Harlie Hacecky

When you’re little, everyone says the sky’s the limit. So, as a child, you dream of doing the extraordinary such as traveling to Pluto or becoming the next princess. I was guilty of the latter.

My name is Harlie Hacecky, and I’m a senior at Yankton High School. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun, and even more unbelievable to see how my fellow students and I changed over the years.

As I’m preparing for my graduation and attempting to decipher God’s plan for my future, I can’t help but look back on my last four years and the lessons I’ve learned.

Freshman Year

I remember the day before I started freshman year. After watching countless movies about high school such as Mean Girls, I was more than a little nervous! What if I got lost, walked into the wrong classroom, or sat at the wrong lunch table? Then, there’s the irrational fear that I will be jammed into a locker or pushed into a toilet-- You can thank Hollywood for those ideas!

But, I was also hopeful that high school was going to be the best change for me. As a child who was bullied, I hoped high school would be a fresh start.

I planned to join numerous activities and desired to find a group of friends which I belonged. I continued in my chosen sport of golf, joined The Cellar Door Magazine (art magazine), and became a member of the school newspaper.

But as everyone says, high school is a jungle. You still have your stereotypical popular, athlete, and nerd social circles. You still feel out of place when surrounded by the other social groups, and sometimes you feel like you’re under a microscope just waiting for someone to prod at you.

Sadly, bullying still occurs in high school. I’ve seen it, but the one thing that changed was I grew confident. I realized, I loved who I was, and if someone felt differently, it was their prerogative.

I branched out, met new people, and began to thrive.

Sophomore Year

The great thing about high school, is you can be friends with people from different grades.

My greatest friends are actually a grade below me. I’m fortunate that they never judge me, and instead laugh along with me. I can tell them anything and know my secrets are safe. They support my dreams and understand all my fears.

And on top of those fabulous friends, I learned that friendships can bloom with people you may least expect. High school pushed me into a class of over two hundred people with many different ethnicities, religions, genders etc. It’s because of this new experience that I grew to greatly appreciate every culture, and it reiterated my belief of treating everyone as you’d want to be treated.

My next new experience was, as a sixteen year old, I had the monumental step of gaining the privilege to drive without a set curfew. Oh, but don’t worry. Mom and Dad still set one… darn!

Junior Year

Junior year is the halfway mark. You are so close to the finish line, but you’re not close enough. You can taste the senior privileges that are just out of your grasp!

As a student, you come to find that each school year goes faster and faster, and that becomes a problem for some when you feel overloaded.

For starters, you have the daunting task of taking the ACT and praying to God you get the score you’re looking for, scheduling college visits, and exploring different career options.

I was fortunate that I desired to know my future major before senior year. I began shadowing and enhancing my resume in the event I chose the medical field. I also joined the school Health Occupation Students of America club (HOSA) and have been their president for two years!

But just because you have a plan doesn’t mean it’s God’s plan as well. All my shadowing just seemed to push my career ideas onto the back burner, and that is terrifying.

You begin to wonder, what else can I possibly do? What career works with my aspirations and personality?

Your mind begins to spin with all these upcoming and monumental decisions, and it only spins faster when you realize you have one year to figure it out.

Talk about scary!

Senior Year


And now, time’s up! It’s senior year! All the privileges you couldn’t grasp last year are now placed in your lap!

I finally get to sit in the front at football and basketball games! Instead of watching the previous seniors cut in the lunch line to get food, I get to do that!

But, with privileges comes nostalgia because now begins your lasts. Last football game. Last newspaper article. Last prom and winter formal. Last homecoming celebration.

You begin to treasure every moment, in the same way your parents are. My mom has come close to tears quite a few times as she realizes I’m eighteen now. It breaks my heart, and I know without a doubt she’ll cry as I walk up the graduation isle.

I remember the night my mom texted me and said she ordered my graduation tables. The text was filled with crying emojis, and I couldn’t agree more with her! Fun fact that everyone neglects to tell you: graduations are a ton of work! You have to plan the food, make a guest list, decorate, and personally address every invite.

What’s shocking about senior year is everyone grows up. You see different social groups mingling and bullying subsiding. I now walk into school with students who are popular, nerdy, or even those who criticized me over the years.

This only invokes hope in my heart for college. I’ve heard the rumors that stereotypical groups don’t exist so much after high school. I’m ecstatic to meet new people and begin another chapter!

I’ve decided to attend Mount Marty College (MMC) in Yankton. I love my friendly community and found the small campus, welcoming teachers, and faith base very reassuring. MMC also has two stellar programs for the majors I’m considering: teaching and nursing.

I’m fearful I may choose the wrong major and have to switch some day. I’m also uneasy about being in debt. Not many students think the same way I am, but having a dollar sign over my head is not comforting!

All the same fears I had as a freshman in high school are

coming up again as I prepare for college. Will it be difficult to meet new people? What if I go in the wrong room? What if I get lost? But, at least now the irrational Hollywood fears are gone!


College is a monumental step, but I know I’ll make it through with my marvelous support system including my friends, community, and my phenomenal family.

Reality is starting to set in as I realize I won’t be able to watch Fast and Furious and White House Down nightly with my Dad, groan everytime my Mom watches the same Hallmark Christmas movies over and over again, or fight with my brother for the last chocolate chip pancake!

My point is, growing up is incredible and terrifying at the same time, but I’m ready for the challenge. And as I walk down the graduation isle with diploma in hand, I know I’ll never truly be alone, because I have enough love and support to last a lifetime.