Finding a home in Libertyville


Sarah Wuh

Senior Rayna Wuh has learned to embrace her identity as an LHS Wildcat after moving to Libertyville with her family in August. She moved from New Jersey, where her school colors were green and gold.

My earliest images of high school came from Disney Channel original movies like “High School Musical,” “Princess Protection Program” and “Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior.” I have no older siblings, so I had no idea what to expect. By the time I entered high school at West Windsor Plainsboro High School South in central New Jersey, what I had built up in my head was nowhere near the reality. 

It’s worth mentioning that the school I attended prior to LHS was not like most U.S. public high schools. The school has a diverse student body, 71 percent of students are of an ethnic minority, an open layout with wall-less classes and a pool encased in a bubble.

However, this is not what made high school feel so different from what I had imagined as a kid. The shortage of school spirit, the lackluster football program that needed to combine with that of the other school within the district just to survive, and minimal turnout to dances like homecoming (outside of the students who organized the event) are what came as a surprise.

Nevertheless, I came to love everything about it, from the extensive academic and extracurricular opportunities to my close and lasting friendships. I took pride in the school’s many quirks. When faced with the prospect of moving the summer before my senior year, I lamented the loss of the new vision of high school that I had formed after three years of wonderful experiences.

Walking into halls covered in glitter and silly string for the first day of my senior year at LHS, I felt just as clueless as I was freshman year. Surrounded by an environment that felt unfamiliar, I was tempted to push away anything that was not part of my original plan. Even when participating in the same activities I had been doing for years, I could not shake the feeling that something was off.

However, as time passed, I found Libertyville harder and harder to disregard. Everywhere I went, I was met with unconditional kindness. Teachers, students, staff members, nearly every person I encountered went to great lengths just to make my transition smoother. As a result, I found myself more willing than ever to try new things. This includes my involvement with Drops of Ink.

The entire week of homecoming was especially surreal. The massive wave of school spirit, window painting, a jam-packed student section at the football game, the parade, the extensive selection process for the queen and court, long dresses worn by upperclassmen, a dance consisting of one giant mosh pit—every tradition was virtually new to me. Homecoming being a town-wide event sharply contrasted from my old school where it was more of an afterthought. I felt transported to the very movies that I had grown up watching, all the way down to the wildcat mascot. 

Before moving, my family and I had all but chosen another high school in the North Shore area based on our research. However, prior to making the final decision, we visited LHS to make sure we were certain in our decision and it is lucky that we did. It seems that families that move to Libertyville have a tendency to stay here, and I am not surprised as to why. The community’s resultant love and support for the school consistently amazes me.

Within the school itself, between Learning Support Teams, the College and Career Resource Center, and members of administration that not only value, but also actively seek out input from the student body, I have never felt more heard. Teachers genuinely care for students’ growth inside and outside of the classroom. The number of niche classes offered ranging from glass art to automotive technology supports a number of student interests and exploration. 

Although there is no way for me to know whether I am better or worse off after my move, I have come to realize that that does not matter. I completely understand that when it feels like everything is changing, it is natural to default to disappointment and get caught up in the plans or excitement that go unmet. There are still days when I struggle to accept the effects of my move. However, I have found that distancing myself from my own preconceived notions has allowed me to appreciate things for the way they are.

It took time, but I can certainly say that I have found a home in Libertyville.