The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

Senior Column: Lauryn Chao


I proudly have zero regrets about my time at Arcadia High School (AHS), but to say I did not have any moments worthy of regret would be untrue. I’ve earned a few failing grades, had my fair share of “embarrassing” moments, and clung to unhealthy friendships, but I’m happy with who I am today, and I’m a product of my past. 

A few failing grades: Despite Arcadia standards, I didn’t stack my schedule with AP classes or sign up for classes I had no interest in. Instead, I sought out things that inspired me because, despite what we are told, the richness of our education does not lie solely in our class schedule. I joined AUSD’s Digital Communications Internship (DCI) during my sophomore year, and working with public relations pros has given me more clarity about my career aspirations than any AHS class ever has. Serving as Quill’s Media and Publicity Editor has been a masterclass in advertising, leadership, and deadlines. Being the Vice President of the Fiber Arts Club has allowed me to share my passions with my peers and taught me that creativity can produce productivity. I have no regrets about my academic lows because bad grades are no indication of how much I’ve learned. 

Embarrassment is a choice: Before my senior year, I was restrained: I never laughed too loud in the hallways, never unabashedly cheered from the stands at football games, and stuck with what I knew. When my senior year began, I found freedom in the fact that I would be graduating in a few short months, and the grasp that external opinions had on me started to loosen. I began speaking to classmates I never conversed with before and stopped interacting with people who reveled in drama. I wholeheartedly participated in Spirit Weeks, filmed cringeworthy TikToks with friends, and asked my teachers so-called “stupid” questions. I have no regrets about potentially embarrassing myself because keeling over with laughter in jam-packed hallways, dancing in the senior flash mob, and putting myself out there by speaking to new classmates have made my senior year fruitful and free. 

Failed friendships: As a freshman, I wanted to be part of an ever-perfect, always-smiling, evergreen friend group. I believed a large group of friends would bring me the fun and excitement I craved, which sometimes resulted in me hanging on to destructive friendships. Now, as a senior, my small but mighty circle of friends has brought me things that surpass temporary exhilaration. Madison and I share daily conversations in A213 about everything under the sun, and she motivates me to live happier and healthier. Jenyne’s quiet understanding and ability to relate to me always wash away any feeling that I am alone. Gleaming memories of walking to 85 Degrees Bakery with Hailie and indulging in trashy reality T.V. together eclipse memories of a dark sophomore year. My friends bring me happiness, stability, and laughter. The three word phrase reigns true: quality over quantity. I’m not regretful of any friendship mishaps, because the friendships I’ve let go of have made me grateful for the good ones. 

I feel ready to graduate, but simultaneously yearn to step back into the past four years and relive it all. “The Privilege of Thinking” by Stacy Szymaszek, a poem introduced to me by Mr. Woodin, describes precisely how I feel.

“when I spent most of my time surviving a city

time passed slowly and I felt

a little immortal

you can’t imagine an end to vigilance

or moving from one miasma to the next

in the desert I just sit and think and in thinking

and using the sky to know time I am mortal”

High school as a whole has felt like an immortal experience–never ending and all-consuming. However, the reality of graduating is beginning to settle, and I realize that even high school must come to an end–regardless how treacherous these four years may have felt. Days at AHS passed slowly, and I would constantly wish for the day to end sooner. I took my time for granted, never comprehending that every lunchtime adventure, Homecoming dance, or late-night study session would calcify into a memory the second it ended. I feel a responsibility to soak up my last two weeks of high school as if constantly reminding myself to remember and taking mental pictures will make the minutes longer. My futile attempts to postpone the end of high school aren’t a result of my attachment to Arcadia or a love for high school life. They are a result of the uncertainty that marks graduating from high school. To me, AHS represents familiarity, routine, and comfort, while graduation entails independence, the unknown, and breaking the mold. 

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