They often say high school is nothing like the musical, and yes, I do agree. I do not recall a singing basketball team or a summer where the whole school worked at a country club. However, there are parts of the second semester of senior year that will feel a whole lot like it, the third movie in particular.

Sure, "lasts" have already come and gone throughout the first semester, but now they will happen more and more. Yes, you have experienced the last Friday night football game or the last winter concert, but now you will have last passing periods, last Mondays, last fourth periods, last days, and last times with the peers you have grown up with.

While you may be eager to run out of the doors of your high school, I want you to take in everything you have learned and encountered during your last four years. Of course, there are parts you would rather forget, especially the cringy freshman days, but there are a lot of parts you want to remember this upcoming semester—the best semester of high school.

Second semester will be emotional for everyone. You'll experience feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, and everything in between, but it will all be bittersweet. Think about all the hard work you have put in to get where you are today. When you walked into these hallways, you had no idea where high school would take you, lead you, and change you. Who knew what you'd get involved in, what skills you'd learn, and what you would end up leaving with on graduation day? Personally, I walked in thinking I was going to take honors science classes all four years and become a physical therapist, but after one year of taking Honors Bio, that quickly changed. Instead, however, the English department lit a spark within me and introduced me to a new career path I love: journalism. The English, journalism, and music departments in high school provided me with the necessary tools to grow as a student, leader, musician, and human. I can tell you, after one semester at U of I taking journalism classes and participating in the Marching Illini, that I am thankful for what high school had taught me, and soon you will all realize this too.

To quote Ferris Bueller, who said, "life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it." and let me tell you from experience, that nothing moves faster than these next four final months. You may have a countdown in your phone right now for events like prom, senior lock-in, and graduation, but sooner than you think, those days will no longer need a countdown because those events will have come and gone.

While we are on the topic, I have a few tips about the upcoming senior activities that will be approaching. Prom is what you make of it, enter with a positive mindset and enjoy every minute of it. Whether you go with friends, a date, or both, have fun getting ready, taking pictures, and dancing the night away because senior prom only comes once. Also, your senior lock-in event will be a night you won't want to miss, it was one of my favorite parts of high school. Nothing is better than a night in your college gear with all your friends getting glitter tattoos, playing Family Feud, all sorts of games, and even a hypnotist to end the night. Don't miss out on these events for a fear of them being lame, because one day you'll look back and smile at all of the memories you had with the friends who have experienced so much with you.

I urge you to take in these last 4 and a half months because that's all you have left at a place that has given you so much. If you don't realize it now, you will realize it when you are sitting in your first college dorm room with a class schedule in front of you and all new faces around you. Enjoy every second of it because senior year only happens once.

Amanda Brennan