A Letter from an ACA senior

I remember the first day of first grade. I sang with my mom, “it’s the first day of first grade!” on the way to the car and through the door of the classroom; I thought I was so clever, coming up with that. She was excited for me, too. I remember how my first grade teacher would grant each student a piece of candy every Friday if we showed her an assignment we made an A on. This tradition carried through to second grade. Lesson: good grades are rewarded.

Second grade was a big year of firsts. I experienced my first moral issue. It was a disaster; at least, to a second grader it was. I got my name on the board quite a bit. I was notorious for talking in class; they couldn’t shut me up. Not much has changed, has it? Anyways, I used to not tell my parents. This doesn’t sound like a big deal; but goodness, the guilt consumed second-grade-Annika. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. Until one day, my teacher called home. When she mentioned the copious amount of times I had my name on the board, my parents were clueless over the matter. Soon enough, they knew all about it. Guilty, second-grade-Annika received the punishment that even she knew she deserved. Lesson: don’t lie to your parents.

Now on to third grade. Not a lot of things stick out to me from third grade. The only memory I feel I can actually write on is semi-bizarre. In the third grade room, the paint was old and coming off the wall in places. Where my assigned seat was, there was a chip of paint coming off; not enough for anyone else to notice, except for the girl who stared at it for eight hours a day, resisting the temptation to peel the paint off. One day, I gave in. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt something so satisfying in my life. It’s like peeling dry glue off your hands. Next day, I got in trouble. Lesson: leave your surroundings as you found them. Don’t mess with other people’s stuff.

Fourth grade is a blur to remember. I read several great books that year. That was the first year I remember ever feeling stressed. We were reading The Indian in the Cupboard, and I had a certain number of chapters that I had to have done by a certain date. Well, on the same day the chapters were due, we were also taking a standardized test. I procrastinated until the night before to read and I had to stay up late. Well, late for fourth grade me. I remember thinking I would fail my standardized test and get kicked out of Annapolis and then fail life. Fourth grade Annika learned stress. Lesson: don’t procrastinate. If you do, you deserve stress.

I’m going to lump fifth and sixth grade together. There’s so many lessons I could focus on. There’s also an abundance of funny stories. One of my favorite stories is from fifth grade. It was a Wednesday, and the fifth grade class was on our way to chapel, right after we finished our standard bathroom break. The majority of us were still in the classroom, and suddenly we heard a huge crash come from the boy’s restroom! I think the building actually shook. Minutes later, we found out that the fifth grade boys had plunged the mirror off the wall. Apparently, they had liked the sound the plunger made when it popped off the wall and they decided to try it with the mirror. I think it’s safe to say that it didn’t go as planned; especially when the mirror shattered as it came off off the wall. Another story for the books is that one ACA choir concert where I got sick and…well… you know how it goes. Pro tip: if you want to hear some hilarious memories, talk to me, Megan, or Travis and mention sixth grade. Lesson: sometimes, the weirdest of times can be the best of times, without even realizing it.

Seventh and Eighth grade were again weird, but good years. These were the years where we all went through phases; each different, all annoying. Looking back now, I have so much respect for the teachers that dealt with seventh-and-eighth grade Annika.

I remember the day before freshman year, thinking about how I would never be a senior. It sounded so old. I literally couldn’t comprehend that four years would go by quicker than I could ever realize. Now, as I’m writing this as a senior, I know a bit more on how time flies. And I’m not exactly sure where it all went. It got lost in the laughs and the smiles and the tears and the drama and the apologies and the A papers and the F math tests and that one time I was on the track team. High school taught me the value of my teachers. Mrs. Belcher, thank you for letting us call you “Mom” and for never giving up on us, even after we’ve drowned in calculus and the wreckage is less than salvageable. Mr. Ross, you’ve always treated us like adults; thank you for giving us the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Mrs. Henderson, I don’t think the Spanish III class can even tell you how much you mean to us. All of the conversations about life we’ve had after getting sidetracked for prayer requests are priceless. Thank you for understanding and empathizing with us; more importantly, thank you for praying for us. Mrs. Lyons, thanks for taking a bunch of us to Europe and for being our hummingbird teacher (energetic, enthusiastic, and positive). Mrs. Wood, you brighten our day. Thank you for inviting us into your home to watch “weather” movies and for loving us. Mr. Smith, some of the seniors’ best memories are with you. Your class is pants. Thank you for reminding us at the end of every class that you love us. Miss Lyons, I don’t even know where to start. You’ve reminded us of biblical truths in times of trouble, you’ve listened, you’ve talked, you’ve helped, you’ve understood, and you’ve been there. You are so important.

Through it all, I’ve grown a lot. There are two people in particular I feel like that I should mention. Megan and Travis: it’s been twelve years. Thanks for growing up with me.

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