Sweet 16 Turning 16 opens new doors

Junior Sophia Schillinger celebrates her sixteenth birthday with friends and cake.

With all the lights turned down, surrounded by off tune voices singing the last part of “Happy Birthday,” sophomore Noelle Beckner gets ready to close her eyes, make a wish and finally blow out the 16 candles sitting in front of her. 

It’s a scene that American teens are all too familiar with in movies like “16 Candles,” which shows 16 as a landmark age for young teenage girls. Turning sixteen does come with many rewards, such as getting an intermediate license and being able to drive pretty much anywhere without parental supervision (within a curfew, of course). In some states, one can legally get married, register as an organ donor, get a full time job and even drop out of school. 

For Beckner, turning 16 has opened all sorts of different doors. 

“My favorite part about being 16 is feeling more mature and like I have more independence.” Beckner said. “I get to use my license to drive places without supervision when my parents let me, which is really nice.” 

Sophomore and new 16-year-old, Abby McCurdy agreed, and said that her favorite part of being 16 is her newfound independence. “I have a lot more freedoms, and my parents are a little more willing to let me do things more often than they would when I was 15,” McCurdy said. 

For McCurdy, the day of her 16th birthday wasn’t quite the big affair that you see on the big screen. “My birthday was on Thanksgiving, so I just celebrated my birthday by being with my family and eating a lot of mashed potatoes,” McCurdy said. “I haven’t even actually got the chance to go get my license yet.”

She also said that movies and the media tend to sensationalize the reality of a girl’s 16th birthday. ‘There is all this hype about turning 16, which makes is seem overwhelming, even though it’s really not.” McCurdy said.

Beckner said she also had a similar experience with a relatively simple birthday with her family. “On my birthday, I just went out to eat with my family at Texas Roadhouse and went to the Waverly DOT to get my license,” Beckner said. 

She said that she has learned a lot of lessons through being 15 and is excited for what the next year will hold for her future. “Over the past year, I’ve learned that life offers you a lot of privileges and that every second of life matters, the bad and the good moments,” Beckner said. “I’ve learned that you need to try to stay positive and live your life to the fullest.”

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