Letters From the Class of ’23: Alice Mihas


In the fourth grade, we were meant to go to Starved Rock. All the grades above raved about how amazing a trip it was, calling it the “best day ever.” You go hiking, see a waterfall, and sleep over at the school. We all arrived at school that morning feeling giddy. We boarded the school buses ready for the exciting day ahead. However, on that bus, there were no seatbelts. None. No seatbelts meant no trip. The ‘best day ever’ was ruined. We were all completely distraught as we deboarded those yellow school buses. But that’s not how I remember that day because, for us, it was never ruined. We improvised: went to the park, beach, and zoo, and still had our sleepover. According to my fourth-grade yearbook, the day that we didn’t go to Starved Rock was still the “best day ever.”
No one intended for our freshman year to be cut short. No one intended for us to be locked in our computer screens at home all of sophomore year and have to wear masks the majority of junior year. No one intended that our senior year would be our only “normal” year of high school. But that’s just how it was, and we made the best of it, seatbelts or not.
Freshman year, we arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, not knowing how to walk in the halls or just act like normal humans. On our first day, we accidentally sat at the senior tables, a mere three feet above the rest of the cafeteria, but somehow held a remarkable amount of weight. Within minutes, my classmates and I were removed from our chairs and joined the rest of our classmates at the furthest tables away from those heavenly senior tables on the back wall. Even though we quickly learned our place in the cafeteria, that wasn’t the same in the hallways. Despite having the entire locker bay to ourselves, we still managed to block the whole hallway simultaneously. I don’t know quite how we did it, but it seemed to happen every day. We slowly got better as the year went on, but the world shut down just as things were looking up for us. Rather than sitting in Ms. Callis’ English 9 class whispering to my classmates or blocking the hallways, I was at home trapped on my laptop screen.
My sophomore year was more of the same. The day my mom told me the school decided we were going to be virtual again I was crushed. As many know, I am not one to shed a tear, but at this moment I did. This wasn’t what I imagined high school to be, nor what I wanted. The last two months of the year prior had been terrible, and now I was going to have another year of it. But as our grade does, we made the most of it. Rather than spending the year entirely isolated, I spent time with my friends, learning from home. I was never alone, even in isolation. We all made an effort to stay connected and see each other when we could. Once again, my classmates are what got me through that year.
Junior year, we were finally back, together again. Was it normal? No, but it was 1000% better. I remember the day when we were told masks were optional. I walked into school that day seeing people smiling for the first time in over a year; actually smiling, not just smiling through their eyes, but smiling.
And now, finally, it was senior year, our first normal year. While we were never fully shown the ropes, we had all learned together, now taking our rightful spots at the top of the cafeteria. To tell the truth, at the beginning of this year, we were more like freshmen again than seniors, not knowing how to act. We were meant to be the “leaders of the school,” but we didn’t even know what that meant. But as we do, we learned together, making the most of it as we went. Finally, we were the ones who stood in the front rows at the Big Games, indulged in the enticing senior treats, and were commemorated at the senior nights. This is what I had dreamed high school would be. As a class, we were able to turn a disastrous couple of years into amazing ones.
This school has been my home for the past 14 years, and I truly mean home. I am who I am because of this school, because of the amazing teachers, the amazing opportunities, and the amazing community. Like all homes, this school has gone through its fair share of aches and pains, but that is expected because no place is ever perfect. But I love this home, and I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. Even though my years at Latin may not have been perfect, or gone the way any of us had planned, it was still an incredible journey—one that I am so lucky to have been a part of. So, as I begin the next chapter of my life, I will try to remind myself that no matter the odds and how bad something may seem, I, with the help of others, can make it “the best day ever.”