The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

My dreaded, but also rewarding, junior year

Elle Menke (Mount Carmel Social Media)
42 juniors were inducted into the Elysian Chapter of the National Honor Society this year. The application process requires students to write an essay, ask teachers for multiple letters of recommendation, and hand in a resume. It’s a perfect example of why junior year can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time for students.

I remember letting out a sigh of relief on the way home from my first day of my sophomore year. 

A senior at the time was giving me a ride to and from school and explained to me that the upcoming school year would be a breeze, but junior year would be a lot more difficult. I quickly shoved the overall idea of even being a junior in the back of my mind and proceeded to go about my sophomore year.

Then August of 2023 came around, and it was time for me to start my junior year. I felt a sense of more responsibility and leadership, but at the same time felt more stress and dealt with more difficulty in and out of the classroom. I took harder classes and was looked at as an upperclassmen that could be a leader in certain aspects. 

Now that I only have a few weeks until school gets out and then I’ll be going into my senior year, I can look back at these difficulties but also realize the rewards that came from them. 

Junior year has been the hardest one yet for me because varsity sports demanded more of my time, I was expected to be a leader of the school, and my classes were noticeably more difficult than the ones I took my freshman and sophomore year. 

In my first two years at Mount Carmel, I played on a few varsity golf events and was pulled up to the varsity roster as a sophomore towards the end of the volleyball season. 

However, this was the first year that I experienced being a full time varsity player. More of my time and effort was demanded by coaches, and I’m not the only one that feels this way. 

“I absolutely love football here at MC,” says junior offensive lineman Tommy Lebel. “This was my first year on varsity and practices were definitely harder. Combining that harder schedule with school and a social life made this year difficult for sure.”

While practices may have started later in the day for some programs, and were most likely more difficult, it all worked out in the end. 

“Winning a state championship for football was incredible,” says Lebel. “I feel like it really paid off for all the practices and games we went to.”

Lebel and other members of the football team aren’t the only athletes that feel this way. 

“Things got harder with varsity sports,” says junior soccer player John Justic. “But the wins on varsity felt a lot more earned than the ones on JV. The game got faster and the competition got better.”

I played on the varsity golf team this past fall, and while I didn’t go down state with the rest of the team, practicing with the six guys who did made their accomplishment of placing third feel closer to home for me. I felt like I contributed my time, skills, and overall presence as a varsity player. 

I also played volleyball this year. Like golf, I’ve been a part of the program since I was a freshman, but I saw the court a lot more than I did when I was on JV my first two years. 

Our season isn’t over, and we have a shot at playing for the regional championship next week, so I feel very accomplished that I helped in at least some way to get the team to where it is today. 

Sports aren’t the only thing that got more difficult this year. Perhaps the most important factor as to why junior year can be so difficult is because one is expected to be an upperclassmen leader of the school. 

Watching others do it when you’re an underclassmen is pretty simple, but doing it yourself isn’t so easy at first. 

“The hardest part about this year was just being consistent,” says junior Ryan Clark. “There’s sports, homework, relationships, and a lot more that just comes up everyday, but on top of that I have to be a leader for the young guys coming in.”

Like many other juniors, Clark and I became Peer Leaders this year. This meant that one of the many things we were expected to do this school year was to reach out to freshmen and sophomores that are still curious about what MC and the brotherhood has to offer. 

We found our footing in our first two years, so it was time for us to help out guys who were in the same situations we were in one to two years ago. 

“It can be difficult, but definitely rewarding when I help a freshman or sophomore find their place here,” says Clark. 

Before I became a junior, I was unsure of how being a peer leader or on a varsity roster would affect me at MC, but I definitely knew how my academic schedule would. 

In my freshman and sophomore years, it seemed as if all the upperclassmen could talk about was how difficult their classes were when they were asked about their junior year. 

Now that I’ve almost completed all three trimesters, I know why. 

“This year was harder because we had more homework and took more AP classes,” said junior Erik Sanchez. “Once they threw physics and a ton of English essays in there, I knew it was going to be bad.”

While taking harder classes and more AP tests was not as enjoyable as taking other classes my first two years, I now feel a sense of pride that I got through it. 

If junior year wasn’t more difficult than earlier years academics wise, then it wouldn’t really make sense. Overall, the goal for most students is to be prepared for college, and now that I’ve almost completed these harder classes, I definitely feel more prepared. 

Junior year was something I once dreaded, but now look back on as one of the most important and rewarding years not only in high school, but of my life. 

I have absolutely no idea how difficult senior year will be, but I’m ready for one final challenge. If it’s anything like this year, I think I’ll be alright, and might even be excited for it. 

After all, if my classmates and I aren’t caring to struggle and work at it, we’re not doing it the MC way. 

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About the Contributor
Matthew Malloy ‘25
Matthew Malloy ‘25, Staff Writer
Matthew Malloy is a junior at Mount Carmel High School. He resides in the Southside of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood and attended St. John Fisher Elementary School. Matt is currently a member of the student council, The Merchant, varsity golf team, varsity volleyball team, and the Caravan Media Group in which he is the play by play announcer for all home football and basketball games. As for academics, Matt is in the top 10 for the class of 2025. He first gained interest for journalism by watching ESPN’s College GameDay and reading The Beverly Review. His favorite sports commentators are Dick Vitale, Gus Johnson, Ray Clay, and Jim Nantz. As for favorite sports teams, Matt likes the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Manchester United F.C., Chicago Bears, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and his favorite golfers are John Daly, Bryson DeChambeau, and Collin Morikawa. His favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his favorite album is The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Matt’s favorite movies are Goodfellas and Asteroid City while The Office, Freaks and Geeks, and Friday Night Lights are his favorite TV shows. He and his cousins are continuing the tradition and legacy of the O’Connor family at Mount Carmel as he is the nephew of Dan O’Connor ‘95 and grandson of Frank O’Connor ‘61 and Kathy O’Connor, who works in the spirit store and is an avid supporter of Mount Carmel.