Letter from the Editor: A final thank you


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

Mementos from my time at Archer, including the wreath I wore to weave the Maypole, a rock I painted on my first Fall Outing, my sixth grade OneCard and a photo of my friends on our last day of in-person classes.

When I joined the Oracle in ninth grade, I knew I was in for the long haul. I always pictured what it would be like to write my final piece. I would compose it in the short stretch of time between prom dress shopping and the fountain jump, and I would express how surreal it was to finally be experiencing the traditions I’d watched six classes before me experience.

“You’ll be here before you know it,” I’d advise younger students.

Those words are not my own — they’re taken from my very first Senior Recognition ceremony at Archer. In the cool shade under the white tent on the Sport Court, it hit my 11-year-old self for the first time that, one day, I would be sitting up on stage, preparing to leave Archer. This was not a particularly inspired revelation — everyone was saying that the time would pass in the blink of an eye. Ms. Coyne-Donnel said it. The student speaker said it. And at the end of the ceremony, when I hugged a senior friend, she told me, “You’ll be here before you know it.”

With each year that passed, I repeated her words to myself, and my impending departure from Archer felt more and more real. Four years until that’s me. Three. Two. One.

And now, here I am. There are no years separating me from graduation anymore, not even months. Just two weeks, and then…and then what?

Because I won’t be there — sitting onstage at the senior recognition ceremony, jumping in the fountain on my last day of classes, walking across a graduation stage in front of my family — before I know it. None of my classmates will. Instead, we’ll be sitting on our beds or at our kitchen tables, watching the final moments of our time at Archer dissolve in a flurry of pixels.

Throughout this spring — this terrifying, disappointing spring — I’ve clung to Archer with all the strength I have. When Ms. English first announced the transition to remote learning, I told myself that this couldn’t be the end. Even if large events like prom couldn’t happen, there would still be crossword puzzles with friends in the library courtyard, coffee from Belwood, fifth-period councils in AP Lit and the cheerful “dings” of the bell in journalism. I would still sit in classes with friends who have become family. As COVID-19 grew increasingly disruptive, I grasped at straws with increasing desperation. Maybe senior week could happen, even if the whole school couldn’t be there. Okay, forget senior week — but we could still graduate at the Skirball, right?

These attempts to bargain with the universe were about much more than a prom, a jump into a fountain and a walk across a stage in a long white dress. When I strip down the layers of tradition and expectation, the truth is simple: my identity is so wrapped up in this school that I don’t know who I’ll be without it. In my seven years at Archer, I have changed from a shy, insecure kid who didn’t want to leave her parents for a night on Fall Outing to a girl who goes on backpacking trips and applies to colleges on the other side of the country. I learned that I love writing and music and dancing in the sprinklers in the courtyard. I became a version of myself I never knew existed, all because of the lessons I learned in the classrooms, hallways, courtyards and buses of this school.

To any younger students reading this piece, I can’t tell you that you’ll be here before you know it. I hope you won’t be. But what I can tell you is that Archer is so, so special. Yes, there will be late nights studying for calculus tests and fallouts with friends and tears and loneliness and stress. But there will also be the joy of laughter in advisory, the electrifying energy of the crowd at the Spirit Week dances and the quiet contentment of petting a teacher’s dog. There will be discussions that change your mind or touch your heart. There will be teachers who devote themselves to your learning and well-being. And there will be your classmates, cheering you on when you succeed and picking you up when you fall down.

There’s so much more I want to experience here, but there’s only time left for a final thank you. So thank you, Archer, for seven chaotic, beautiful years. It’s more painful to say au revoir than my sixth-grade or even my junior self could have imagined, but at least I’m not saying goodbye. Goodbye would be impossible because Archer is a part of me now.