School doesn’t dictate friends

Photo+by+Kristine+Cho

Photo by Kristine Cho

Ann Fitzmaurice

In elementary and middle school, students are restricted to classes with people of their age. Kindergarteners don’t usually mingle with fifth graders and third graders create their friend groups depending on who is in their class. My sophomore year abolished all of these preconceived ideas of age segregation.
I never expected to become friends with someone two grade levels above my own, and I never expected the rides I got from place to place would shift from my parents to my older best friends since I didn’t have a license. The confidence I had going into a new year of high school didn’t come from the lessons I learned from freshman year under my belt, but from the encouragement my upperclassmen friends gave me.
Upperclassmen friends are necessary for a fulfilling high school career. Their past years of high school experience make them the perfect therapists, stress relievers and motivators. Older friends understand the struggles of those younger than them more than any teacher or parent could. They know what goes on in difficult classes and friendships alike.
In one of my classes specifically, I would have broken down from the stress if one of my senior friends, Ben, hadn’t given me advice from his time in Advanced Placement (AP) World History. He showed me that although it feels like it at the time, a bad grade in a hard class won’t ruin my life. Because of my friendship with Ben, I realized that if he can make it through such a difficult class, so can I.
In fact, because of these encouragements, I pursued what interested me and felt comfortable doing what I love. Having a friend in band allowed for my extroverted personality to come out because I knew someone would make my introduction easy.
Without older friends, I would have never felt comfortable in a circle of new people because I wouldn’t have anyone to support me. I wouldn’t have gotten to know the sea of people I have now grown to love and I wouldn’t have the security and happiness I do now.
With older friends, however, comes the impending doom of graduation. I had 185 days, give or take a few, with some of my best friends before they went to college never to be seen again, or seen severely less than before. Their promises of “We’ll see each other on the weekend” fell silent to my pessimistic ears. I believed making friends with seniors was pointless; they were leaving after one school year together. I convinced myself the pain I’d feel when they graduated would outweigh the potential good times we shared. My beliefs, however, were 100 percent wrong.
The graduation of my senior friends falls under the age-old question of “is it better to have loved and lost than not loved at all?” In my case, yes. The countless nights my older friends and I have sat around eating burgers or stayed up until five in the morning playing video games make me feel happy enough that graduation is negligible. These memories exceed the sadness I will feel when my best friends move on to their futures. In fact, graduation last year was spent with a friend that will now be walking across the stage in a cap and gown.
Nonetheless, my upperclassmen friends taught me skills I won’t forget. One taught me how to fill my tires with air, and the other taught me how to catch a train in Grand Theft Auto. Their advice, wisdom and includance in my life kept me moving then, and will continue to do so even after they graduate. School doesn’t dictate our relationships and being in the same school doesn’t facilitate it. When my older friends are no longer on the RBHS attendance list, I’ll still see them on the weekends.