Junior Year Reflections, My Personal Story


JuJu Vieth

“Wait! Jerell, don’t move!” Photography student JuJu Vieth yells at Jerell McCole as he stands in a stream of light in the Sun Theatre Mezzanine. The annual art show on April 23 continued around them. Vieth posed McCole so the light fell on his face.”Oh my god, this is so awkward!” McCole says as he stands there getting his picture taken.

Jerell McCole, Web Editor-in-Chief

While the school year quickly comes to an end, I decide to sit back and reflect. As a result of this article, I hope it will give me closure and strengthen the support given to me by my wonderful peers, their families, and the people I hold dear to me, my family. So, here it goes! Read on, and see how badly this school year has beaten me up.

Walking into my junior year I didn’t know what to expect. First of all, a couple of weeks before school started, I was put on punishment for the months of August to December. I couldn’t go anywhere, didn’t have access to social media accounts, or text. On the bright side, my friends could still come over and I could speak on the phone.

One thing I notice about myself while I was on punishment, is that I do not get into trouble often, but when I do, I mess up big time! (What I did to become a prisoner in my own home is neither here nor there.) Not having access to my phone was a little challenging because I still had it with me all the time. So parents, if you’re reading this, listen to me closely! If you are going to take away your child’s phone privileges and still allow them to  have their phone, please think twice. For one, in my opinion, it’s child abuse and one hundred percent torture. Second, never trust a rebellious teenager, as that is one of our main jobs.

Being on punishment was the easy part of my junior year. Here’s the kicker: my grandfather quickly grew ill. It seems as though he was being rushed to the hospital every other week. Every time he went, we noticed that he was getting a little worse than the last time. My grandfather was confined to a wheelchair and had been since I was two years old. Growing up living with him, he always seemed to be in high spirits. His sense of humor was ridiculous! He would laugh at his own jokes so hard that he would cry, which was funny in itself. Can you just imagine a 63 year old man falling over in laughter with tears? My grandfather was one of the reasons why I pushed myself.

He would always say, “I may be in a wheelchair, but I’m still a man,” which was usually followed by threatening to throw someone out a window. My grandfather was the definition of a man. He raised me, pushed me to be great, and was always there when I needed him. He wasn’t perfect, but he loved his family unconditionally and I loved him the same.

In November, the doctors told us that there was nothing else that they could do for him, so they sent him home on hospice. We as a family didn’t want him dying in a hospital bed. My grandmother, his wife of 40 plus years, wanted him to feel comfortable. We knew that the only way to make his passing easier on all of us was to lay him to rest in the house that he worked and paid for. Days before his passing I wanted to be there, so I moved back in. I blocked all emotions; mentally I was broken, scared, lonely, and unprepared to see life slip away from my very eyes.

The house grew uneasy. The feeling of death held the floor boards together and we were on high alert. We moved my grandparents into my old room and my grandma slept in the bed next to his. Every movement and every sound made my heart stop. I was ready for the moment, I was ready for his last breath, but day after day he held on. After a while I became depressed. I grew more and more unhappy. As his life slowly slipped away, so did all the joy I had in the world. Being 16, I was dealing with something that mentally I couldn’t handle.

On November 5th, I came home from school and something seemed odd. My grandmother and I both knew that my grandfather’s health had taken a turn for the worse. We stayed up until midnight that night watching for the slightest movement, listening for the slightest breath, but everything seemed still. The device, placed in his chest months before, that kept his heart beating caused his chest to move, the only movement. These movements in his chest did not seem as though they were natural breaths. They did not seem to be strong heart beats either. As this continued I decided to go to bed. A couple of hours later, I got a phone call while I was in my room. She told me that my grandfather had passed, and to come upstairs to say goodbye.

While all of this was going on, I was still going to school, trying to manage my teenage life, and deal with depression. It became hard and my grades suffered. I learned that in most of my classes I had a grade of a “D”. Embarrassed of myself, I became sick due to stress. My temper and mental capacity grew short. In all honesty, I wanted to give up. I did not want anything to do with school or the people in it. Naturally I wanted to feel like I was worth something.

Being a teenager, the need for acceptance is at its all time high at this stage of our development. At this point, I felt like I had no one, and in reality, I had so much support and love surrounding me! My sadness was so strong I tried to push everyone away. I wanted people to be there for me, but at the same time I couldn’t bare to hold conversations. I forced myself to open my mouth and speak, I glued a smile on my face and pretended to be strong. After a while, life became easier.

In December, I pushed to become my normal self again. Junior year is one of the most important years of high school, and half of my year was basically destroyed. Going to college is a must for me and that dream was put at risk. Mentally at war with myself, I pulled myself together, pulled my grades back up, and slowly my joy came back. I still had my moments of sadness but I did not let it hold me back.

Today, I am as happy as I could be! I wrote this because if you are someone that is suffering from depression, pain, or is hurting, everything will be ok. All of us go through dark patches in life that make us want to give up, but I am a real example that it does get better. Seeing me in the hallways you may not have noticed, but I was right where you are today. Your life is an unfinished book and you can change the direction and create your own ending. It’s okay to seek help; never suffer in silence. If you don’t take away anything else from this article, take this: there is someone who is out there looking forward to seeing you smile!