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About Time! Penn Freshman Finally Graduates High School


Photo in the Public Domain

Since Penn freshman (now rising sophomore), Erika Smithson (W '24), didn't get a summer internship, she decided to go through last year's to-do list to find something productive to do. In her search, she found many things she had done but had forgotten to cross off including, "get into Penn," and others which she would have to erase because they could never happen, such as, "get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, or Colombia." 

In her search, she found an entry that read, "graduate high school." In shock, she realized since school had been virtual in the spring, she had never done that. Fortunately for Erika and the other 548 not-yet-graduates of James K. Polk high school, the school rallied and held a year-late graduation ceremony for the 183 students that chose to attend. Among these students was Erika. 

"At first, I was really excited to have my graduation. I wore my favorite dress under my robe and set out to have a really memorable day." But upon getting to the ceremony, Erika faced a difficult realization. "Once I sat down, I looked at the people around me and thought, 'wait I don't really like any of these people. Why am I here?' it was really embarrassing."

Unfortunately for Erika, her parents, and all others attendees, the ceremony was incredibly long, the speeches were incredibly boring, and the sun was incredibly hot. All of the common graduation miseries were present as if God was asking the now-graduates, "Why would you do this?" 

After the ceremony, Erika looked around for friends to take pictures with and realized that she no longer considers the people she went to high school with friends. Content with this new knowledge, she took a selfie and went to lunch with her family. She walked into the restaurant and immediately was bombarded with questions from the waiter and surrounding strangers about if she would be going to college and if so, where.

"This is torture!" Smithson thought. Then she realized that she had brought this upon herself and thus could not complain. She answered the questions and thought back to the treasured words a wise man once said: "Never go back to high school. Once you escape that place, run."