According to my older sister, a little over eleven years ago, when she celebrated her “golden birthday” (turning 10 on Feb. 10) with a special sleepover party, I looked at her, crestfallen. 

“I can’t believe I have to wait until I’m eighteen to have my golden birthday. That’s forever away.”

When I think about this conversation, I can’t help but smile. Not just because of the way my sister perfectly replicated a 7-year-old’s whiny tone when she recounted the memory, but because today I turn 18 on Feb. 18, and it came in the blink of an eye.

I’ve always loved February. February is full of so many things to celebrate: birthdays, snow days, Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. 

The Black History Month citywide celebrations in UA include events and artwork that honor Black heroes and Black culture. The celebrations remind us to step away from the Eurocentric curriculum that has dominated school districts across the country and think about how we are learning about Black culture, and the cultures of all identities, year-round. 

28 days are not enough. I hope you soak up the trivia, exhibitions, guest speakers and movie screenings that will be on display this month, but I also hope that you choose books, businesses and media by Black creators all year. I hope you have conversations with your peers about history and identity regularly and seek out the perspectives of people with different identities than your own. You have the power to shape your education, both at UAHS and as a lifelong learner.

As I enter adulthood, I don’t feel very different. I still don’t know where I am going to college, and I still engage with the same classes and extracurricular activities that I have all year. But I am planning on seeking advice about adult things (like finances and moving away) and leaning into a new sense of independence. Although things don’t feel very different now, in a few months, everything will change.