16 vs. 18 which ones really sweeter?

Students' perspectives on turning 16 versus 18

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There are a lot of important milestones that happen in high school; watching your first football game, the first homecoming dance, getting through your first finals. Turning 16 is also a big deal for teenagers as getting your driver’s license is often the first real taste of freedom kids have. However, we can’t forget that there’s another big birthday that happens to high school students–often before graduation–turning 18!

With my 18th birthday coming up I thought it would be interesting to see what other students felt was a bigger deal? I know that for me turning 16 meant getting my license, my own car, a job, and a sense of freedom that I hadn’t had before. However, 16 may not be as big of a deal for some students.

I decided to ask some Wilsonville High School students which birthday they’re more excited about.

One student  I spoke with was senior, Alison Albellar, who says that she thought turning 16, and learning to drive, was exciting but claims that, “Turning 18 seems much more significant than turning 16 did.” She went on to talk about how much more independent you become around this age, citing college as a reason for that. Albellar, who turns 18 in April is planning on attending a concert with some friends for her birthday.  

Many students talk about the freedom that you get when you get your license but there’s something about being an adult that is exciting. One student, senior Josie Reho, who recently turned 18 has been enjoying being treated more “like an adult” at work. Reho went on to add that “there’s so much more freedom and I can express myself more.” Reho chose to do just that and celebrated her birthday by getting her first tattoo.

As I spoke to students it became clear that people were really looking forward to the freedom that comes with being an adult, but one student, senior Grace Yaso remembers the joy she felt turning 16, “You get that first taste of freedom.” Yaso continued by saying that she felt that taking that first solo drive is a right of passage: “It’s huge! And that just seems like a much bigger deal. I guess at 18 you can buy a lottery ticket but it’s not the same.”

For many students at Wilsonville voting is an important right that turning 18 affords you, and when the midterms elections were held in late 2018, I know many Wilsonville seniors who–for the first time–exercised their right to vote. Yaso was one of those students. “It was overwhelming but so cool, I always hear people say how important it is to vote, and to finally be able to do it was nice.”

Whether you’re turning 16 or 18, your birthday is always something to celebrate, so go out and redeem your free birthday rewards, eat some cake, and open your presents. At least, that’s what I plan on doing.