Senior Step Up

By Divya Gottiparthy

Turning 18 is a quintessential point in one’s life that signifies a transition from adolescence to adulthood. Not only is one known under federal law as a legal adult, but more often than not, one also gains a sense of independence as an individual. Age 18 is the milestone where liberties such as voting, driving, buying a lottery ticket, opening a credit card, being called for jury duty, signing a contract and skydiving are bestowed. Although these freedoms are exciting, there are a number of responsibilities that come with them.

Driving is one of those things that many people seek to achieve. The thrill of driving down to the beach or the local supermarket for a late night snack on one’s own time, without depending on another person, is exciting to many. Although one can obtain a driver’s permit as early as 16, a permit still requires driving experience in order to obtain the license. Eighteen is generally the age where, after two years of practice, new drivers are confident and ready to take the wheel themselves.

“I can do things on my own or with my friends, and it’s great to be independent. I am slightly nervous about the risks involved with driving, though," senior Amanda Fabilli said. "I would consider myself a pretty cautious person about accidents, and maneuvering a vehicle safely. But either way I am excited I get to drive and just enjoy these new responsibilities.”

Artwork by Saffah Azeem

As seniors turn 18, they unlock new opportunities such as voting and obtaining a driver's license.

For many seniors at NHP who have received their license, apart from the risks associated with operating a vehicle, there are many different things to consider. For one, fuel costs. Due to inflation in the recent months, gas prices have steadily been on the rise.

“While driving does open up a whole new world of freedom and independence, it also comes with a lot of problems, like gas prices and maintenance cost," senior Sydra Daniyal said. "In the recent months due to inflation, gas prices were way too high for frequent tank fills. All in all, driving is a process like no other and really forced me to think more about spending and the cost of daily travel.”

Apart from fuel cost, other expenses such as repairs, oil changes and high insurance rates also come into the picture, effectively making owning a car as a new driver a huge responsibility to undertake.

“Driving was one of the most challenging obstacles I had to overcome once I turned 16," senior Serena Sajumon said. "Not because I was very anxious when driving. New Yorkers are a little intense with driving, so you have to adapt to that environment. Gas prices are just insane. I gave up complaining and started looking at hybrid cars, but realized they have a lot of issues reliability wise. However, it is all a learning experience, and we learn through obstacles.”

While the vast majority of 18-year-olds are concerned with driving, voting is another privilege that many look forward to exercising. Having a voice in elections, choosing leaders and representatives who are going to stand for certain changes and policies is ideal for many young people.

“I am looking forward to voting in my first presidential election during 2024. It'll be nice since I’ll feel like my input and voice would matter, no matter the outcome,” senior Hanna Thomas said.

Being 18, the opportunity to vote for district-wide representatives and participate in the annual school district budget vote is also available. On May 17, 2022, the annual Sewanhaka Central High School District budget vote took place, where an allocation of $227.5 million dollars was proposed and approved for the year of 2022-2023. Students were encouraged to participate in the election, voice their opinions about certain policies, and immerse themselves in the process.

“Voting in local elections, although a bit underwhelming, is rewarding to see the possible contributions my vote has on the community and the developments made in the district and infrastructure,” senior Jessy Tomichan said.

Although it is not popular amongst young registered voters to vote in local or regional elections, the importance of voting in local elections is the direct influence it has on the community. With the 2022-2023 plan, much of the allocated spending is going towards the renovation of school facilities and the introduction of future-focused programs into the school curriculum.

Overall, turning 18 is an exciting milestone to pass, but students and parents must also take into account the counterbalance of responsibilities and risks that may come with it.