Senior column: Crashing into senior year


Photo by Andie San Luis

Senior Jacquelyn Burrer poses next to her car. The dent in her car was a result of an accident where she got T-boned on Marsh and Plano Parkway.

On the first day of senior year, I got T-boned in my driver side door and had a debilitating concussion for nearly six months. In addition to the global pandemic, I wasn’t able to function normally without painful headaches, and I missed nearly all of my already altered senior year. Here is my senior year experience and a few things that I learned along the way: 


While I was driving home on Aug. 19, I got into a car accident which resulted in a significant concussion and whiplash. I was in the initial recovery for the first three weeks of school, and I went back full time Sept. 8. After returning, I developed recurring headaches any time I was in an area with activity, noise and bright light — which made attending school nearly impossible. The headaches were so bad that I could not physically operate a vehicle or function normally; this caused my yearly total absence to reach 72 days. 


I was at home for weeks, going back and forth to doctors’ offices only to find no solid solutions to my headaches. I would occasionally show up to newspaper or economics class, but had to go sit in a quiet spot to attempt to do my work. This led to little to no socialization, excluding a few friends. After months of trying all kinds of medications to no avail, I finally hit a turning point in December when one medicine stopped the cycle of headaches, and I was able to start going back to class at the new semester. 


One of the worst parts of the concussion was missing out on my senior marching season. I have been in band since I was in sixth grade, and I never expected to end my band career without realizing it had ended. I was expecting a normal marching season, ending with my last state competition; instead, I watched my band perform on a livestream with the volume lowered so it wouldn’t give me a headache. 


I was determined to make it back to band to finish out my last year in some capacity. I started playing my flute every other day to build up a tolerance to the headaches, and after two months, I was able to play without any problems. I have been back at band full time since spring break, and I am so grateful I was able to come back.  


My senior year was quite unique in that I not only missed out on a typical senior year due to the concussion, but also because of COVID-19. I will not say I made the best of it because I did not. I was depressed and angry, and my pessimistic view took away from the few moments I did get to experience. I was able to come back eventually, but I am honestly devastated I lost my senior year. 


Although I never thought my high school career would end like this, I have gained valuable life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, especially this fall when I start college. Here are a few things I learned: 


Take advantage of the time you get to be a kid


With all that I’ve learned and experienced, I wish I had taken my time to grow up. So many things happened to me at a young age, causing me to grow up quickly. These are the only years you get to truly be a kid; to do what you want when the stakes are lower. Letting loose doesn’t have to mean going to parties, but it can mean driving around for an hour blasting music with friends. Do something other than sit in your room and obsess over your future. You only have 18 years as a kid; four of them in high school — don’t waste them. 


Your mental health in high school does not have to define the rest of your life


I was at the lowest point of my life this year. Chronic pain goes hand-in-hand with depression, and with the combination of COVID-19, no senior year and everything else that was happening, I struggled significantly. 


Lean on those around you —  especially when you don’t see a way forward — and focus on yourself and what makes you happy. You will make it out. Struggling in high school does not mean you will struggle for the rest of your life — things will eventually get better as you grow, no matter how scary and bleak the future may seem. 


Appreciate the little things


As you finish out high school, take time to appreciate the little things. I didn’t know that my last day at lunch with my friends would be March 12, 2020. I miss sitting at lunch with my friends in the 1500 hallway nearly every day.  


Appreciate having pep rallies before football games, appreciate walking to class with your friends and appreciate going to school like a normal high schooler. I haven’t had a normal school day since my junior year, and I’m about to be a freshman in college. So many memories and experiences have been taken from me this past year, and I have grown to appreciate the little things that make high school special, as much as it might also suck. 


Although my senior year was less than spectacular, I would not have made it through this year without the friends, family and teachers that supported me, so thank you to everyone who helped me. Here’s to the memories and driving safe.