Editor's note: Glenbard South High School graduate Noah Salins is an Illinois State Scholar and competed on the school's Scholastic Bowl team. The Glen Ellyn resident plans to attend Marquette University, where he will study in the College of Arts & Sciences.
If being in high school during a global pandemic has taught me anything, it's that there is way more to school than just learning. The social aspect of high school is what distinguishes it from every other experience in one's life, and it definitely did for me.
Throughout the majority of my junior year, I was at home in front of my laptop, staring at a camera for hours every day. The pandemic affected everyone in different ways, but it was those blank Zoom screens that impacted me the most. I didn't even fully understand why until I came back for my senior year, and realized that the human element, the social connection I had missed so much, was something I had never really developed with my classmates.
Now, don't get me wrong. I had friends and acquaintances at school, people I could talk to about quizzes or extracurriculars, but there was never any real conversation. I would go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning to the only notification on my phone being "Battery sufficiently charged." Returning to in-person learning forced me to grapple with the fact that I hadn't had a solid friend group at school in years. This realization, this 10-megaton truth bomb, hit me hard, but it also strengthened my resolve. Throughout senior year, I made an effort to put myself out there, to strengthen old friendships and build new ones.
About halfway through first semester, a guy I knew, but wasn't close with, invited me to hang out with him and a few others on top of a parking garage of all places. At first I was a little confused, but driving to that parking garage was probably one of the best decisions of my life.
In the past few months, my friends and I have developed something special, a bond that we all treasure. Despite all of the struggles that my peers and I have gone through these past two years, we're still able to form strong, meaningful relationships with each other, and I think that's kind of beautiful.