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The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

Letters from the Class of ’24: Annie Hallinan


If I could summarize my 14 years at Latin with one of those Minted cards they sell at Target, the cover would have three little girls holding orange and blue balloons that spell out “Thank You” in front of the Chicago skyline. I don’t have it in my budget to design a card like this—I spent the last of my summer earnings on a new TI-84—so you’ll just have to take my word when I say my Latin experience was expensive (but worth it!), vibrant, and deceptively simple—just like a Minted card.

Whenever I go to Target with my sister, Katie, we always peruse the Minted aisle. We talk about various things, mostly school drama or what social events are coming up. It’s always something about Latin. As I pick out a white card with a dark brown Dachshund wearing a red scarf and booties on the front, I’m reminded of Chicago’s brutal winters and how my mom would wrap me up like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” just so I could go outside for recess. There, I’d have snowball fights with Mimi and Allie while we watched the passersby stroll with their dogs. We would also play house, restaurant, and try to sell “ice cream” to our teachers. These were some of the best times of my life.

As we grew up, our teachers warned us that school would soon become more serious. And they were right. On my first day of Middle School, an orange and blue balloon arch welcomed me into the building. It was official—I was now a fifth grader! I took on more responsibility with Science Olympiad and swimming, and I already felt on top of the world. I had everything figured out. Until I got lunch detention for running in the halls and playing GamePigeon on my iPad. Maybe I wasn’t so grown up after all.

A few years later, I wholly underestimated high school’s rigor. I had a lukewarm idea of what to expect, because I begged my brother, Jack, to tell me stories and give me advice. And I think I watched one too many high school movies, because I remember being absolutely terrified of getting shoved into my locker by some rude jock.

I quickly learned that Jack’s advice wouldn’t be much help and that high school was nothing like the movies. So I had to figure it out by myself. My freshman year, I joined swimming, lacrosse, IFA, and The Forum. I spent the majority of my nights cooped up with my laptop, a calculator, and a notebook, wishing on everything I could to get good grades. And, for the most part, I succeeded, so I went out on the weekends and made as many new friends as I could. Like many of my classmates, I felt completely isolated by the pandemic and devoted my junior and senior years to reversing this problem. But I certainly couldn’t have done all of this alone. And it wasn’t without many tears, frantic emails to my teachers, or a terrifying amount of caffeine, either.

My biggest piece of advice to the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors is to take time to figure out who you are, what you like, and what makes you happy. Almost nothing will go according to plan, so having a support system to fall back on is essential. And don’t put all your eggs in one basket—a good work-life balance is crucial! Sure, it’s cliché, but so are Minted cards, and people still buy those.

I haven’t quite figured out yet how to say goodbye to the community I so deeply cherish. There was a long period during which I spent more time at Latin than I did at home, so Old Town became my new neighborhood. Although I didn’t live there, I became so accustomed to the area that it felt like home. But the Latin community itself really defined belonging for me: It’s one of the best groups of people I’ve ever known, which makes this upcoming goodbye so hard. Luckily, I’ll carry my memories—the sweet and the not-so-sweet—with me for the rest of my life, just as one can do with a card.

Writing this letter now makes me realize that, regardless of how often I wish to put high school in the past and move forward with my life, I will always be tied to Latin. Every time I go to Starbucks, I’ll think of Miranda at North and Wells, where I’m sitting now to write and drink my iced coffee; or, when I see someone wearing Mini Ugg boots or a Kendra Scott pendant, I’ll think of some of Latin’s fashion trends. But most importantly, when I graduate college and get that fancy job, I’ll remember who got me there: Mr. Woods, Ms. Neely, Mr. Joyce, Ms. Ilkhchi, Mrs. Addison, Dr. June, Coach Danielle, Coach Caroline, and my very best friends. And, of course, my Forum family. Thank you, Latin, for giving me these amazing role models and the greatest support system I could ever ask for. I’ll be a Roman forever.

All the best,
Annie Hallinan

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About the Contributor
Annie Hallinan
Annie Hallinan, Managing and Standards Editor & Media Editor
Annie Hallinan (‘24) is a senior at Latin who is beyond excited to return to The Forum for her third year on staff. Aside from serving as Managing & Standards Editor and Media Editor, Annie is a captain of the Girls Swimming & Diving team and a co-head of Latin’s Intersectional Feminist Alliance. In her articles, Annie has covered the Latin School Union and changes to Latin’s campus and administration. The Forum has provided Annie with plenty of opportunities to get to know the Latin community better, making her writing more informed and reliable. Besides writing, Annie also enjoys working out, spending time with friends, and trying new coffee shops.

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  • E

    Eliza LampertApr 13, 2024 at 9:36 am

    Beautiful letter <3 I love The Forum and YOU!!!

  • K

    Katie HallinanApr 12, 2024 at 11:41 pm

    Now on to making so many new, and just as amazing, memories! I love you and can’t wait to see you flourish!