My Past Four Years


Jenna Williams, Staff Writer

Starting off in Freshman year, I didn’t have many friends. I ate lunch on one of the steps outside with my best friend Alyssa: someone who I didn’t know would be my best friend for the next four years as well. The change from middle school to high school was a lot for me and I was not prepared for how different it would be. I was a very shy kid before highschool and didn’t talk to many people. Joining the swim team is what helped me branch out and make many new friends. There, I became best friends with a girl named Hannah as well. I loved being a part of a team like swim and doing something I loved. Having barely done swim before, I was impressed with how much I picked up during my four years on the team. 

Sophomore year had a great beginning. I had tons of friends and started to become outgoing, as well as comfortable with myself, and happy with the life I had. I got a lot better at swim and got to go to districts this year. I was involved with school and loved spirit weeks, assemblies, homecoming, and all the fun things of high school. In January of Sophomore year, I went through a very hard time though. My mom who had cancer passed away. Although my family all knew it would happen eventually, as her cancer was terminal, you can never prepare yourself for the loss of someone that special. I switched into online school to finish off my school year, so I could work towards a good future for myself as I knew my mom would want. Just two months later though, the rise of COVID started, putting Thunderbird online as well as almost every other school. It was actually very relieving to me to have everyone online with me. I was finally able to feel normal again and not be the only one online, so no one wondered where I was anymore. My friends Alyssa and Marli, as well as their families, helped me through this very hard stage in my life. I am so thankful I had them to talk to and be with during this time. 

I spent summer grieving, recovering, and living life to the best I could. Then I was ready to take on Junior year. Although junior year was online, I got to start off the year off doing swim team in person. I swam with my friend Hannah and we became closer than I ever thought possible. She made me feel comfortable to tell her anything and we started hanging out a lot. I loved her energy and the light she brought into my life. She helped me heal a lot of my wounds and grow a great deal as a person. Junior year was my year to have fun. I let loose and started talking to a bunch of people. I branched out in life and did so much more than I ever thought I would. I also accomplished going to state for swim with my childhood best friend, Neely. Although I was only able to go because a teammate got COVID, I got offered the spot and I’m so glad I was.  It was an amazing experience and I was so proud of myself for pushing myself so much to be able to make it to that point. At the end of junior year, I was so happy that I finished off the year and was already excited for Senior year. 

Senior year was back in person. Although I really enjoyed online school, I was excited to see everyone again and make new friends. Swim team this year was a hard time for me. I dealt with a lot of sickness because I didn’t take care of myself. I had very bad mental health and missed a lot of school as well. Having to get back into the routine of going to school for six hours a day after being online for over a year was hard for me. I ended up missing a lot of the swim season as well as being absent from school a lot. The middle of the year was hard. I was trying to push myself to make it through the first semester with good grades. Luckily this is when things started to look up again. I got into NAU which is the college I’ve always wanted to go to and I met my now boyfriend and bestfriend, Jackson. I met him in December and we have been hanging out everyday since. It is really nice to have him in my life and have his family be so welcoming of me as well. I now have a second family and a lot more supporters and believers in me. I am excited to end this chapter of my life off with all my best friends and have my family be there to watch me as well. High school was a long and hard journey and I am so thankful I made it through.