It’s hard to imagine that the gray cinder block facade, the 20 different microclimates, the dysfunctional bathrooms could ever feel like home, but now as I stand at the precipice of graduation, leaving my Riverside community feels like leaving home.
I remember how overwhelmed I was, that first day of junior year – my first day at Riverside. The line of cars that stretched down Rose of Sharon and extended well onto Guess made me twenty minutes late to my first ever Riverside class, in a classroom I couldn’t find amidst the crowds of masked students. I can only characterize my first impression of Riverside as chaotic.
I’ll remember the franticness of Friday nights during football, when we would race home to dress ourselves in head to toe black, paint our face purple, or wrap ourselves with neon caution tape. We’d squeeze ourselves onto the bleachers, where we’d be screaming, packed shoulder to shoulder. I went to every single football game, but I maybe watched a total of 30 minutes of football. The real draw was the community.
I’ll remember the approximately 370 hours I have spent at lunch over the past two years. The one hour of freedom we get every afternoon is pure, unadulterated bliss. Every lunch, the minute the bell rings we pack into someone’s car and speed out of the Riverside parkinglot. I now know we can get to Chick-fil-A in exactly 8 minutes or Harris Teeter in five, but more importantly I know that no matter how bad my morning is, every afternoon at 12:15 exactly I’ll get to be surrounded by my favorite people.
Most importantly, I’ll always remember how Riverside gave me the best friends I could ever ask for, and without whom surviving highschool would be virtually impossible. All of my favorite moments I’ve had here have been with them, and my favorite part of every day is seeing them. The closer we get to graduation, the more I think about how grateful I am that I decided to go Riverside, and had the luck to meet my friends.
It’s no secret that our class is truly exceptional. We emerged from the pandemic with half of our high school experience robbed from us, but we made up for it senior year with vigor and enthusiasm. So much of what we have is student-run and student created, some of it with consistent support form administration, and some without.
That’s what’s special about Riverside. Soon my memories of this place will fade. But I will never forget the people I have spent every day with, and the community we have created.