Closing Comments

Seniors reflect on their years at Stuyvesant and The Spectator.

Reading Time: 13 minutes

This is the final issue for the seniors on the Editorial Board. Here are their departing pieces of wisdom.


If I could change two things about Stuyvesant, the first would be the racism against Black and Hispanic and Asian American students, faculty, and staff, in all its forms. The second would be the fact that leaving Stuyvesant is not considered to be a real option by a significant part of the student body, and is not generally spoken about. The very phrase “Dropping out” connotes a failure, and there is a sense that to leave Stuyvesant is to succumb to just that.

Nonsense. Stuyvesant is, by design, not the right school for everyone. It is supposed to be a pressure cooker, and it is supposed to give a workload that would be unreasonable for the vast majority of people. Within the Spectator Editorial Board, whether Stuyvesant should be less intense is a perennial topic of discussion. My position is consistently that it should not be, because I came here for this level of intensity; I think there ought to be a school to serve my needs, and I was told that Stuyvesant was that school. To take away the intensity would be to take away what I signed up for and what I thrive in.

A better solution: if it’s not what you signed up for, or if what you signed up for turns out not to be a good fit, leave. The insulting way to say that is “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” but I don’t mean it as an insult. In fact, that’s exactly why we should normalize leaving Stuy: there should be no shame in seeking a lower-pressure environment if that is the right place for oneself. High pressure does not universally equate to goodness, and it is ridiculous to pretend such.

The catch is that, as I wrote last April about the present moment: “Central to my general position about the workload at Stuyvesant is the element of choice … But my general framework doesn’t apply here. Stuyvesant’s juniors chose to be Stuyvesant juniors; no one chose to be living in the middle of a pandemic.”

So normalize leaving, next year. In the meantime, this school needs to sacrifice some rigor for compassion.


Shoutout to Mr. Hiller, whose flip flops made my first year of Stuy feel a lot homier; Mr. Holmes, whose hot dog experiments and Tower of Hanoi demonstrations made me think for a hot second that I could actually pursue a career in computer science; Mr. Sandler for forever embedding into my brain that Zachary Taylor died of raw milk and cherries; Zhou lao shi for being the most compassionate, loving teacher I’ve ever had; Mr. Grossman for bringing together the wonderful world that is my Great Books class; and Mr. Garfinkel for teaching me that authentic writing is the best writing (#m’okay4evah—iykyk).

Thank you to all the amazing writers I have worked with over the last two semesters; you all make up the heart, soul, and driving force behind the Sports Department, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of you through your writing. I promise you will never have to read another “PLEASE DON’T START YOUR SECOND DRAFT UNTIL AN EIC MAKES EDITS!” or “DO NOT ACCEPT ANY SUGGESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COPY DEPARTMENT!” on my page-long block comment ever again. Unless you end up with me in college—in that case, run and run as fast as you can because the lord may not like you as much as you think.

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge everyone who put up with me the last four years—I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad that you did.


I’ve really enjoyed a lot of my time at Stuyvesant and a lot of the people I’ve gotten to spend it with. I realize that that isn’t particularly descriptive, but I procrastinated writing this, so I don’t have time to go into more detail. In particular, I’ve loved working alongside all the writers and editors of The Spectator over the last few years (except Jordan Barakat, who has been a bane on my existence from day one) to keep making dumb jokes and putting out this paper biweekly-ish.

I always assumed that my time at Stuyvesant would be a constant upward trend peaking in senior year; I certainly didn’t anticipate spending the last year and a half of it attending classes from my bed. In a lot of ways, I regret not getting to have a more normal senior year with more normal senior things, but it hasn’t been as bad as it could have been. I’m immensely grateful to all the people who have made this year and the last four bearable, and I’m sorry I can’t high five you about it.


When the 2018-2019 Editorial Board first introduced this tradition, I couldn’t wait until I could write my own closing comment as a senior. Thirty-four issues, 19 articles, and two special projects later, I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten to this point. Though I honestly can’t remember much about geometry proof theorems or the order of Chinese dynasties, my Stuyvesant experience has raised me well. I’ve learned the worst things about burnout, and the best ways to recover from burnout. I’ve learned that believing in yourself is sometimes all you really need.

If I had to pass down any practical “senior” wisdom, it would be to take care of yourself more. Don’t skip breakfast, especially when your mom wakes up early in the morning to make it for you. Sit up straight, and consider buying yourself a laptop stand to save your back. There will be many times where you will need to put yourself before others and especially before Stuyvesant, and that is perfectly okay. Take a break or a mental health day when you need one (see: burnout), and spend time with loved ones doing activities you enjoy (see: recovering from burnout).

