By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator

As seniors from Catholic high schools throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge clean out backpacks, donate used uniforms and hang up their caps and gowns from graduation, many can finally take the time to sit back and reflect on their high school days and lessons learned along the way.

“Make freshman year count,” said Clay LeBlanc, a graduate of St. John the Evangelist High School in Plaquemine. “Freshman year is very important when it comes to grades so study hard. If you start off well the first year, you’ll be set for the next year.”

“I would tell incoming freshmen that freshman year matters, even though you don’t think it does in the end with your GPA (grade point average),” agreed classmate Madison Nicolosi. “It’s your whole first experience in high school. It matters, and you need to start working hard that year.”

“Incoming freshmen should be open minded about high school,” advised Ella Barhorst, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge. “I wish I would have started making new friends and broadened my horizons with clubs and involvement at school starting freshman year.”

Besides all of the hard work in the classroom, seniors spent their last year enjoying the fruits of their labor with a schedule packed with activities including school dances, special homecoming events and graduation parties. Fitting it all in, along with studies and applications for college and scholarships, can prove to be a true balancing act.

“The biggest thing I learned is time management between school work and friends,” said Nicolosi.

“With so many activities and assessments to prepare for I really had to learn how to prioritize my time,” said Derquisia Spears, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy. “Time is everyone’s greatest asset. No matter who you are or where you come from, we all have the same amount of time each day to do incredible things together for the glory of God.”

Faith also guided the high school career of Haley Bouchereau, a graduate of Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville.

“Throughout the last four years, there were many ups and downs and many challenges that I had to face, but the main lesson that I learned is no matter what we face, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we can do anything,” said Bouchereau.

“The main lesson that I learned from my high school years is that this time in life is when you really get to learn about yourself and what it’s like to be more independent than ever before,” said fellow Ascension Catholic graduate Madison Zeringue. “I felt like I was really finding myself through every experience that I had and it pushed me to become the best version of myself possible.”

For the Class of 2020, the Class of 2019 said, “Don’t rush it.”

“Seniors, you’re going to have many ‘lasts’ this year and they will all be bittersweet,” said Bouchereau. “Enjoy those moments because they go by so quickly.”

“Incoming seniors, the year goes by quickly,” said Barhorst. “The fun never stops and before you know it, you will be saying goodbye to everything you have known for four years. Be as involved as possible, you won’t regret it.”

“Don’t try to rush senior year,” said Nicolosi. “Everybody’s all ready to graduate and stuff but I regret trying to get through it so quickly. I think I missed out trying to rush through the year.”

“Focus on school because it is an important year but make sure you are in the moment at all times and don’t rush it because it goes by quick enough,” said LeBlanc. “I’m ready to start four more years of high school. I’d go back in a heartbeat! I loved it!”

And finally, this note from Spears:

“Rising seniors, congratulations for the many accomplishments you have made already. The last year of high school is a beautiful time to continue discovering yourself and the person you aspire to become. As always, stay persistent in your studies and encourage each other during your last year together. Senior year will be over before you know it, so make your time meaningful!”