It wasn’t traditional, but it was ours: the NNHS class of 2023 experience


Photo by Claire Tanza

End of year celebrations are in full swing for Naperville North seniors. With Senior Celebration, the Hypnotist Assembly and Prom come and gone, we now look towards graduation. Therefore, I’ve been reflecting on my four years as a Naperville North Huskie.

Recently I was asked if I thought the class of 2023 had gotten the NNHS ‘experience’ we were promised. My immediate response was, “Yes, we have.” I went to enough school dances for a lifetime, dressed up for every game theme imaginable and stressed over winter finals, making for a typical high school experience. 

Upon further consideration, I began questioning what our high school experience was supposed to be and if, aside from the occurrence of school events, the class of 2023 had that at all.

Beginning with the Enter With Pride assembly prior to freshman year, the pervasive school spirit and bond at NNHS was obvious. It seemed to me that no matter the sport or activity I was in, my classmates would have some understanding and general appreciation for what I was involved in. School events, traditions and achievements of teams and clubs were acknowledged and celebrated by the entirety of the school community. It was truly a picture perfect image of school pride and unity.

Today, I can listen to the announcements or walk past the “Huskie Happenings” boards with little to no knowledge of what a certain event or activity entails—and I graduate on Sunday.

Of course, there is one blaring reason for this disconnect: the pandemic. 

Two thirds of the way through my freshman year we were sent home. We all know the story; for the following year and half we were plagued with the statement “in a normal year…” and clinging to the idea of the traditional Naperville North experience that the class of 2023 barely knew ourselves.

Now, I’m choosing to indulge in the “would haves” of these circumstances. Perhaps in that year and a half, I would have gotten to know more people, broadening my social circle. Maybe I would have tried out different clubs and taken more chances to expand my interests. Maybe I would have gone to an NNHS hockey game or watched the Radio Play. Had all these things happened, maybe I would feel the same school connection I saw as an incoming freshman.

While I can’t speak for the entirety of the graduating class, I assume this sentiment is at least understandable to my classmates. Although my high school experience may have lacked some of the school bonds that were initially promised, it did not lack in priceless memories and achievements I’ve gained in the last four years.

I’ve met some of my closest friends, challenged myself academically, reaped the rewards of dedication and teamwork through extracurriculars and enjoyed a healthy dose of exciting school spirit. In short, I’ve grown as a student, friend, leader and person. Isn’t that what the Naperville North High School experience should be? 

And so my final answer to the original question is: yes. It may not have been seamless, but the past four years have delivered the high school experience we were promised in one way or another. And on May 21, I can move my tassel knowing that myself and my fellow graduates made the most of what Naperville North had to offer.