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Maddy Smith’s senior column

After four years of anticipation, I can finally review my high school journey.

My review of the recently concluded television series “The Trials and Tribulations of High School,” starring Madeline Smith. This series premiered in August of 2018 and the series finale will air on May 29, 2022. 

Season one: Freshman Year

Plot summary: SCENE ONE- AUGUST, CAR- The pilot opens with a young girl, about 14, sobbing violently in a car as it drives away from her hometown. She will be moving 667 miles away from anyone who knows or cares about her. With her family, of course. We are introduced to the main character Maddy and her family as they go through the journey of uprooting their lives and starting over. Maddy’s first challenge is joining her new soccer team. Here, we see the beginning of her tumultuous relationship with the sport, simultaneously loving the game and hating the anxiety it causes her. The next challenge is the start of the central plotline; high school. Maddy tries cross country, takes a videography course, and falls in love with journalism through the Foundations of Journalism class. The last shot features Maddy and some friends on the last day of school, eating lunch at Noodles and Co. to celebrate their freshman year as the camera pans out to the Iowa sunset. 

This season was an emotional rollercoaster. The audience members watch her struggle to get comfortable with her new surroundings and try to make new friends in a town that has a close community feel. As a viewer, I wish she would have put herself out there more and had a little fun.

I am looking forward to seeing where her newfound passion for journalism takes her. I am confident that this will be a central plot point moving forward. Next season we will get to see her interact more with her community after her year of getting comfortable. 

 

Season two: Sophomore Year

Plot summary: SCENE ONE – FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, MADDY’S ROOM- The scene opens with Maddy standing in front of the mirror, attempting to find a suitable outfit. This year she has big plans. With new friends by her side and slow-growing confidence, she plans to take the year by storm. Goal one: crush it in the classroom. We see her accomplish this as she takes challenging classes and involves herself in journalism, which brings her to her next goal: becoming a high school journalist. This goal will carry her through the year and force her to put herself in uncomfortable situations such as talking to strangers for interviews and standing on the sidelines at football games, trying not to get run over. These would prove to be some of her happiest memories. Her final goal: was to make the girl’s varsity soccer team. She succeeded in all goals except the last one, which was ruined due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling her season. The final episode consisted of her being told, on her birthday, that school was suspended for the foreseeable future. The season concludes with her submitting her final assignment from her bed, in sweatpants, in the middle of a pandemic. 

This season started out good for Maddy. She was finally beginning to feel comfortable in her new life in Iowa when the work turned upside down. She began to step out of her comfort zone by going to football games and making new connections through journalism. I wish she would have taken more opportunities and tried new things. We do see her try boxing and find a new passion. I wish she would have had the opportunity to continue. Hopefully, she will triumph through this pandemic. 

 

Season three: Junior Year

Plot summary: SCENE ONE- SUMMER, STARBUCKS-  This season begins with Maddy, now 16, working her first job. She is nannying and working at Starbucks. Despite the COVID restrictions, she is hanging out with her best friend and attempting to make the most of it. The school year starts online, the same way she will end it. The school was kind of a blur this season, just trying to keep a 4.0 and survive online classes. As the pandemic continues, we see Maddy connect more with herself and feel more comfortable with the person in the mirror. Her work for journalism continues, and she is awarded several honors for various articles and images, including protest coverage during the George Floyd protests and the following BLM movement. 

This season was kind of bland, consisting of stressful school work, fits of loneliness and self-discovery. Her creativity bloomed, writing artistic narratives and beginning the college application process. I look forward to the final season, Senior Year. 

 

Season four: Senior Year

Plot summary: Maddy begins her final year of high school in person with newfound confidence. She works diligently on her college applications, applying to way too many. And by too many I mean 23. Not the smartest decision. This season was filled with reflections on her time at West and dreams of her future. 

In this season, we see Maddy begin to grow into adulthood. She returned to boxing and made a new family in her gym. She finally chose to quit soccer, choosing to pursue hobbies that bring her more joy. She navigates a relationship and learns what she is looking for in a companion, and what she is looking for in herself. Journalism continues to be a driving force in her life, sending her to new events and soon, to college. This season was bittersweet as she has to face the fact that she, and all her friends, are growing up and moving on. This year was filled with a lot of fun nights, staying up too late and choosing to finally enjoy school instead of stress about it. 

Maddy’s future is uncertain and ever-changing. She will graduate in the final episode on May 29 and take a leap into the ‘real world’. Despite the anxiety centering around the change, she is ready. Her time at West, specifically her time in the West Side Story newsroom, has taught her a lot. She learned how to be responsible for her own deadlines, how to be resourceful and problem solve, how to approach delicate situations, and how to tell a really good story. Many thanks go out to Sara Whittaker for making this series so great, as well as to Katy Nahra, for being a great mentor and motivator. 

After four long years, it is time to graduate. So here’s to the future.

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