One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Amit Somalwar (UIC GPPA ’23), who lived in 1504A during his senior year. He was a Head Tutor for his hall and he actively gave back to his community through his roles as a peer tutor and a student ambassador.
Three years ago, we all made the decision to leave the comforts of our home and continue our high school journey at IMSA. And although we knew that our high school experience would not be the norm, we should be thankful of all the sacrifices that we, our loved ones, and our friends, have made as we inch closer and closer to graduation each and every day. We may not have Friday night dance practices, Saturday mall trips with our friends, football Sunday, visits to local restaurants, family dinners, the warmth of our pets and the aroma of homemade chicken noodle soup. And obviously, the one thing we all lost when coming here was the peace, quiet, and childhood friends of home, our real home. But, IMSA has become our home away from home. And from IMSA, each one of us has something to be proud of, unforgettable memories that we will take away from our three years here. We have a ton of clubs and shows that allow you to show your heritage, your talents in singing and dancing, your creativity and leadership, and most importantly your talents, such as CASA, Diwali, and Lunar.
We’re allowed to go on walking trips with friends and get free pancakes and Frappuccinos. We can organize watch parties and have movies played in IN2 and the Lecture Hall. We can enjoy the presence of therapy dogs and the joy of seeing cookie bake and ice cream in Sodexo. We can devour ramen at 2am when we’re on that homework grind. We can spend the most time with our best friends. But, with all that, I for one am not going to miss fire alarms going off at 3am or going outside because a pop tart was microwaved for 3 minutes instead of 3 seconds. Quite a poptartastrophe indeed. But, in the morning hours and on weekends, you can go to your room and enjoy some peace and quiet, some alone time to reflect and remember that you’re just a high school student in an extraordinary place. And because of this extraordinary place, we’re gifted extraordinary opportunities, things that would’ve seemed so impossible at our old high school. A lot of things that simply became possible due to the people that we have around us. Whether it be the counseling offices, Student Council, administration, CAB, the health offices, Residential Life, or even the students and teachers that you see every day, they’re the reason why our experience here is so special and memorable. IMSA has been more than just our school, it’s truly been our second home.
Every person, place, and thing at IMSA is special in its own way. There’s always something happening, always people to converse with and enjoy time with, and always lifelong memories to make, in whatever way imaginable. Everybody has such a unique and fun personality but in their own ways, and everybody’s different. Even though sometimes it might seem like we’re restricted within the IMSA bubble, so many people within that sphere are so close and will strike up a conversation and hang out with each other, in the hallway, while printing in the IRC, in 08, at the loft, or even at Sodexo. That’s what makes our student body and our community so tight-knit, because we only need each other to continue each and every day. It’s a unique kind of fun that’s like really looked up upon at IMSA. We learn to appreciate and immerse ourselves in the fun that IMSA students pride themselves in having. That’s what makes coming to this place all the more worthwhile.
Nobody said these past three years were going to be easy. They also didn’t say it would go by this fast, filled with unforgettable memories. I still remember orientation, sophomore year move-in, the lap-sit challenge with our entire class, the ice cream social, big sibling movie nights, MHI week, homecoming, all the amazing culture shows, clash, Luau, the historic Meme War and who can forget the impromptu slabs parties. I also remember walking down the hallways, being in the renovated science classrooms, seeing the kaleidoscope for the first time, listening attentively to teachers’ lectures and marveling at how lucky I am to be where I am. But, I also remember skipping meals to study for tests, failing reading quizzes, crying and being stressed about grades and extracurriculars, and unsure of whether I would make it to the end. At the end of it all, I know I won’t be walking the hallways I walked every day for three years, I won’t be watching Janna’s TikToks and Faris’s Vans challenge videos made at 3 am, I won’t be hearing Aryan’s jaw-dropping music or seeing Saisu’s “interesting” posts on my Facebook feed, I won’t be eating with the same people in Sodexo every day, I won’t be seeing people try to open bananas with their forehead, I won’t be hearing zinc, cop, and mang, and I won’t be cheering a basketball team destined to win a regional game. All of these memories are so special, because I’ll never forget about them. As I look around my room and see faces of IMSA, dinner date pictures, posters from Clash, etc. and look through my phone and see napchat memories, ISP’s live streams, and all the wonderful pictures I’ve taken with my amazing friends, it’s so nostalgic knowing how many memories I’ve had in such a short period of time here. I’ve gotten so close to so many new and interesting people that I never would have imagined talking to sophomore year. Today, I can’t imagine going a day without talking to them. But it’s a little sad thinking about how everything is temporary. And we often only appreciate the things we love once they’re no longer here and I’ve learned to appreciate the unique kind of fun that happens at IMSA.
IMSA will be the best thing to ever happen to you as a child, and I’m so grateful and happy that I could carry with me all the amazing things that I’ve done at IMSA and all the wonderful things that IMSA has given me, not only with its academics, but with its student body and its culture. We’re all sure to have hard times, nights filled with tears and frustration, but we can never experience the immense joy of all the good things that our home has to offer without experiencing firsthand the pains of high school. That’s IMSA, and there won’t be anything like it, and so cherish the moment, because these kinds of moments only happen once. Be happy for this moment, for it is your life, “And for once don’t look back” (Rick Riordan The Last Olympian).