And when you’re not recuperating from malnutrition or intense sleep deprivation, make sure to do what you love, and fight for what you love. Stuyvesant is often full of relentless deadlines, endless weeks of stress, and back-to-back rock bottoms. But the spaces you actively build for yourself, where you get to pursue your personal passions surrounded by amazing people, are all you will really remember once high school flies by.


It feels weird to be in the position of giving advice. To be honest, I still feel like a sophomore at heart. Still, I have picked up a few words of wisdom over my nearly four (gasp) years at Stuyvesant. First, the people at Stuy are what makes our school so special. There is no feeling quite like that of running frantically between floors during SING! practice; sitting on the half-floor, sophomore bar, or junior atrium (rip senior bar) with your computer on your lap while pretending to study for a test or write an essay but really just laughing at a joke; or, of course, staying up into the wee early hours of the morning on the nights that we send The Spectator. I did all of these with friends. So hold those relationships tight. Second, high school will fly by. Don’t get too caught up in the little things (think: tests, applications). Try to remember, and I know it's hard, to stay after class to catch up with a teacher or take the subway home with a friend you have not talked to for a while. Those are the memories that will stay with you (a perfect grade on a test never will). And third, I’ve learned that my stomach is not made for caffeine—no matter how little sleep I get.


If I were to describe Stuy in my favorite three flavors of Starburst:

Lemon would be for the many moments that seemingly make you want to drop out, but then collectively become what’s the best flavor (you can argue all you want). Whether it’s studying three periods before a test, rehearsing your oratory speech for a speech competition to a night janitor, or grabbing a quick after-school boba to soothe the fact that your phone has just been confiscated for the third time, do it with a friend! High school is a lot easier when you choose to surround yourself with all sorts of amazing, interesting, and caring people you love, people you’re able to celebrate the highs and brave through the lows with. And what’s more, though Stuy has its fair share of problems, from the occasional student-administration communication breakdown to implicit racism against some students, transform your observations into experiences that create a more inclusive tomorrow where people aren’t afraid to talk anything lemon.

Orange, which tastes exactly like the fruit but almost in an artificial way, is our commitment to finding a balance between research and preserving the human side of the equation. Yes, numbers are important. But please don’t be that person crying about an A- on an English paper and certainly DON’T be that person going around making fun of people for not having enough AP classes. Be empathetic to others, and remember that in a school as hard to get through as Stuy, success requires a supportive, loving community, not an individual.

And Taro, which isn’t one of the original flavors or a typical candy flavor at all, would manifest itself in the creativity that Stuy’s myriad of potential relationships and opportunities will enable you, in a newfound ability to make things work out of very little, and in your ultimately being the wild card to make the impossible possible.


If you’re going to sneak iced coffee in your backpack, make sure it’s sealed. Like, really make sure. Buy a pair of $12 sneakers from Target and leave them in your gym locker. They’ll last until senior year, and you’ll never have to do the “unprepared” walk of shame into the gym in Doc Martens. Sometimes skipping the escalators and taking the long way up with a friend is worth being late to class. No homework or test is worth an all-nighter (I really mean it, not sleeping has never made my life better). Bring a water bottle to school and hydrate, otherwise you might faint in the chemistry lab and scare your teacher to death (definitely not based on personal experience). When a teacher writes “see me” on a test, see them. It’s scary, but worth it, because they’ll help you if you let them. Let yourself be happy for your friends when they succeed where you fail. And check out the stuff in those little glass tiles sometimes. Some of it’s really cool.


We are always in a hurry to be happy, and at times, we are happy to be in a hurry.

That breathless feeling of running up eight flights of stairs two at a time from the scanners to the elevated stools and slanted drafting desks; that skip in my step scurrying down the Hudson staircase to the backstage Murray Kahn theater for the Friday SING! show; and that deep inhale and exhale when I pause at the closed door of my classroom, or in the water fountain on the 6th floor gym just out of eyesight of the teacher, or in the wings, waiting for my cue.

In my time at Stuyvesant, there was scarcely a moment when I could sigh in relief and say, “I have no work left.” Often, I was running late to my first period class (to my classmates and teachers who witnessed me scurrying in every morning, this is an incredibly tardy apology); yet it has taken almost a year cooped up in my apartment for me to realize I miss being late. I miss running to catch the train, up flights of stairs, through the hallways to my next class. This is coming from someone who has to catch her breath after 5 laps of the Pacer test.

So, what’s the point of my paragraphs of flowery reminiscence? A purely selfish reason to be frank; I’ve so many jumbled thoughts that I run around in circles, so I’m winging this. Quite nerve wracking this is; these are the words of a high school senior who has spent only 1.5 years in the actual building (transfer students represent :D, JA students deserve more recognition); these are the words of a copy editor who has read countless, fantastic essays, from the Mulan live-action and articles on an SU event; these are the words of a writer, well aware her words will soon be printed in black and white, shipped to the homes of faculty, classmates, strangers and embedded in the archives of the Internet. Someone will read my words; admittedly, the chances are it will be me in the future (Hi, Future Me!); admittedly, this is yet another flowery paragraph of me simply saying I do not feel qualified to give advice, but I will do so regardless.

