My Four Years

Mike McGarrigle

When I arrived at Shawnee for my freshman year, I was incredibly young and incredibly nervous. I was excited to branch out, however, there were so many new things to get used to. New people, new schedule, new classes, new teachers, and biggest of all a whole new start. I knew that I could pursue so many different things here. In a matter of time, I had made a ton of new friends and already had an idea of what I’d love to do in my future. Now you might be thinking, that’s a fast turnaround. Just freshman year and you had so much figured out! And while I did have a good understanding of what I planned to do, the next several years I got to realize WHO I planned to be, and I think, though it’s one of the most difficult things to do, Shawnee High School is an excellent place to do it.


In freshman year I took a range of elective classes. When first going to Shawnee to get a taste of the classes, I just listed several that I thought would interest me. I remember wanting to be involved in Drafting 1, Woodshop 1, and a number of clubs. On top of all the academic opportunities, Shawnee found it important to push branching out socially as well. I think the transition from eighth grade to freshman year is the most important transition I’ve experienced up until now, and I feel that Shawnee made huge efforts to make sure the transition was comfortable for all students.


As for sophomore year, I think mine was similar to most other students. Covid, online classes, hybrid learning, etc. It was a nightmare and a dream come true. No 15-minute drive to school, instead just a 3-second walk to a desk. However, in a year with online connectivity, there was much less connectivity overall. Shawnee however, did their best to make sure a somewhat normal feeling remained. Classroom meets were done as a whole class, split up into smaller groups to simulate group work, and overall I felt they worked hard to keep the energy and spirit of the school intact.


Junior year was a relative return to form. We began with masks and they were slowly phased out as the year continued. In-school classes resumed every day, and lunches and gym classes returned as well. It felt like a return to form, and the weight of Covid had more or less disappeared. While Junior year is definitely the year that is most normal, not many big events for just the junior class, it’s not without plenty of enjoyable qualities. Truthfully it’s a very normal year of high school, which I think my 2023 class greatly appreciated considering our past two years. Classes and school days were normal and continued to flow, and I think as a whole we were just happy to be back. I had a lot of personal changes throughout this year, and from what I’ve spoken about with some people so did many others. Coming out of quarantine, we all wanted to know what we wanted to do, and what was coming next.


Senior year was a major year of change, and I do not think I’m alone in saying that. The conversations I’ve had with all of my closest friends have been about the changes they’ve been through this year in particular. I think for a very long time I believed that when you turn 18, a switch flips. You become an adult. All this information is poured into your head about life and the “real world” as soon as the 1-7 becomes a 1-8. However, that’s not true. Because what I didn’t realize was that my whole past 4 years had been a slow build to adulthood. When talking about the slow growth of maturity throughout high school, I think I should mention how much Shawnee does for this as well. With so many out-of-school activities, football games, club meetings, and other things, they give you so many social opportunities. I think senior year stands out in that way, between the trip to Disney World, Prom, and other events, it’s a terrific way to bring the whole class together, after being together for 4 years.


Overall, I enjoyed my time at Shawnee more than I can describe. Though most of my article has been cataloging my time here and the various events, there’s a very emotional point that I’d like to make as well. The people in this school, teachers, students, and staff of any kind have been excellent. I’ve made and grown bonds here that I intend to keep for the rest of my life, and I’d like to thank my friends and teachers for making this an incredible four years that I will never forget.


Thank you.

Mike McGarrigle

class of 2023