Living the high school senior's life

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I am about to embark on the wildest trip of my life. My name is Amber Karnes and I'm a senior at Notre Dame Regional High School. I am inviting you to follow along as I tell all of my experiences as a high school senior.

As I exited my junior year, I was so excited. There is just something exhilarating about knowing that you are almost done with your high school career. You are almost finished and ready to move out on your own. So as soon as I finished my last final exam and my junior year was officially over, I considered myself a senior. That's right -- a school-ruling, college-seeking, senior-trip-planning, wild, carefree senior.

Then the realization hit me: I was a senior. I had to get a job (since I was entering the adult world and needed to start paying for things on my own), I had to get into a college; which sounds simple enough but proves to be a big deal. And I had to start planning what I was going to be when I grow up and exactly how I was going to get there.

I began searching for that perfect college that offered all the right classes, had really nice, clean, big dorms, and was not too far away from home. You know --the location that's too far away for your parents to come check on you randomly, but not so far that a trip home is a big deal. I was thinking somewhere around St. Louis.

I am an athlete who plays volleyball, basketball and track. Athletics is a huge part of my life, so it's a given that I am going to have to play sports in college. So I began speaking with coaches and setting up team visits. The next big thing I encountered in my college search was, every paper that I filled out and every person I spoke with wanted to know what I was going to major in. Now it seems like every one of my friends knows what they want to be and has known this since they were in grade school. Not me. When I was little I wanted to be things that now don't even sound appealing to me. So I began searching. I was now searching for the perfect college, and the perfect career.

Now this may not seem like a big deal to you, but these decisions are the biggest ones I have ever made, and I find the unknown scary. I am scared to make this decision. My parents can't really help me, my teachers can't really help me, and my coaches can't really help me. This is an "Amber has to do it on her own" kind of thing. And I have been trying to decide for some time.

My parents and I had to send in the papers and we had to keep talking to people, so I picked mass communications as my so-called major because I needed an answer. I am not to sure if I am going to keep that, but for right now it will do just fine.

We applied for most of the NAIA and Division III schools in the St. Louis area and have heard back from several coaches concerning sports. Now we just have to play the waiting game and see which one will be able to offer the most financial aid. The coaches still have to come watch me in my senior season before any scholarships can be offered. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a good one will pop up.

Now that I've done all I can do regarding sports in college, it was time to focus on sports in high school. It was finally my time to shine as a senior. It was now my team; there was no longer any one above me. Me and my fellow senior athletes were the cream of the crop and we have high expectations for the upcoming season. As I entered the gym for the first day of tryouts I was extremely calm and ready for the whole process to be over. I was ready for practice to start so the season could begin. But my little sister, who is an incoming freshman, was not so calm. I remembered how nervous I was when I was first trying out, and I realized how far I had come in just a few short years.

Now that two Karnes girls were on the volleyball team, it was time to commemorate this occasion with a picture. I went to go get my senior pictures taken at Cheekwood Studios. This was an experience I will never forget.

There is just something about someone with a camera following you around taking pictures. It is a wonderful feeling. The only bad thing that happened was that the photographer wanted me to stand in the hay. They have this set of a barn and it's filled with hay. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a country girl at all, and I don't get in hay. But the guy insisted and took the picture anyway. My mom made me do it, saying that I might end up liking that picture. Now I am faced with the impossible task of sorting through all those pictures and narrowing it down to like 10. It could take days, and I'm not kidding.

The next fun and exciting senior thing I got to do was senior book day. I got to go in and get all my books for the school year. I picked up my schedule and got my ID photo taken. After this it had began to sink in that I was indeed a senior. As a freshman, sophomore and junior, there really isn't a whole lot of choice in subjects just because you have to take all of your required classes, but as a senior you get to pick a lot more electives since you have most of your credits already. I was so happy when I only got 4 text books and saw the word "study hall" on my schedule.

My senior year has not even started yet but already I have done so much to prepare for it. I have actually been preparing for it since kindergarten.

And now that I'm so close, I feel myself getting anxious. I don't want to have to go back to school because, quite frankly, I'm enjoying the almost stress-free and completely homework-free summer life I have right now. But I know that soon -- very soon -- my last year of high school is going to be arriving and I don't believe that it will be any different than the other 11 school years. It too will come and go in the blink of an eye. And before you know it, it will be over. So I'm going to try to savor every memory I have of my senior year. And I will try to share them with you.

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