Dear Canyon High School,

Valerie Alcala, Editor in Chief

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Me during my sophomore year of high school. Image courtesy of Valerie Alcala.

I’ve thought about writing this for a while now. In fact, I’ve thought about it throughout my entire senior year. I wondered what I would say and who I would chose to include in my story. Well, I haven’t figured it all out, but I’m going for it, because sometimes that is all you can do.

Let’s begin where it all started: freshman year. This was an odd year for me. Most kids are excited at the thought of starting high school, but I certainly missed out on that optimistic feeling. For the first few weeks, I often complained about how much I hated high school. You see, I’m one of those few kids who actually enjoyed middle school. I had a close group of friends, and even though AR points often got the best of me, I loved being an eighth grader. Now I was back at the bottom of the food chain. I also didn’t know who I wanted to be. Everyone seemed to have some sort of passion, whether it was for theater or a sport; I had none. I very much floated through this year, but one vivid memory I have is of Mrs. Ausmus telling my freshman seminar class that before we knew it, we would be graduating. Ha Ha. Ya right, I thought. One lesson I’ve learned since is to believe the adults when they tell you how fast everything is going to go by.

Me alongside my friends on our first day of senior year. Pictured (from left to right, back to front): Maria Karam, Zahra Nazary, Nicole Chemali, Layma Khoram, and Valerie Alcala. 

Sophomore year was a very good year for me. Although I did face the monster–otherwise known as AP Euro–Imade it through. My attitude about being in high school had suddenly changed: I was excited to be here and I was in love with my life. This was the year that I experienced my first real love. Everything was falling into place. My friend group was thriving and I really felt that nothing could go wrong. Oh, and if you’re wondering, I had finally found what I liked to do, and that’s all thanks to Smoke Signals.

Remember when I said I felt like nothing could go wrong? Well, you’ll find that when you’re feeling on top of the world, the only way you can go from there is down. Luckily, the same can be said for when you feel like everything and everyone is working against you. Junior year was okay–just okay. I made some mistakes that made me slip into an emotional rollercoaster which led me to some high highs, and some really low lows. Without going into too much detail, I learned that everyone will have their flaws, and it is up to you, and only you, to decide if it is worth it to embrace them or move on from a person altogether. The thing that sucks is that sometimes you don’t have these important epiphanies until after you have crashed and burned, so all you can do is keep moving forward and remind yourself of these life lessons the next time you encounter a similar situation.

Me and my best friend, Nicole Chemali, posing for a picture on the night of the homecoming game. 

Finally, senior year: the year all high schoolers dream about. It has certainly been a ride. I have learned that heartbreak comes in many shapes in sizes and that sometimes you have to put your happiness first (and that’s okay). Senior year has opened my eyes. I have finally decided who I want to be, and after more trouble than I had hoped, I have found who my real friends are. Accepting that people won’t always turn out to be who you thought they were has been one of the biggest challenges, but I am glad to have endured it. I am finally at peace with everything, and I wouldn’t want a single thing to change.

Me and my best friends celebrating our last dance as high schoolers. Pictured (from left to right): Owen DiSciullo (junior), Nicole Chemali, Zahra Nazary, Valerie Alcala, Maria Karam, and Deanna Soto (guest). 

So, what I take away after reflecting upon my four short years at Canyon is that life is constantly changing.There is nothing you can do but go with the flow–and trust me, I know that sounds incredibly cliche, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for cliches.

In the fall, I will attend New York University. Image courtesy of Google Images.

As I move onto the next chapter of my life, I march forward with joy and hope; joy for the new experiences I will have in the wonderful city of New York, and hope that everything will be ok. I don’t know exactly where the next four years will take me, but I am excited to find out. Remember: you don’t have to have everything figured out beforehand; things will always fall into place, and you will always end up right where you are meant to be.

With love and gratitude,

Valerie Alcalá.