Enjoying the firsts and treasuring the lasts


Senior Aly Johnston smiles on her doorstep before her first day of kindergarten. Photo credit Aly Johnston.

When you’re in the thick of it, high school seems like it’s going to drag on forever. Recently, though, I’ve learned that the end comes up quickly.

Today, I enjoyed my last “first day” of public school. As I begin my senior year, the end is finally in sight.

When I woke up this morning, it hit me that this was the last time I would wake up to my mom wishing me a great first day. Hopefully, she’ll do the same at college, but I’d be alright with just a text.

I also understood that this would be the last time I would be greeted by my group of friends. Next year, I’ll be in a new place with new faces; alone.

As a senior, I’m beginning to apply for college, I’m looking at schools, and I’m stressed realizing that this next step isn’t too far away.

Since preparing for college has seemed to consume my thoughts for the past few months, I’m trying to break that habit. Don’t get me wrong – I still want to be ready – but I don’t want it to be my whole senior year.

I was thinking back this morning to my very first day of school. On that first day of kindergarten, I was so ready to make new memories and go through the school system. 

And, if you’ve read any of my other columns, you could probably guess that I was also a little nervous. Change isn’t something that has ever come easily.

The biggest difference between today and that day 12 years ago, though, was my sense of blind excitement. At 5 years old, I was ready to take on the world – independent and eager. 

This morning, I dreaded facing each first day task, knowing that it would likely be the last time I would complete it before I graduate.

After the school day ended, I reflected – did I stop to enjoy what I was doing? Did I take in these moments that are dwindling in frequency?

Or did I just try to make it through the day, shifting my attention to the next thing on my to-do list before the last one was even done?

Although my first day of school was over a decade ago, I’m hoping to channel the same energy I had that day into the rest of my senior year.

More eagerness, less worry, and no more looking back.

This is hardly the end of the “lasts”. I’ve still got my last school dance, last football game, last assembly, and last day of school. 

So as the rest of the year goes on, I’ll be thinking back to the first day of kindergarten and reminding myself of one thing: the best is yet to come.


Senior Aly Johnston smiles on her doorstep before her first day of kindergarten. Photo credit Aly Johnston.
Senior Aly Johnston poses in front of her house. Photo credit Aly Johnston.