Senior Goodbye: Neena Peterson


Courtesy Neena Peterson

Neena steered the direction of DHS Press through distance learning and left an incredible legacy and huge shoes to fill.

When I originally started writing this piece—my last piece for DHS Press—I was sitting on the senior patio during B lunch. A bee had just attacked me, but I was otherwise happy to breathe the fresh air and pretend that life was normal and pandemic free. Ironically, I caught COVID at my first and last prom and have been stuck in my room for a week since. 

Funny how karma works. I should’ve known to stop bragging about my immune system. 

Anyways, the loneliness has sort of caught up with me, and I can suddenly remember what my junior year felt like. The memories are gone, lost in the void of my diseased brain fog, but I realized just how odd my high school experience has been. We had a regular enough freshman year, but any and all valuable teachings from the six months of sophomore year have been lost to the massive void of educational loss and apathy. 

Nothing is as I predicted it would be, thanks to the disease-who-must-not-be-named. Of course, life turned out a lot better than I hoped in the end: I have a comfortably-sized group of friends whom I fiercely adore and who adore me, a report card with no failing grades, a college acceptance letter, and very few remains of my crippling depression. 

However, if you think back to the high school movies we watched as kids (ex. High School Musical, Clueless, Lemonade Mouth, etc), they had four years of this experience. Four years of making friends and enemies, of running through the halls barefoot, of forging memories they can actually remember. Now, I know these characters are fictional and that their mentalities horribly encapsulate the real high school student’s perspective, but it’s what I always imagined would fill my teen years. That’s why it feels absolutely insane to be writing this right now—how am I a senior with so little time spent in high school? 

If I take this approach, then that means I’m not graduating in two weeks. I’m not moving to Charlottesville in two months, and none of my friends are moving across the country from me either. I will live in denial, until I have to focus even harder on shaking hands with and accepting my diploma from Dr. Brewer the right way or tripping on the stage afterwards. Until then, I’ll just pretend that all is normal and that I haven’t aged whatsoever. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the last four years, it’s that denial is your best tool in high school. Denial about encroaching deadlines, bad grades, or relationship mishaps is necessary so you don’t blow up without warning. These emotional truth-bombs can wait until you absolutely have to deal with them—take it from a professional procrastinator. 

If you couldn’t tell, I was totally kidding, so go do your homework. Here’s my actual, really inspiring, last piece of advice for the underclassmen: 

I’ve made the oddest, happiest memories of my life so far at this school—ran around sock-footed like a 2000s movie montage, cried in the bathroom one too many times, and met the most unexpectedly interesting people all the while. Trust me when I say that you’ll never experience anything as truly bewildering as growing up, so promise me that you’ll savor these days before they end. I literally closed my eyes for one second and legally became an adult—something that no one needed to happen—so boycott the siren calls of maturity and responsibility as long as you can resist. 

Be warned: the world is slowly crumbling around us in every possible way, so cross some dreams off your bucket list while you still can. 

It’s been a fun “four” years, and I’ll certainly miss everyone who had the unfortunate burden of teaching me and sitting beside me up until this point. Thank you for every single awkward glance and failed test and wifi crash, because I will hold onto you for dear life next year. 

See ya later!