Seniors Take a Walk through a Winter Wonderland


The cold breeze makes you hug your jacket closer around your body as you wait in the never-ending line to get inside the courtyard. As you step through the door, flashing your bright ocean blue wristband to faculty, you’re bombarded by a shower of fizzling snow from the window, creating the illusion of snow. Your eyes dart all over taking in the scene before you. The endless crowd of seniors fill the area as they stand in long lines awaiting their holiday-themed snacks, cheesy pizza, buttery popcorn, and steaming hot chocolate. With your cup in one hand, a slipped plate in the other and a snowman-themed cake pop stuffed in your pocket,  you head over to the blankets spread out on the ground in the center and get situated with your friends. The shimmering Christmas lights wrap around the trees as inflatable decorations are scattered around the field. As the sun starts setting and the darkness covers the yard, the movie starts playing in the background as you relax and enjoy your first and last Winter Wonderland event as a graduating senior. 

Submitting an early application to college as a Francis Lewis senior allowed students to take part in the Winter Wonderland event on December 8. Seniors enjoyed the rewards of all their hard work over the past four years as they spent time with their friends, classmates, and peers, eating snacks and watching a movie in the courtyard. 

‘Well, I think that what it does is it excites them for what’s going on for the rest of the year, ” Assistant Principal of Guidance Ms. Zacco said. “This year we started with the haunted house. That was the first year we’ve ever done it. So we just want to try to do event after event just to get the seniors motivated and to make a wonderful senior year.”

“That’s more important than anything,” Ms. Zacco said.  “We want seniors to know that we appreciate them and that we want to have them enjoy everything that’s going on.  Now that they’re kind of taking it a little bit easier than they would’ve last year, they get to really enjoy it, especially with all the craziness from the last couple of years.” 

In order for Francis Lewis seniors to be allowed into the Winter Wonderland event, they must have already completed their college applications. Teachers and school officials believe that the event will motivate seniors to complete their college applications early, which only benefits them in the future.

“What we found is the earlier you do your applications, you find out sooner, especially if you take part in early action and early decision, “ Ms. Zacco said.  “A lot of kids who do early action, early decision — first of all, early decision is different than early action, which I won’t even get into the explanation — but the kids will know by December 1. Some of these kids already know where they are going.” 

“It’s better to get that off your back instead of waiting until March,” Ms. Zacco added.  “The earlier you start, they start looking at applications right off the bat. So you don’t want to be the last kid when they’re already done.” 

With all the various options students are provided with, deciding on which colleges to apply to requires much consideration and thought based on different aspects 

“Narrowing down which colleges I did want to apply for versus which ones I was just considering at a thought process moment,“ senior Sasha Wald said. “Which ones would accept me based on my GPA and SAT  scores, as well as  which is going to be more convenient travel-wise, because I don’t drive. So I’d have to take public transportation.”

For most students, the college application process is very challenging and thought consuming, thus college and guidance counselors are there to assist them through the process.

The advice is that they’re not alone,” guidance counselor Mr. Verastegui said.  “The college application process is definitely anxious and a high stress time, but they’re not alone. They always have support from their family or let’s say, you know, maybe the family members or siblings don’t, are not too aware of it. They can always come to a counselor, a guidance counselor or a college counselor to give them further guidance.”

Even before senior year, guidance counselors encourage students to inform themselves of this process and their options to prepare them better for what is to come.

 “As soon as they get into the building, I like to make them aware of the CUNY admissions profile and the SUNY admissions profile, for them to search some colleges, and to get some information on college search engines, just to look up some universities,” Mr. Verastegui said.  “By the beginning of junior year, then I’m asking a little more questions, such as think about five colleges you want to apply to.”

When applying to their future colleges, seniors had to think about the steps they needed to complete throughout the process. 

“I first tried to acknowledge what college I was interested in,” senior Sabrina Hafiz said. “Then I decided how much it’d be financially if I had financial aid and all that good stuff. Also, trying to figure out the different classes.”

After almost four years of high school’s ups and downs, seniors are able to provide insight and advice to underclassmen from their own personal experience.

“Don’t stress yourself out too much,” Wald said.  “I know it’s a difficult process. I know it’s going to be stressful because you have the pressure of your parents, school and your own self, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself so that you make yourself sick. At the end of the day, you’re still technically a kid, so you just gotta have fun sometimes.”