By Abby Paterson--Eagle Staff Writer
It’s been about eight months since the senior class of 2022 graduated from high school and moved on to the next stage of their lives. Coming out of high school is a big advancement to make, as it is often the first time that young adults experience true freedom, both from their former obligations and their comfort zone. With the class of 2023 facing this same transition in just four months, their predecessors shared the highs, lows, and unexpected changes of life out of high school
Jocelyn Routt is currently a student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which she hoped would happen while still in high school, and still seems satisfied with. For Routt, majoring in communications showed her that she one day hopes to become a news reporter.
“These plans have only become more beneficial and clear as to what I want to do with my life,” she added. “Now, I have a declared minor in Broadcasting media! Huge shoutout to the TV production program at FCHS.”
Leaving home, Routt found that her struggles in adulthood have resulted in new and thrilling experiences.
“I would say my parents prepared me well for adulthood, but college is a whole different ball game,” she said. “I have learned to adjust! It hasn’t been the easiest transition, but it’s been so full of adventures and seeing so much amazing diversity!”
While adult life has plenty of cons to follow the pros, it seems that the latter outweighs the former.
“My first year out of [high school] has been everything I’ve ever wanted and more. The amount of friendships created and watching myself and others around me grow into their full potential is amazing! The biggest shock I’ve experienced is how many services and opportunities there are to get involved in college,” she shared. “Whether that’s Greek life, clubs, sports teams, [or] workout classes at UREC, everything I need is only a 10-minute walk from me.”
Unlike Routt, Triston Adams has stayed in the county since graduation.
“My current occupation is [a] deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “My plans were to be a firefighter or police officer, they have not changed. I am very satisfied and can’t wait for what’s in the future. My ultimate goals are to continue with what I’m doing, with hopes to get married and start a family.”
Even though his adult life is one without college, Adams still found similar benefits to life after high school compared to Routt.
“The biggest shock is the independence that comes with being an adult,” he added. “My favorite part is being able to do whatever I want.”
By staying in the county after graduation, Adams already had a community built around him, so instead of a transition where he built a new community, he's instead transitioned into a community hero, not just a member.
“I get to have memories giving back to the community by helping others every day,” Adams said.
One of Adams' previous classmates, Eve Plaster, is currently a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Her plans have since shifted from the beginning of the school year, but she is reportedly taking it in stride and continuing on her track.
“My plans were to major in criminal justice with a crime scene investigation focus,” she explained. “But now, my plans are changing. Currently in the works for next year, I’m planning to switch majors to interior design.”
Despite her major change, Plaster is still pleased with her choice of university.
“I love VCU. At first, it took a little getting used to, as I’m sure any person going to college would say,” Plaster added. “Mainly, it was just because almost nobody from FC went there from my class, so I knew almost no one, and it is in the city. But, once I found people I fell in love with it and wouldn’t change anything as of right now. College was lowkey like it is in the movies for me once I started making friends and going out.”
Regardless of the initial uneasiness she felt when leaving her comfort zone, Plaster gave the impression that she has fully adapted to college life. With her experience, she gave some words of encouragement to upcoming graduates.
“Advice that I would give to the class of 2023 is just to stay positive,” she said. “Even when life gives you hard situations, just be strong and know it’s a learning experience.”
Another not taking a traditional course is Ryan Largen, who is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida to become a pilot. Aeronautical studies is a path only few take, and the memories that come along with it are equally uncommon.
“My favorite memory since graduating would have to be the day I soloed an airplane for the first time,” he recalled, “being up in the air by yourself is an entirely different feeling.”
Consistent with the other graduates, his highlights of adult life have involved the forging of new friendships.
“The best part of adulthood would be the relationships I’ve made,” Largen added. “Going out on weekend trips to Miami or Orlando with all of your buddies and then dragging yourself back to campus on Monday to fly is unbeatable.”
When Largen still attended FCHS, he was active in school spirit events and a familiar face in the student section. Because of this, there are still aspects of high school that he misses.
“I miss seeing my friends every day, walking to class cracking jokes, going to practice with some of my best friends, I miss all of it,” he said. “I do have to say, essentially starting life over has been fun, but you just can’t beat the friendships you’ve made throughout your life before graduation.”
Additionally, he mentioned the transition from dependency on family to the almost complete independence experienced day-to-day in adult life.
“The biggest adjustment you have to make is doing everything yourself,” he shared. “You don’t have Mom or Dad there to push you to get things done, the life you want to live is all up to your actions.”
Overall, these Franklin County graduates seem to be well-adjusted in their new ventures into adult society. The general consensus among them is that while it is hard to fully assimilate into the unfamiliar land that is adulthood, the payoff in freedom and new starts is enough to make the experience worthwhile.
“If there was any advice I could give to the class of 2023, it would simply be to embrace your senior year and be with your friends. Keep in touch with them! Take advantage of the opportunities life, college, and high school has given you! It will only be more helpful going into adult life," Routt concluded.