Dear Class of ’24…

On August 21, 2017, the moon aligned perfectly between the Earth and the Sun, intersecting to form what would later be dubbed “The Great American Eclipse.” The path of totality, where the moon completely blocked the sun, stretched along the coasts of the United States for the first time since our country’s independence. As this once-in-a-lifetime moment unfolded, a class of 160 brand new sixth graders, protected by plastic eclipse glasses, marveled at the spectacle. The three-minute-long eclipse was enough to create an everlasting memory, marking the first of many special moments we have shared together as a class.  

In these last few weeks of the class of 2024’s junior year, waves of nostalgia are beginning to crash over us. It feels like just yesterday that we were those sixth graders, with no idea of the future in store for us. For many of us, getting into RE felt like getting into college already; it involved facing interviews, standardized testing, and an extensive application. Some entered RE with few or no friends from beforehand. Others, like the alumni from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School, entered with over 20 former classmates. As we look forward to our senior year, filled with sentimental memories and lots of “lasts,” the class of ’24 should use the time we have left to explore who we are, both as individuals and as a class.  

What truly defines us as individuals? Within the context of RE, we are known as students, athletes, mathematicians, writers, artists, scientists and so on. These roles shape our experiences within the school community. Beyond the school walls, we also carry other identities. We are sons, daughters, siblings, grandchildren, and even pet owners. However, there is uncharted territory outside of these familiar roles that many of us have yet to explore and define for ourselves. 

As we stand on the threshold of our senior year, we are presented with an opportunity for self-discovery and further exploration. This is a time to venture beyond the boundaries of expectations and labels, to uncover hidden passions and interests that have yet to be fully embraced. It is a chance to delve into new experiences, take risks, and push the limits of our comfort zones. 

Here are some more recommendations for the Class of 2024 as we get ready for our final year at RE. 

Keep a journal. Emma Dvorkin recommends keeping a journal and filling it with whatever you want, whether that be sketches, entries, stickers, photographs, you name it. Keep it glued to your person and write down thoughts you would like to remember. Have this journal be a reflection of you, whoever that may be. Not only will this spark your creativity, it will also be a tangible item that will teach you more about yourself than you could ever imagine. If you start early enough, this could also be helpful for writing your supplemental essays or personal statement for college applications!  

Use the time we have left to get closer to your classmates. As eras come to an end, it is natural that people become sentimental and tend to cherish things with more intention. As with every other senior class, the same will hold true for us. Befriend people you weren’t previously friends with. Try out for a sport even if you’ve never played it before. This is your last chance—embrace it. 

Remember the people who made us who we are today: our family, friends, teachers, and classmates. It certainly hasn’t been easy getting to this point, but we have almost crossed the finish line. Our job now is to leave the school better than it was when we came, and to be good leaders to the underclassmen. After all, they will eventually be replacing us in our leadership positions, whether that be team captains or club leaders.  

Prioritize self-care. Throughout our junior year, the stress of college performance has often interfered with what was in our best interest, both mentally and physically. Homework and studying sometimes came before a good night’s rest or quality time spent with friends and family.  

Appreciate the present. Emma: My mother sent me an Instagram Reel recently (as all parents do) that said 93% of your time spent with your children is spent by the time they turn 18. Classic Jewish mother guilt. But it really did change my perspective on my priorities as far as balancing school with my personal life. I realized how quickly my life moved during the school week and how, in the process, I sometimes failed to simply catch up with my parents. For our senior year, we need to take advantage of the time we have left with our loved ones, because just as this year went by fast, our senior year will absolutely fly by.  

Don’t step off of the gas. While most of us, if not all of us, are currently feeling the impacts of “juniorities”, it is important to remain committed to excelling in the classroom. Within the coming months, we will all begin writing our college applications. It is important to keep devoting time and effort into your classes, to leave a good mark on both your teachers and admission representatives. 

Try new things. Whether that’s learning how to wakeboard or cooking new dishes, continually push yourself to take advantage of the time we have now, and our last true summer before adulthood. Make it count. 

Go outside. For many of us, these are the last few moments where we can step outside in shorts and a T-shirt in the middle of January. We live surrounded by beaches and parks- bring a friend, some snacks, a speaker, and get some Vitamin D! 

Talk to people, and constantly ask them for advice. Everyone has something to say, always. That’s a good thing! People have their own unique set of experiences, successes, and failures. By asking for advice, you can tap into the knowledge and wisdom they have acquired through their own journeys. 

This is our last time living in our bubble. Not only do we have an RE bubble, but also a Miami bubble. And for those of us leaving Miami for four years, which will be the majority, a lot is going to change. So, appreciate the time we have left in the bubble while you can. There’s a reason why your parents always talk about their days in high school.