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Last Wednesday, ten seniors sat and subtly spun back and forth in the swivel chairs, talking to each other in the Prairie Village City Hall. PTA members, parents of Indian Hills eighth graders and high school parents filed into the room and took a seat to attend this year’s senior panel forum.
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Although this panel is currently fairly hidden and limited to parents only, the content of this hour long meeting is full of valuable advice and lessons the seniors have learned over the course of the past four years they have spent at East.
The students chosen all have a variety of different backgrounds, experiences, and involvements at the school to sufficiently represent their senior class. This covers the many different kinds of clubs and sports like wrestling, cross country and volleyball, band, choir, the IB and AP programs and many different electives. Besides talking about their own experiences at East, they give strong advice about friendship, classes, and utilizing resources.
The PTA has run a senior panel annually for many years. Besides the notice sent out regarding the date which it takes place, which is usually the middle of fourth quarter, most students and parents have no knowledge of what the senior panel is, because it is not talked about or recognized throughout the school.
“Before Ms. Griffey asked me to be on the panel, I didn’t know it existed,” senior Kelsie Bornholtz said.
The meeting begins with PTA program co-chairman, Carrie Larson, welcoming all of the parents, and each senior introducing themselves. Larson begins to ask questions. All of the topics revolve around what the students were involved in, how they used their resources, and what they wish they would’ve been involved in or known, as a younger high school student. All of the moments they shared led to useful advice towards incoming students.
“I would yell at my eighth grade self,” senior Marshall Green said. “I had this idea that high school was like in movies. When you pick a group of people… you’re with them and you can’t be friends with anyone else, or when you do a certain sport, you are automatically a weird kid or a cool kid depending on what is classified as ‘cool.’”
Green points out that high school stereotypes eventually become irrelevant. All of the seniors on the panel agree that taking advantage of the variety of programs, and choosing to do what interests you most at East is the best way to go through the four years here.
This informative program would greatly benefit incoming students as well as the freshman class, and should, in the future, be optional for students to attend. The PTA board hopes to make that possible for future senior panels. Thanks to the seniors great advice about friendship, classes and getting involved, parents that attend the meeting have said it was, “really beneficial and steadying about having a high schooler going forward.”