Once a Panther, Always a Panther

Written by Julia Kirchner

As I’m sitting down to write this, the thing that is weighing the heaviest on my mind is the disbelief that it’s really time for our senior issue. The past four years have not been nearly long enough, and I can’t help but wish that I could have four more. I’m the type of person who does not do well with change (which Savannah would blame on me being a Taurus), and saying goodbye to PRP will by far be my hardest goodbye yet.

As a freshman, I was very quiet and I only knew a few people at PRP. I was terrified of making new friends. In Foxy’s words, I was “painfully shy,” which she thought was hilarious. It took a while, but I found my crowd and I fell in love with my new best friends. They slowly pulled me out of my shell, and I began to really love PRP. I joined KYA and KUNA, which played a huge role in shaping me into the person that I am now. I still struggled to believe in myself though, and I allowed that to hold me back.

Sophomore year, I became friends with more people who I never expected to be close with. They cared so much for me and they taught me how to stand up for myself. Not only that, but they encouraged me to do things that I was scared of doing, and I am so grateful. This was the year that I joined Paw Print, or the Paw Patrol, and I learned how much I love to write. Paw Print has helped me become a stronger writer (a published journalist, I might add!) and it has helped me find the voice that I needed to have.

Junior year, I came out of my shell more than ever before. I pushed myself to do the things I never thought I could do. I was class president and gave a speech in front of the entire class and their parents. I applied for GSP and got to spend the summer with my new statewide family. I was chosen to be HBIC in Paw Print for my senior year. I made myself do all of the things that I knew I would regret not doing. In other words, my FOMO forced me to make memories that I will never forget.

Senior year has been tough for many reasons. Taking college courses, writing endless application essays, participating in extracurriculars, and getting used to having Diabetes has not made it easy. At some points I have fallen behind, and I have wanted to give up. However, the community that we have at PRP has never let me give up on myself. I have always had endless love and support, and I don’t know what I would have done without that.

As much as I’m ready for the next chapter, I can’t help wanting to hang on a little bit longer. I’m going to miss homecomings, Friday night lights in the black hole, and dressing like an idiot for spirit week. I’m going to miss procrastinating in Paw Print and visiting the nursing home for clinicals. I’m going to miss singing Little Red Wagon, and I know it sounds crazy, but I might even miss sitting in my classes with the people who have become my family more than anything else.

Our senior year is not a usual one. We aren’t sure if we will get to do all of the things that other classes have gotten to do. We don’t know if we will ever get to sit in class with each other again. However, we are still a family and we always will be. I am leaving PRP with a very sad heart, but one full of memories and hope for our future.

These past four years have impacted me more than I can describe in a one-page farewell. PRP has helped me find myself. It has given me all of the room that I needed to grow into the person that I am now. To my classmates, you have shown me the kind of person that I want to be, and I promise that I will never stop trying to be better for all of you. And to my teachers, thank you for pushing me and for supporting me unconditionally. I don’t know how these next few years will go, but I know that I have what I need to be successful.

“I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me.” -Dwight K. Schrute


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