The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Looking back on my American high school experience


I have to say that the past four years have been a real roller coaster ride. As clichéd as it sounds, it definitely had its ups and downs.

I cannot even imagine how quickly time has passed. I still remember being “that new kid” like it was just yesterday, and now there’s only a few days left of high school where I am going to see my fellow classmates.

I can’t believe that I am not going to be able to perform in assemblies and do the Supersonic and Ice Cream and Cake ever again. No more Homecomings, dress-up days, or late Hawkeye nights. As much as I wish time would slow down, I have to move on and be ready for what the future has in store for me.

I must say, things really do change over the years. This time four years ago, I moved to the United States from the Philippines. Having to adapt to a new culture while still trying to learn the language was probably the most difficult experience in my life.

On the first day of high school, I had no idea who anyone was. I still remember when people asked me where I went to middle school or where I came from. It’s funny because they were always so shocked when I said I just moved here, because I didn’t have that typical “fresh off the boat” accent. That’s when I got the expectation that I was smart, when really I was barely even making it.

I remember my first time dancing in front of the school at the Homecoming assembly freshman year. As I busted out my moves when it was my turn freestyling, I didn’t care what people thought. Then as the crowd cheered even louder, it was like I didn’t even want to stop. After that, people started recognizing me. Going to class, I was overwhelmed by all the positive comments I got, while I smiled from ear to ear. I basically spent my freshman year being that quiet dude in class and the life of the assemblies.

In sophomore year, I decided I want to be more involved. Moving from ELL to AP classes was very challenging. It came to the point where I overwhelmed myself with too many advanced classes and different clubs. It was difficult because I had to figure it out all by myself. I didn’t have anyone to guide me who knew what they were doing. I just wanted to be involved and be a part of the school, not even considering what it meant for college applications and resumes. I just wanted to feel that being a part of something special makes you special.

That same year was probably when I had most of my downs. It’s when I really found out who I really was, and that being who I am was not something I chose to be, but something that I was born as and will always be. It felt like it was okay to be someone society says “you are not supposed to be.” Moving here opened my eyes to how all of us are different, and that we all have stories and unique backgrounds. It made me feel confident about myself. Coming out of the closet is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes it’s still a topic I’m not very comfortable talking about, but I know that this is who I am. It really made me a stronger person.

Junior year was more about the ups. It’s when I really started sorting out what I wanted to do. I gained a lot more friends. I started having leadership roles. I achieved things I never thought I was going to. I became more independent. I built stronger relationships with people. It’s when I began to feel like I do belong.

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By the middle of junior year and throughout senior year is when I felt like I got the gist of what high school was really all about. Although I wish high school could be more about how it is portrayed in media and a bit more musical, it’s definitely full of unnecessary drama. From backstabbing to complicated relationships, to family conflicts and fake friendships, and when worse comes to worst, that’s when you really know who would still stick around.

It’s when I saw how fake people can be. It’s hard to understand how someone can hate another person so much, but still continue to be “friends” with them.

It’s also when I saw how much people complain about everything. I get it, we all want something we don’t have. But complaining about something given to you, and not doing anything to change it. That’s when I don’t get it.

In all seriousness, high school is all about expectations. It is when you are expected to act like an adult, but you are treated like a kid. Expectations from your parents, teachers, peers, society, and even yourself. We are bombarded with all these ideas comparing ourselves to others.

But for me, I took it all as a challenge. All the hardships I went through in life are what made me who I am today. I had little regrets and complaints, but I am thankful for what life has given me.

Another big challenge I had to go through was financial stability. I have moved residences five times for the four years I have been here. I guess I just got used to it now having to adapt to a new environment every time.

Going to a university was something I did not even seriously consider until the beginning of my senior year. It was never a conversation with my family, as I decided I wanted to do it on my own. My whole high school career, I challenged myself and made myself involved for the sake of being involved. When the time came for college applications, I was stunned with how much I did, and most of the time I don’t even know how and why. I am so grateful, and I do not regret a single moment being a part of the school and the community.

Finally, I thank all my friends and everyone who has helped me get through it all. MTHS will forever be a part of me, and I am proud to be a Hawk.

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