is undefined and perhaps a little self-indulgent, but it genuinely was a good year for our grade. We are undeniably more connected to this school than we were at the start of the year, and you can’t lie and say that this connection hasn’t had its perks. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, these connections make everything seem a little less scary and a little more exciting. Sophomore year is what you make of it, and together we’ve been able to make it a truly fun experience. Here’s to hoping that next year can feel the same.

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