Letters From the Class of ’22: Nina Burik


I don’t remember a life without Latin. In that vein, it’s almost impossible to say just how Latin has impacted me. However, certain moments at this school—winning the Lower School Olympics on the Skittles team, hanging on Mr. Rouse’s every word as he recounted Hannibal’s military strategy during the Punic Wars in sixth-grade social studies, and the momentousness of walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge during Project Week—immediately emerge from an ocean of memories. In writing this letter, for the first time in what felt like forever, I let myself go into these open waters and simply swim.
What is so incredible about high school is how important every paper and exam feels; each assignment brings a new framework for grappling with the world, each shakes your footing as an individual just a little. In the process, I think I forgot how to stop moving, even for but a moment, to look around at the tides I fostered. Thus, I wish someone had taught me how to tread water freshman year. I mean to say that the little moments of Latin are the most fulfilling occurrences you will ever experience in your life as a young adult, so please, bask in them. The rush of serotonin you feel when passing a friend in the halls on the way to a tough class. The nervous butterflies finally settle in your stomach after a highly anticipated, but successful calculus test. The gratification of making Ms. Lemieux laugh. The small droplets make up the vast body of water.
When all is said and done, remember that Latin—the highs and the lows—is not meant to be easy. In fact, it should feel difficult. Trust me, I have had my fair share of struggles over the past four years; I did not think I would pass freshman year Honors Algebra II or let alone finish my HUSH final research paper. Making and maintaining friendships throughout this phase of life has by no means been a walk in the park. Just when you think high school can’t feel more strenuous, fall quarter of senior year thrusts you into the most turbulent winds you have ever sailed. I will never forget those midnight autumn hours, writing college applications all while delving into Hobbes and L’Hôpital, trying to extract meaning when all was meaningless without sleep. What I learned, though, and I hope you will understand too, is that this difficulty is fundamental to personal evolution. There is no other time in your life that pushes you in the ways that high school does. I like to think of high school as a practice course for the real world; a bike ride with training wheels before you are forced to balance and fall and steer on your own.
In that sense, I am so grateful that I got to experience these adversities in such a supportive environment. I’m not sure I would have made it through this period without the community I have built here at Latin. Mornings in the history office with Ms. Linder and Ms. Stephens, talking politics, books, and family. Sami’s morning greetings. Long talks over dirty chais and fruit cups in the LC with lifelong friends. Perspective in the tornado of emotion that is adolescence.
And with that, I guess I can come off of my proverbial soapbox and try to remember my own advice as I embark on the next chapter of my life. It is with tears in my eyes that I say goodbye to Latin. Thank you.
The only adequate conclusion to such a journey, which I have compared thus far to a boundless sea, is best described by William Ernest Henley’s Invictus. Or, rather, by Mr. Dunn’s Invictus.
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

See you soon,
Nina Burik ‘22