If there is a club, a class, something you want to join and partake in, do it. Don’t delay it. Four years pass by in a flash. Don’t chicken out on Speech tryouts last minute, or join that dance group senior year because you tell yourself you’ll go all out your last year of high school and then find out that you really like that group and wish you’d sign up earlier.

There is more to see beyond the 1/2/3 Chambers St train station; buy some discounted Toblerones from the Lot-Less store; flip through the Barnes & Noble above the Whole Foods, or the cart outside the Mysterious Book Shop; admire the crepes at the Takahachi Bakery; visit Poet’s House. Trust me; you’ll get lost in the shelves.

Treat yourself if you’re in a sour mood and have some change to spare. That, and it’s a good excuse to buy a Chipotle bowl, or Shake Shack fries (regretfully, I’ve never had Shake Shack. Criminal, I know).

It’s the small things that resound the loudest. If someone looks cool in a new outfit or dyed their hair, drop a compliment. Purchase some chocolates or carnations from Indicator and send a note their way, or plant a surprise sticky note on their locker. Walk with friends to their lockers or next class. When we return to a world where six-feet apart is reduced to a customary 1.5-feet distance, I’ll be sure to high-five and hug all my friends.

Shoutout to Ms. Gorla for taking time after class to answer my repetitive questions and for making me believe I have a chance to do well in physics; to Mr. Choubaralian for the Battery Park skating outings and ice rink trip and for reconnecting me with my childhood hobby for skates; to Dr. Brockman for a lovely two years and counting of Clodius, Caligula, Caesar, “I, Claudius,” and more; to Mr. Stephan for letting me and my friends stay after school for an hour strumming scales on the guitar, and write and perform a poorly rewritten parody of “Demons”; to Mr. Sterr for letting me audit, taking the time to go over exams that I totally didn’t get 70s on, and offering advice; to Mr. Garfinkel, for recommending novels I aspire to showcase on my shelf, thoughtful comments and class discussions, and rekindling my passion for writing. An additional shoutout to the faculty and custodians for putting up with me and my friends hanging out in the corridor overlooking the junior atrium or my naps against my locker.

Cheers to four years, and many more in retrospect. If you can’t tell by my long rant, I’m the kind of person to say goodbye last, to wait for the other person to hang up on the call. But I’ll conclude this note-turned-essay with a quote, “You yourself are your biggest supporter.”


My memory is a little blurry looking back on these four years. Only some things jump out: hanging out and sleeping on the ninth floor, running on only adrenaline when staying late in school for chorus rehearsals, SOS and SING! performances, looking forward to taking rollerblading class before March 2020 hit, carrying boxes of pizzas to the fourth floor, and staying up late debugging my convoluted code while on voice chat with friends, for example. The memories of running to the subway and into AP Music Theory always one minute late, however, I could make do if they were a little less vivid. Don’t be too sad about having a one to tenth floor climb, just think of it as having leg day every day. There are so many more little details, but the point is, the friends and acquaintances I have made these moments shine golden. They helped me overcome some of my fears, when I had stood, pale faced, hesitant to join a club meeting because I didn’t know anyone there, and supported me through some moments where I thought the end of the world was coming (mental breakdown - is that what they were?).

There’s something exhilarating about seeing the people around you succeed, in their own ways, as you succeed. So keep in contact with those you form relationships with, and don’t hesitate to participate in whatever you’re interested in.

Also, I’m not sure if this is free advertisement but PokeGreen, albeit a little expensive, really saved my growling stomach on those late nights at school. Feel free to judge.


After interviewing Mohammad Haque (’02) for an article about a documentary featuring former Stuyvesant students recounting their experiences on 9/11, I asked him why he chose to share his story in the documentary and with me. He replied, “There’s no small story when it comes to something like September 11.”

Reporting for The Spectator these past four years, I’ve found there’s no small story, period. I’ve written and edited articles covering everything from anti-racism initiatives at Stuyvesant to changes in the school administration (there have been quite a few!).

I’ve learned from each piece I’ve worked on. From Haque, I understood the ongoing emotional toll of 9/11 through the lens of another Stuyvesant student. From investigating the role of Facebook within Student Union elections, I became a more mindful consumer of social media. From my interview with Eve Berman—one of the first 13 women to attend Stuyvesant in 1969—I was inspired to be brave and fight for change I believe in.

More than anything else, The Spectator has taught me the power of actively and thoughtfully listening to the wonderful people all around me. My biggest piece of advice would be to connect with and grow from your peers. Listen to their not-so-small stories. There are so many still waiting to be heard.


High school is just as important college. Instead of worrying about what’s next, make sure you enjoy now.