Senior year of high school is often a bittersweet experience — on one hand, kids are getting their first real taste of freedom and independence as they apply to colleges or branch out into the workforce, but on the other hand, seniors often face anxiety as they look to the great looming future and say goodbye to life as they know it.

As a senior myself, I have been conflicted between the two. I am ecstatic at the idea of finally leaving Maine and experiencing the world for myself, but I am absolutely terrified to move on from the familiarity of the school district I have been in since I was 5 years old. Growing up in Harpswell has shaped me into the person I am today and has always been my safe harbor in life.

When asked about his senior year, fellow Harpswell resident Harrison Whittaker responded, “It’s gone by quicker than I expected.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Adults always told us that our childhood would go by quickly and we never quite understood what they meant. However, here we are, on the brink of adulthood, and things seemed to have flown by faster than we knew possible — this year in particular.

When I asked Megan Reed, another senior at Mt. Ararat, how her year was going, she remarked on the improvements from last year, saying, “It was also really great to have some normalcy with Friday night football games, homecoming and just being able to go to school full time … I really look forward to finishing out this year strong.” Many of the seniors this year are grateful to simply be back in school with the entire student body.

Barrett Thiboutot, another senior at Mt. Ararat, says that she has been “super stressed about college,” but that the freedoms we have at school, such as leaving the school during study hall, have helped her “balance schoolwork and a healthy mindset.” Barrett stated, “It’s nice to take a moment and really use that time to focus on myself, and I hope that all other students will take a moment and really reflect on how they are, because we all owe it to ourselves to have some fun and enjoy what is left of our youth.”

Despite the stress that seniors face, that little taste of freedom makes things so much more bearable. Thiboutot referred to this year as “a rollercoaster,” but she, like many, has found that the little things in life make everything worth it.

Lucy Nelson is a Harpswell native and a senior at Mt. Ararat High School. She dances at Maine State Ballet and is involved in Student Senate and National Honor Society at Mt. Ararat.