To my little sister on her first day of Senior Year —-

To my little sister on her first day of her senior year…

Here it is. Today is finally here – you’re officially a SENIOR! First off, congratulations for making it through eleven years of Valwood (at the top of your class I may add), and today will begin a new chapter, your final and twelfth year. Second, this year will go by faster than any year you’ve experienced so far, so here it is, from me to you – a few tips, tricks, memories, and secrets of how to survive, thrive, & make the most of the absolute best year of your life.


**FOREWARNING: Judy please grab your tissues now, we know how you get**

1- It’s time for the cliché, are you ready? DON’T BLINK. I know every adult will look at you this year and tell you how fast this year goes by, and if you’re anything like I was, you’ll politely smile but secretly roll your eyes & ignore the comment. They’re not lying. I can vouch for them all, senior year went by in the blink of an eye, and I’d do just about anything to go back to the halls of Valwood and relive being a senior just one more time. It sounds crazy, because at this point I’m sure you’re counting down the days until you’re “free” or so ready to be a college student so you can live on your own and start “adulting”. Don’t rush this, those things are all coming at lightning speed, whether you’re ready or not… And trust me, “adulting” isn’t all that it’s made up to be. So, don’t blink – take in every single second, every opportunity that comes your way. Find a date to every dance (even the ones not at Valwood), go all out for every day of Homecoming, tailgate for every football game, go to every party and every Senior event, make the Senior Haunted House epic, go on every trip, and take every chance to still be a kid and completely in the moment with your best friends.

2- Speaking of best friends, listen carefully to this one. You’ll find your high school friends that will be your rock. Everyone says you find your best friends and bridesmaids in college, but don’t overlook those friends who have been by your side, taken every class with you, helped you decorate your locker, played the same sport as you, and shared food with you at break every single day for the past twelve years. My two have been there since Pre-K & Eighth grade at Valwood, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I know they are both a phone call and four hour drive away at all times, and whenever I need them, they’re there. You may already know who yours are by now, or it may take another year and some reflection to find those special people who you know will stick around through thick and thin, but when you find them, hold on tight. If your class is anything like mine, you’re close. The Class of 2015 was my family for twelve years; for twelve years we worked and played together, fought with one another, loved one another, went on crazy adventures, played sports, hazed teachers, and pretty much had the time of our lives. I miss them and how we once were so much, so I beg you, enjoy them while they’re only a few lockers or parking spots away, because soon you’ll all be heading off to school all over the country. Include every person (it’s their senior years too), avoid the small school drama (whenever possible), laugh a lot, have house parties (you’ll miss them next year), and spend your time loving, not fighting.

3- Your SAT score doesn’t define you. Though in your case, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing? 😉 Everyone will panic and stress over the dreaded SAT and ACT, they’ll cry when their score is terrible and brag when their score is average or above. Take your SAT and ACT, take a deep breath, and move on. Colleges look at a lot of things on your application, and a bad or good SAT score has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. Take it from someone who took the SAT four times to finally get the coveted score she wanted (hallelujah & thank you Aunt Tisha – best SAT tutor ever), testing is hard and stressful, but in a couple of months will feel like a distant memory. I seriously can’t tell you a single question on my SAT or what my essay question was for the ACT. Sooner than you know, you’ll be a student at the school of your dreams and look back and wonder why you even stressed about little numbers adding up to a 2400 anyways. Yes, you’re a genius and have already killed the SAT once, but take my advice on this one – it is what it is, so let it be and don’t stress it.

4- Okay maybe stop reading for this one, Mom? Just kidding, but really, have fun. I’m not saying go crazy, skip class, and blow your grades – DEFINITELY DON’T do that. But stay out late, go to the cabin parties, have a blast at the lakes, choose your friends always, and break curfew a time or two. Your smart, you know when grades and tests matter, but don’t let that consume your last year. Take chances and be adventurous, do all those “Senior Things” you only dreamed about last year. Kiss all the boys, be friendly with all the kids at the other schools (how I found 3 of my best friends), and just go for it. Don’t be afraid to let your wild side show a little bit and loosen up and have some fun. This is yall’s time, you’re officially the superheros of the school, use that and celebrate. Celebrate while you have time, before this year passes you by.

