These Four Years Were Not What I Expected

Parties every weekend, doing drugs in the bathroom, ditching school… This was the high school experience I expected to have; but it didn’t happen that way.

After eight years in Jewish private schools, I came to BHS thinking I would be thrown up against a locker before receiving a swirly by an upperclassman on my first day. I quickly realized that was not the reality at a school like Beachwood, and especially not in the Class of 2021. 

We were always the quietest grade in the high school, while still being one of the largest. Every year the Class of 2021 has struggled to find people to participate in Spirit Week and other school events like football games, but in commitment to school work, it seems our class never falls short. 

“The class of 2021 is focused on their academics,” guidance counselor Jason Downy said. “I had a lot of students who had a plan coming in… [class of 2021 students] had an idea as a freshman of what they wanted to do.”

Focused is exactly what the class of 2021 is: Looking straight down the hallway towards the door of our next class instead of talking to peers. Not to say we’re not friends with one another; we are just focused on school. 

Yoav Pinhasi was one of the most focused students in our grade, and he had one major goal entering high school:

“To get all A’s, I wouldn’t recommend it,” he said, “It’s really stressful, and you miss out on things.”

Students in the Class of 2021 took many different approaches to their work and social lives, but a level of seriousness about academics is taken for granted.”

For many, the culture of focused academics might have hindered our personal and emotional growth. 

“I think we have a really successful and smart grade, but one thing that results from that is that there’s pressure to push yourself beyond what might be healthy,” Pinhasi added.

However, students like Avery McShepard took a completely different approach to school.

“As long as I kept my GPA at [a reasonable spot], I was good, knowing I still made time to have fun.” 

The rigor of Beachwood’s courses is not to be taken lightly. Overloading on AP courses and clubs was a much more common lunch table discussion than who would be throwing a party over the weekend.

“If you whisper to a friend in class, or make a joke, students treat it like it’s the end of the world,” McShepard said.

Students in the Class of 2021 took many different approaches to their work and social lives, but a level of seriousness about academics is taken for granted. It seems to have paid off, as a large number of students from our class have been admitted into an impressive list of schools.  Of course high school changed irreversibly for us in March of 2020, but even so, these experiences have shaped who we have become.

“I can’t imagine myself as anyone else at this point,” Pinhasi said.

As we approach graduation, it is only natural to reflect on our time in high school, but Pinhasi is right. Beachwood and our Class of 2021, has formed the identity of each one of us. We shouldn’t imagine ourselves as any different than we are because we all turned out pretty great.