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  • Writer's pictureKara

Back To School

Dear Students,

I'm so sorry for the unexpected changes you all have had to face over the past month and what you will continue to face as you move through the end of the school year. As some students might be elated to be home during this time, others are devastated over the reality of not attending prom, graduation, or grad night. Some might be scared of being home as school was the only safe space for them. These are weird times. Everyone is experiencing something different, but at a core level, we are all in this together.

My mom works as an instructional aide at Santa Ynez High School. This is the same high school I attended and graduated from in 2006. We are currently self-isolating together. One of the many things I appreciate more about her during this time is the continued effort she puts into her work. Showing up to her zoom meetings and completing the homework following each class. We even drove out to the high school yesterday to pick up a math packet for her.

While we walked the halls, I asked her to show me her route. As she pointed out where her classes were, I showed her where mine had been. So many changes were made to the school since I graduated, both structural and to the interior team of teachers and staff. I started to think about the current students and what their high school experience has been like. Although I have some great memories from high school, I did not enjoy it. I was a confused teen who felt like I had to have my entire life planned out by the end of my senior year. Most of my subjects made no sense to me and I didn't get the help I needed. There were times I reached out to teachers and counselors but I wasn't heard. My ability to self-advocate was shut down until recently.

Walking the halls and snapping photos of a place I once hated, I felt my feelings transmute into love and appreciation for a place that gave to me so much opportunity. I wish I had taken advantage of the many creative outlets they offered, such as drama and art. Not being heard at that age created insecurities which led me to hold in my feelings and not express myself in healthy ways. At 32, I have finally figured out I am not the academic type. I'm a creative learner. Many times though I still feel like that confused teenager.

I wanted to offer my email to anyone who needs someone to talk to. I know what it's like to feel so much inside and not have anyone to reach out to. Feel free to say hi.

The poem below was written after I came home yesterday from the high school.

It felt so good being there

Walking around the campus

Appreciating what went unnoticed before

Feeling nostalgic for a time that's past

It brought me back to my time as a student

The good memories as well as those I'd like to forget

They live on in memory but my feelings for the terrible times have changed

Just as I have adapted over the years

So has the school, expanding and growing

It's been 14 years since I graduated from high school

That's two seven-year cycles of reshaping, both internally and externally

Now as I begin a new cycle, I walk with confidence.

I walk knowing that I'm doing my best

I'm embarking on the journey of my life

These photos will also be shared on my Instagram account. @earthandspiritphotography

All the best,


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