5- Following that one, don’t be stupid. Have fun and be wild, but know your limits and know who to trust. Always use the buddy system (you’ll really never stop using the buddy system), you never know when you’ll need a friend or some help, so avoid heading off by yourself at all costs. Don’t drink TOO much, and realize there is always always always a ride for you. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to never get in the car with someone who is intoxicated or behind the wheel while you’re drunk. Even if that guy or your girl friend says, “I’m fine, I’ve only had two beers.” DON’T. You have mom, Heather, Kyle, Dad, Josh, and Becca to come pick you up if this situation occurs, so utilize that and don’t be stupid. Hell, I’ll drive back from school to get you so just call first. Enjoy the time you have near your family, I’m only in Gainesville and miss them more than you know. Cherish living in the same house with Mom and Sunday breakfast with Dad, the fact that you can drive to Heather’s and use her closet or call Grandma for lunch any day. These are luxuries, whether you realize it or not. These people are your life and may not be down the road from you next year, so don’t blow them off, include them in this huge, monumental year. Like I said, you’re a smart girl, so keep that up and don’t fall off the deep end, alright? 😉

6- This one is a big one, and a little harder for me than I care to show. IF you don’t get into the school of your dreams, it is okay. Don’t let this shatter your world. The worst disappointment and pain I’ve felt is my one –year deferral from the school of my dreams. I was filled with hate, and embarrassment, and so many emotions of how the world was unfair and not right. I was wrong. I got another year, a fresh start, and so much more with one simple deferral. I got to be rushed by my big sister, grow so much closer to my best friends from home, adopt a puppy, run out to the best letters on Bid Day, spend another year with my boyfriend, and be at home with the people I loved. It was truly a blessing in disguise that I would have never even known to wish for until it happened to me. Now I’m happily at that dream school, Go Gators, and I feel like it was all part of a bigger plan. If you are somehow, though very unlikely, deferred, denied, or even waitlisted from the school or schools of your dreams, do not let it bring you down. God has a plan, and whether you believe at the time or not, everything does happen for a reason. It will all make sense, just give it some time and a little bit of a chance.

7- Lastly – take lots of pictures. You’ll only regret the ones you don’t take. I am 99.9% positive that I took more pictures than half of my class combined, and I still feel like I missed major moments we all had. Take pictures of everything, everyone, every dance, and every trip. Take videos at the parties, you’ll laugh about them later, and never let a moment go by without a quick picture. Don’t be mean to mom when she takes a thousand pictures today and at Homecoming and Prom, and definitely Graduation. She’s earned that, so let her have it. Document it all, you’ll be glad you did. I love looking back at how happy and alive I was as a senior, surrounded by the people I loved, having the time of my life and feeling at home. Do the same, you won’t be sorry.


That about rounds up the sisterly advice when it comes to Senior Year, and don’t ever forget I’m only a phone call or FaceTime away when you need some more. Also, know that every Corey Smith song ever will be your best friend during senior year, they literally can all relate to a moment or feeling you’ll encounter this year, and you can sing along and enjoy the solace of someone else feeling the same way. You’ve got this, and I can’t wait to watch you absolutely kill it this year. The year is here, the world is yours, it’s finally your time – don’t be afraid, live every single second, and do your best to really take it in. I’m so proud of you and know this year will be the best one yet, and one you’ll hold in your heart for forever. Good luck senior girl, I love you always my Little Duck.

Your big sis, Hails

Keep scrolling for a little look back into the ancient history that is my experience as a senior with the class of 2015 !!

IMG_9743.jpghere’s to you! — & a little journey down memory lane



IMG_1031.jpghomecoming week… just do it

IMG_1573.jpgHomecoming Dance!

IMG_1341.jpgHomecoming Court with my lifelong friends.

IMG_2267.jpgMy family for twelve years.. on our best night, BEATING BROOKWOOD.

IMG_2139.jpgSenior Haunted House —> Welcome to Toyland 😉

IMG_1916.jpgTailgates & Friday Night Lights

IMG_2953.jpgthose cabin/house parties I may have mentioned…IMG_8624.jpgGRAD BASH @ Universal

IMG_5085.jpgSenior Night…. please take me back to the tennis court.

IMG_6368.jpgsenior pictures with your best friend >


IMG_8531.jpgColleges Day with our favorite Professor!


Jefferson Cup 2015 — my actual twelve year family

IMG_0235.jpgSenior Cruise – live it up!

IMG_9814.jpgThe End. It’s your turn now little one, do big things & make me proud xo

THANKS SM for reading guys!! Love you all & here’s to the seniors!

xx Hailee #HailsYeah

6 thoughts on “To my little sister on her first day of Senior Year —-

  1. Well this makes me want to cry. Wishing I could relive one more Friday night at Goddard, one more home basketball and softball game, and one more party at dads. I can honestly say I loved my high school career and all the memories that came with it!


  2. Hailee and Hope
    Hailee you are reliving your senior year through Hope and Hope I wish you a wonderful senior year and read and reread what your big sister Hailee wrote to you. It is so true and special.
    Love you so much. Love Grandma Joyce (August 9, 2017)


  3. So precious Hails and congratulations Hope on the beautiful and talented girl you have grown up to be! I can’t wait to watch you do big things just like your sisters, you have major shoes to follow after not one but two awesome older sisters. This is your time enjoy Hope:)


  4. How’d you get so smart, Hailee? Oh right, it runs in the family! 😀 ❤ Beautiful column, great advice! I love you both so much! – Aunt Tisha P.S. Hailee, only one “your” instead of “you’re” … can you find it? Xoxoxo


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