Josie Halporn’s Senior Reflection 2021

The Calculus of Leaving


On the Friday before my AP Calculus exam, I broke down into tears. It wasn’t because I simply could not imagine integrating the area between another set of polar curves. It wasn’t because I had the whole weekend in front of me and dreaded the idea of spending it with my graphing calculator. 

No, it was because I realized that these three hours and fifteen minutes of filling in bubbles  would be my last math test of high school. My mom laughed at me when I confessed the reason for my sadness. How nerdy and pathetic I must have seemed to her!

I’ve since realized that it’s not the tests themselves I was mourning that night; no part of me will miss ten-part geometry proofs or nearly impossible calculus questions. Instead, I was crying for all the times that I congregated with classmates after a particularly difficult assessment and commiserated over that brutal final problem. For the spirited 11:00pm Skype calls with Dr. Pegram’s Block 3 class, the Peet’s Coffee study sessions that were supposedly about U.S. History but were really about chit-chat over chai lattes, the hours of giggling over Facetime with mis compañeras de español. For the rowdy games of Egyptian Ratscrew at Girls Who Code, the heated debates over whose Forum work weekend playlist was superior, and the sweet, sweet harmonies of a Musigals rehearsal in the choir room. In all these snapshots, we cared about our work, but we cared about the company more. 

When I look back on my high school experience, I see a highlight reel. Sure, there were a lot of very complex variables, and equations that took me a long time to figure out how to balance, and I still haven’t quite reached my quod erat demonstratum moment. But already I can feel the negative moments slowly fading from my memory. I only have enough room up there for the joyful sight of a teacher’s smile through the screen on Google Meet, the pure sound of friends’ laughter around a table in the library, the underrated warm feeling of greeting an acquaintance passing in the BC Connector. Ultimately, the highlight of my L-S experience has been the connection and camaraderie that I found through my four years here.

After she finished laughing at me, my mom pointed out that this was one of the first times I had cried all senior year. It’s hard to believe that I was able to maintain dry eyes through the college process, Newton’s laws of motion, and, oh right, a global pandemic. I think that many of us feel that COVID-19 has gradually made us numb to emotions; now that we’re almost out of the woods, I have a lot of crying to catch up on. The rest of my life will be full of negative slopes and inflection points and tests of all kinds, but for right now, I’m going to encourage myself to feel all of the happiness and grief of filling in this final bubble.