Open Letter Submission
To the UCVTS underclassmen,
I’m sorry, really, that I’ve found myself writing this letter in these circumstances. In all honesty, I must also recognize that I’m writing to you for almost selfish reasons― to reminisce vaguely in your general direction as a senior who must now come to terms with leaving; to share fond memories of how things were before March, to think about what my senior year should have been like this September; to write for no other particular reason than that I like the sound of my own voice. Who knows? What is certain is that you have not gotten the same introduction to this school as I did, and in place of the numerous tours and information sessions you would usually receive from me and my peers, Memory Lane is, unfortunately, the next best thing.
As a freshman, to me UCVTS started out as an achievement above all else. Being accepted was a trophy, which awarded my ability to test well and maintain grades in middle school. As a senior, I can tell you that this competitive pride quickly fades. UCVTS at its core is a challenge and an experience, day in and day out, for which being accepted at the end of eighth grade is square zero. The sooner you understand and embrace the idea that high school is an action, the more you will benefit from what experiences it has to offer― “you get out what you put in.”
I also very quickly realized UCVTS has its own distinct culture that I have come to miss in isolation. The community spirit and sense of identity, truly, are what define this school far more than its academic standings. To see students of such distinct backgrounds across Union County collaborating through their coursework and forming their own little networks and communities on campus, it’s a beautiful thing. Even our school-wide events, which were at times groanably cheesy, were some of my best memories with friends before… well, you know.
In truth, I missed Harvest Fest this year, and the information session that would have come before it. I missed yelling my lungs out at passersby to buy our bagged Franken-tacos and consuming ungodly amounts of pizza from four different tables. I miss the dances with spontaneous Macarena circles and music with ineffective censorship. I miss ditching one of said dances with some of my best friends to go to an escape room and get ice cream in formalwear. I miss climbing and pool noodle-related shenanigans during Project Adventure, and roaming the halls visiting teachers during co-curricular. I miss Relay, where I bonded with chaperones over Rush albums while wearing an ugly sleeping bag, and playing cards with friends after finals.
I would have never thought about it at the time, but these are the memories from UCVTS that you come to cherish, and the people around you become the friends that you cherish them with. Because ultimately, the spirit of UCVTS is one of community and unrelenting perseverance. Between various rounds of testing, AP courses, college applications, personal and extracurricular challenges, political tension and division, literal floods, and now a plague of Biblical proportions, high school has been the most challenging period of my life. And though I’m almost positive things could have been easier in my home district, I wouldn’t trade this― because it was with the help of my friends, teachers, and the UCVTS community around me that I have grown through and faced these challenges. So I implore you, dear underclassmen, to make the most of the time you have here before it speeds by and becomes more memories you miss, and hold on for dear life.