Laker Notes: Sarah Kwartler says that students should recognize that education requires engagement and initiation.

KWARTLERIt feels strange. A piece of cardboard cloaked in navy somehow designates me as a high school graduate.

A short stroll June 1 across the gym in which I've AP tested, dodged balls, performed and cheered my classmates on, and suddenly, my 13 years in the Lake Oswego School District have ended.

The previous morning, I received a letter from my eighth-grade self listing goals like "get a 4.0, go to a terrific college and improve my handwriting." There's nothing wrong with these partially achieved goals, but my most precious

high school experiences were unrelated.

I'm 18, unemployed and going across the country next fall to study marine sciences. I carry a non-Hydro Flask water bottle with dents earned over the past six years and double-knot my shoelaces so that I can slip on my sneakers. Nevertheless, I have some advice for any current or incoming high school students.

First, don't forget your friends and family. Yes, you may be exiting the hormonal, stuffy mess known as junior high school, but do not hide from any past drama by limiting yourself to a single friend group.

I'm a self-diagnosed drifter. With my various groups of friends, I've gone to Powell's prior to prom, spent senior sleepover night playing board games, trick-or-treated halfway through submitting a college application, celebrated denim jacket days to match in class and laughed until I could hardly breathe.

In addition to friends, your family — not Wikipedia — should be your emergency contact. Don't respond to "How was your day at school?" with a grumble, a yawn or by locking yourself in your room like some Kafka character. Talking about your day for a mere five minutes can help you self-reflect and find the joy in it before you settle down for a few eons of homework.

Speaking of homework, it is impossible to complete all of it Sunday night and still have a nice Monday morning, no matter how many caffeinated drinks you consume. It is important to space out your time and recognize when you are most or least efficient. For me, that meant sleeping in late on the weekends

and taking afternoon naps on weekdays.

Although we once recoiled from naps in preschool, they are more healthy and valuable than avocado toast. Live, laugh, love, sleep.

Unfortunately, we have to get up and start our day at some point. Life is better with a soundtrack, so I wake up to music. A peppy song can either put you in a good mood or annoy you enough to make you get out of bed. Listening to music during the commute to school can also be relaxing and brighten your day.

Lastly, don't put your interests on hold. There are a plethora of classes that you can take, but they might not align with your interests. One of my best decisions in high school was utilizing the independent study option to study marine sciences and create a National Ocean Sciences Bowl team at LOHS.

Although the idea of charting a course can seem intimidating, your passion will help you navigate it. Recognize that your education requires your engagement and your initiation.

Although this all may seem like simple advice, following it has helped me develop as a person and greatly enjoy my high school experience. If I were to write a letter to my future college graduate self, my goals would be: "Follow my interests, spend time with family and friends, be ready to adapt — and improve my handwriting."

Lake Oswego High School senior Sarah Kwartler is one of two Laker Notes columnists. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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