Student view: Penticton senior dishes on high school life

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School

If life is a highway, then I guess high school is an on-ramp of sorts.

While most high school seniors, like myself, are feeling almost up to speed, we are a mixed batch of those doing 20 under the speed limit, already getting a ticket and every speed in between.

For anyone whose heart skips a beat when they see a bright green N driving in front of them, here is an inside look at what we are actually up to.

If you graduated high school at least 15 or more years ago, you would probably feel a little out of place stepping back in at this point. Yours truly is a student of Princess Margaret Secondary School.

So don’t quote me on life at Penticton Secondary School, but aside from the cliques being less tight and the smoke pit being almost entirely abandoned, not too much has changed.

There are, of course, still your token groups. Like the awesome guys of our senior boys’ volleyball team that recently competed at the provincial championships, filling in as some of our jocks. We have our theatre nerds, currently hard at work on a production of Mamma Mia, and our band geeks that just played a combined concert with Pen High.

Then there are the hard-working students of our leadership program that organize those charitable events, along with the school Remembrance Day ceremonies and haunted houses, taking the long-forgotten title of the preppies.

With the addition of those of us that spend our day in the art room or science lab, it seems like the blanket title of nerd is held proudly by half of everyone now.

Related: Penticton’s 10,000 Tonight doubled its food drive goal

We do have the constant distraction of the — beloved and vilified — double-edged sword that are our phones. I doubt anyone under 25 has had Snapchat contribute to a breakup, but a distraction from life is also a distraction from the more illicit evils of high school life, which I will say are far more absent than parents, the DARE program and even older siblings led me to believe.

It seems like everyone is more grown-up than the cookie-cutter picture I had painted in my head. I guess people grow up when they need to and high school today, for better or worse, seems to do that, all too well. Nevertheless, there are certainly also lots of us who just have not even left middle school.

Maybe that is the part we can hold some common ground on, young and old alike. Somewhere between filling out 1,300-word applications to UBC and the moment of realization that we can vote next year, a lot of us are scared.

Society as a whole, high school students included, are a bit afraid we might not be ready for the world. It’s pretty easy to think that we’re lazy and too distracted by our phones to safely drive the car.

Yes, that is most definitely some of us, but we are also the people that show up to school before the sun rises to practice blues scales, and leave long after it’s dark choreographing dances to ABBA.

We are raising thousands of dollars for charities, addressing crowds numbering in the thousands about remembering our fallen soldiers and collecting thousands of food items for the hungry.

It is hard to ignore the car doing doughnuts in the parking lot, but don’t forget we’re also the novice drivers signalling, shoulder checking and doing the speed limit as we pull on to the highway.

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School and this is his first column for the Penticton Western News. He will be a regular contributor on high school life and events.

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