Senior Spotlight – LeJerwin Young

For anyone who attended school, the feelings of a year coming to an end have always been very specific.  Feelings of hope and sadness are in conflict during a time of transition.  The culminating moment of a school career is a student’s senior year of high school.  When that year ends, there is a sense of closure and finality.  There is no “next school year”.  It’s the closing of a door on a long chapter of an educational life.

For seniors in Haywood County Schools in the class of 2022, graduation marks the end of a journey that most likely began at Anderson Early Childhood Center and wound through Haywood Elementary, East Side, onto Haywood Middle School, and finally culminated at Haywood High School.  Students in HCS all attended the same schools at the same time and likely formed close friendships along the way.  This weekend at graduation, they will all be in the same place together one last time.

I sat down with three seniors during their last week as a Haywood Tomcat and talked with them about how they were feeling during this time of transition, what their fondest memories were of their time in HCS, and what their expectations for the future are.  First up in this series is LeJerwin Young.  The full conversation can be found at this link.

LeJerwin Young is feeling some Jekyll and Hyde emotions during his last week as a high school senior.  He’s waited all year for this moment, but now he’s feeling things he didn’t expect.

“I’m excited mostly, but I’m also very sad to be leaving.  This whole year I’ve had the worst case of senior-itis – I’ve just been counting the days until I could leave – but this week has been very bittersweet to me,” he said.

The end of a senior year in high school is unlike any other.  It’s the culmination of thirteen years of education where experiences ranged from happy to sad and back again.  Friendships were made and lost and built back.  In Haywood County Schools, most students attended school together for all thirteen years – Kindergarten through Senior year.  The closing of this door isn’t always easy.

LeJerwin will be traveling to the other side of Tennessee to attend college at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga where he will major in Biology.  As a student at Haywood High School, Lejerwin was involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I really got involved in a lot more things this year as a senior.  I was in the play and in the show choir.  I was in FFA and on the student council,” he explained.  “I got into theater in the tenth grade.  I had always been interested in it, but was too afraid to join in my freshman year.” 

What gave LeJerwin the courage to take that leap, though, was something his mom told him and something that he’s leaning on now as he prepares for the next step in his life.

“I had to remember something my mom told me when I was young.  She told me to go ahead and feel the fear and then do it anyway.  So, I went ahead and just did it,” he said.  “ I’m very nervous about leaving Brownsville and going to Chattanooga.  It helps that I’ve experienced it a little bit already, though.  I’ve gone to the visitations and I’m going again in June for orientation.”

Before LeJerwin heads to UTC, though, he’s reflecting on his time in Haywood County Schools and what the people here have meant to him.

“I’ve grown up in Haywood County Schools – from Anderson to Haywood High.  Most of my early memories from school come from Ms. Dawn – she was the librarian at Haywood Elementary School.  We would watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate; we would read about Cinco De Mayo and celebrate different holidays like that,” he said.  “Middle school was an awkward time.  Middle school is a time when you’re trying to discover who you are as a person; it was just an awkward time, but I made it out.  I’m going to miss the whole environment of Haywood High School.  I’m going to miss seeing the same faces from years and years ago.  I’ve gone to school with the same people my whole life.”

Even as LeJerwin has been able to reflect on his time in HCS and his social evolution in high school, he is also looking forward to what this next phase of his life will bring.  

“I’m most excited about moving to a different town and experiencing life there.  My advisory teacher said something that I think about a lot.  She said, ‘You can learn a lot just from going to a new place and experiencing things for yourself.’  So, I’m taking that to heart,” he said.

At the end of his high school journey, reality has finally settled around LeJerwin and his friends – high school is officially coming to an end.  

“I was talking to my friends and we were all recognizing that this is our last week of school, and we were all feeling a lot about it,” he said.

If he could give his younger self some advice, it would be the same thing he’s likely telling himself now as he prepares to go to a brand new city.

“I’d tell my younger self to join more clubs and meet new people.  I’d tell my younger self to not be so afraid to explore new things,” he said.