Dear Zoe,


August of next year my younger sister Zoe Butler will be attending St. Teresa’s Academy. The following is a letter to her.

Dear Zoe,

I know that no matter what I say there will be no way to prepare you for the next four years, but as your big sister it is my job to offer you some advice for your career at the academy.

Freshman year: I want you to realize your time at St. Teresa’s will run out. So start documenting it. Also stay on your side of that stairs, don’t talk in silent study and make sure to become friends with Mrs. Berardi because she will become your rock. Your freshman year will be the furthest thing from what your time at this school will actually be like. It is a time to learn the chants, experience the feats and have your firsts that will eventually become the reasons why you could ever love a school so much. If I could, I would pay to have my first day in advisory again sitting in silence, the first time you fall on the stairs or have your skin stained from the paint you wore to the game before. The first time you realize the wonders that glitter can do, the first time you fail a math test and actually feel comfortable crying in front of the girls around you. The first time you forget your lunch and mom brings it up to school and you try to convince Mrs. Berardi that you didn’t have your phone out, you just knew the exact moment mom was walking into school by chance!

Sophomore year: don’t complain. I know it’s easy to find fault in anything, especially when you have to go to the same place and sit in the same classes day after day. Sophomore year I wasted so much time complaining about school work, teachers and meetings that took up my blessed lunch period. Respect your upperclassmen, worry about your math grade, and realize you are halfway finished. Also save the dead bugs from your biology project because I promise you will find a use for them.

Junior year: welcome to the life of an upperclassmen at the best school in the world. This is your prime, make sure you don’t waste it. This is the year you realize how amazing your grade is, even though deep down you probably knew it all along. This is the year you FINALLY realize you should put on lotion before painting yourself blue at a Sion game so you don’t look like you have a skin disease at school the next day. It’s the year you realize how you have the best friends in the world and couldn’t ask for anything else. It is the year you realize how annoying you were as a freshman, the places your mind will wander on the science part of the ACT and mom actually will say no to bringing you a lunch to school.

Senior year: nothing feels real. You’re applying for all these colleges, attempting to live in all these places so different from home. It’s such a stressful process that you become numb to the reality of it: you are getting ready to leave everything you know to start a new life. This is it, start breathing it in now because the time is about to run out.

This is the year you realize all you want to do at parties is chant our alma mater, airbands require hours of patience and practice and Mrs. Hudson is sent from God to make your life a little easier. You will realize PreCalculus will destroy your soul around the same time you realize your best friends are your soul mates. You will realize your grade can get through anything together because we are bound by this idea of sisterhood; this idea will get made fun of by Rockhurst boys but keep Instagraming those “Only at the Academy” pictures.

Then you realize your best friends will no longer be living minutes from your house. You will realize mom will never bring you Mr. Goodcents to school again, you will never get to sign your name on the line for an SBR again, you will never again get to slide your hands down your tartan plaid skirt, fall asleep during class mass, complain about parking or stand with your sisters and shout at the other team, while wearing a man’s suit, how you desire to eat “Sion meat.” “RAW, RAW, RAW!” You will realize this is the end.

I want you to go back to the end of the tunnel in Donnelly. At the very end, on the far right side I signed my name in huge letters: “Cecilia Butler 2014”. Sign your name right under mine.

Zoe, welcome to St. Teresa’s.

– With love, Cecilia

PS: Can’t wait to see your eighth grade play tomorrow, I’m sure your role as a tree is as crucial to the plot as you say it is!