Letting go of the bigger hand

By Ava Simunovic ’20


As incoming freshman, we are blind. We lack experience, expertise and understanding of Staples and the environment it fosters. We don’t understand that carrying binders from class to class is socially unacceptable, nor are we able to comprehend the confinements of the “freshman ghetto.” But on a greater scale, entering Staples means something much more drastic. Parties are held, “friend groups” unravel and teachers stop giving extra credit. For vulnerable and naive freshman, this academic upgrade can be somewhat difficult to navigate. But separate from most of my peers, my transition from the megar Bedford Middle School to the daunting Staples High School was different from most. While most students went in blind, I went in with one eye open.

My oldest brother paved my path for my sister upon entering high school and my sister paved mine. Taking those first steps into the depths of Staples High School’s hallways, I was accompanied by the hand of my older sister. As two years flew by, my sister is now a “second semester senior” at her internship. After her departure I increasingly find myself greatly missing her presence at school.

I have never been at high school without my sister. She has always been there; from the first day of my freshman year, to my first day of sophomore year. So April 30 –– the last day of senior year –– felt like the first day of high school to me.

In complete honesty, maybe I never fully appreciated her presence. I remember trying to avoid her in the hallways so that she couldn’t catch a glimpse of me wearing the shirt I stole from her room, or giving her the death stare because we had gotten in a fight the previous day.

But in the greater scheme of things, I reflect on my time at Staples and realize that my sister’s presence at school was imperative to well-being. She was a shoulder to cry on when I got my first C on a test, and my therapist when I found myself tangled in petty drama. She was there cheering me on in my first varsity soccer game, and comforting me when boys would be, well boys. So here I stand now, baffled, confused, at a loss for how to go about my normal routine without my sister by my side.

When she left, I started noticing the little things that I missed. I missed jumping on her back in the hallways, walking home with her from school and drives to Organika following last period. But as the separation become more apparent, I started to miss the more important things. I missed her infectious smile after a hard test and calming me down when I would have panic attacks about my final exams.

But I’m working on it. I’m figuring out how to deal with life on my own. I have taken Staples by its reigns and am fighting the stress and the drama by myself now. I have always considered myself independent, yet only when my sister left did I realize how I had depended on her.

High school can be impersonal; long narrow hallways filled with people that you don’t always know. My sister always made Staples feel special; her vibrant face brought me back to my home and my family. But now I realize that I have to let go of the bigger hand that I once held when I entered Staples and find my own voice in the school.