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Growing Pains

Monday, May 15, 2017

As the school year comes to an end, the PBA community says goodbye to the twenty-three students of the graduating class of 2017. At the same time, PBA welcomes the upcoming juniors and prepares them to take their rightful place as seniors.

It is no secret that the transition between junior and senior year is a tough one. The pressure of college, internships, and leadership roles combined with the fear of growing up is something almost unparalleled.

“It wasn’t difficult, but it was more scary because you’re realizing that this is your last year and there’s a lot of big decisions that need to be made,” said senior Reina Chinen.

Her sentiment is mirrored by junior Dillon Tsubota.

“I’m a little bit scared to become a senior because I know I’m going to have a lot of responsibilities, but I’ll be excited to graduate,” he said.

The juniors are right to be a little scared. The expectations of senior year are quite high and require a lot of time and responsibility.

The senior students start the school year with a rigorous environmental course with Mr. Velasco. They continue on with “Made in America/ Made in Hawaii” lead by Dr. Ben. Finally, they end to school year with more down to earth classes like “Life Skills” and “Coming of Age” with Mr. Otake.

The class of 2018 poses on a hike along with Mr. Takazono, Mr. Velasco, and alumnus
    Skyler Nishiyama's dog, Happy.

“I think the senior have two responsibilities: to the school and to themselves,” said junior Ryan Hashimoto. He also noted that seniors have to promise to the school, “Hey we’re ready, we’re going to do all this stuff, we’re going to make sure that everyone has fun at camp, and that the juniors have a learning experience.”

This is true -- the annual PBA camp serves as a trial for the seniors and a learning experience for the juniors. Without the careful planning of the seniors, the juniors would have no baseline for next year, making camp one of the integral responsibilities the seniors must face.

While camp is an important part of senior year, it does not encompass the full experience. Seniors have to plan things like teach-ins, Lighting Our Way, and senior banquet. Though there is an abundance of senior-planned events during the year, this does not mean that any of their other responsibilities, including the academic aspect, have been scaled back.

On top of this, seniors want to make their mark and leave the school in better shape than they found it. Most seniors try to leave their legacy in the form of a club. For example, the Global Issues Network (GIN), is comprised of mostly seniors, so this school year they tried their best to put systems in place that would not only last long after they left, but would also get the underclassmen involved to create a dialogue and hopefully gain some younger participants for the club. This same principle goes for the famous Buddhist Cooking Club, whose members include a majority of the senior class. If the seniors do not take the initiative to get the underclassmen involved then their clubs -- and all that they worked towards -- will graduate with them.

“I feel like I have the responsibility of preparing them to take over once we’re gone so that we can continue whatever we worked towards in our senior year and build PBA since it’s really about the students,” said salutatorian Shelby Taketa.

Though this sentiment rings true among all the seniors, and even some juniors, some of them take different approaches to showing the underclassmen the ropes.

“I treat all the underclassmen the same, I don’t treat them like kids,” said senior Liam Meyer. “I maybe feel the responsibility to show them (the juniors) what it’s like and how they might change.”

It is not untrue that these difficult transitions can cause character changes, especially in the small classes of PBA. The most unlikely people can step up and the usually reliable people can let others down. This is year is riddled with trials and tribulations and only time can tell its true effects.

So no matter if you’re a junior, excited despite being scared, or a senior, nostalgic but ready to move on, the truth is that there’s no easy way to leave high school or even prepare to do so. The four years you spend here at PBA are unique and saying farewell is not an easy task, but rather one that must be done. So say a heartfelt goodbye to the class of 2017 and openly embrace the class of 2018.