A Letter to GV


Dear Golden Valley,
I had the unfortunate honor of being a senior at your establishment this year. Unfortunate only in the fact that our time together was cut short.
I didn’t always appreciate you. In fact, you have caused me a fair amount of grief over the past four years. I will admit that part of that was my own fault, what with taking a nearly unmanageable amount of AP classes. As a whole, you have been faithful to the very end. You have allowed me to make memories that I will always cherish, meet people that I will always remember (be that fondly or not so fondly), and learn things that I will take with me the rest of my life.
I must admit. I wish that I could have had a Prom or a Grad Night or a Graduation. I’ll always wonder “what if?” See, I was never a particularly outgoing individual. I would rather stay home than go out on a Friday night or to a dance, which is ironic considering our current predicament. I promised myself that during my senior year I would see how the “other half” lived out their high school careers. Somethings I did get to live out.
I went to my first homecoming! Movies did not prepare me for the reality of a ferris wheel making an appearance at the Homecoming Dance. I got to have a super fun night with my friends where we got to listen to terrible karaoke, ride a ferris wheel, and scream-sing Bohemian Rhapsody as the final song of the night.
I was also able to go to my first Winter Formal. Looking back at high school, I think that that night is one that I will probably remember the most. I never thought I would be the one to dance for most of the night with my friends, but I did. I have the photobooth pictures of my beet red face to prove it. I will never get to go to prom, but I am grateful that I was able to have one formal dance in high school.
These past four years have been a whirlwind of strange and wonderful. To be completely honest, freshman year is a blur. I can remember what teachers I had and not much else (Werts, Perez-St. Antoine, Heath, Whalen, Halliday, and Day/Barrientos). I also remember a very popular senior named Faithy J. I never met her, but she made an impression as she promoted her book about how to find success on the first day of school.
Sophomore year is a bit more clear. I got to have one of my favorite teachers (shout out to Mr. Williamson) and one of my more interesting teachers. I’ve got to say, I had never had a teacher completely give up before that year. It was an experience, let me tell you. I also remember when the hill across from GV caught on fire and the entire student body was told not to worry about it because “It’s across the street and the wind is facing the other direction.” I understand not wanting to cause mass hysteria, but at the same time, wind has the ability to change direction.
I was not a fan of junior year. It stressed me out like no other year. Taking AP Seminar alone took about 10 years off my life (see the aforementioned comment about me not being outgoing). I struggled through three AP classes and taking the SAT for the first (and last) time. The shining light in the darkness had to be GVTV’s attempt at a late night show called “Back To One.” The song “We Love GV” nearly made the year worth it all on its own. As a whole, I was not sad to see it pass me by.
Surpassing them all in sheer “What?” factor had to be senior year. It didn’t start out bad. It actually started out pretty good. I had found ways to cope with my struggles from the previous year and got to take some pretty fantastic classes. AP Lit was fun because reading. AP Calc wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Journalism was a dream come true. Gov was….something. And Econ with Mr. Stimac was hilarious.
To be fair, we should have been able to tell this year would be interesting by the number of earthquakes over the summer alone. Earthquakes, fires, power outages, and disappearing teachers. Truly the mark of a fantastic year.
And then came Saugus. I hate to say it, but when someone said there was a shooting at Saugus, I didn’t think much of it at first. I had myself convinced that it was merely a threat and that everyone was okay. I couldn’t imagine that at the end of the day 3 people would be dead with another injured. It took a bit to feel some semblance of normal again. I’m proud that through the tragedy our community rose to support each other as we healed.
Through all the less than spectacular moments, I was able to have some fun. My friends and I went to watch Frozen 2 on opening day. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. Over winter break, a few of my friends and I had a baking day. We did our best to make cupcakes and macarons. We even made Tik Toks about how the macarons turned out. Not well, if you were interested.
The first few months of the new year followed the pattern of years past. Random fads and memes. Until March. The month that lasted a decade. Once again, everything was going well until it wasn’t. Covid-19 wasn’t an issue until about halfway through the month. Practically overnight people began panicking. We were told we would do school from home for a month. Okay. A month. Not that big of a deal in the long run. There was still time. Two weeks later, that month turned into two. A week after that, it turned into the rest of the year.
Now I sit here. Stuck in my house. No Prom. No Grad Night. No Graduation. Exactly what I had planned. Not! The old Yiddish proverb that says “We plan, God laughs,” it smarts a little bit more than it has in times past. I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. Really disappointed. I wouldn’t have minded being able to get dressed up to party with my friends again. Or spending the better part of a night at Universal. Or walking across a stage to get a piece of paper. Especially that last one. But everything will work out, I hope.
So while I attempt to hold back tears and mourn for the things that I have lost, I will also remain grateful for what I did have. I didn’t have the Big Three of senior year, but I did have my memories with friends and teachers. I had all the things I had spent 13 years learning. I had my ticket to college. Most importantly, I have hope that something wonderful will come out of this.
Thank you, Golden Valley. For being my home away from home for the past four years. For teaching me more about the world and myself. For being there. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
With Warm Regard,
Kaylee Toma, A Golden Valley Senior