By Louisa Benatovich, ECS Student Reporter

They moved as a pack, like a pride of lions stalking through the savannah. They weaved through the clumps of people like they were the tall, dry grass of the Serengeti. Then, they saw it. Their prey, like a massive herd of thundering wildebeests, appeared before them. It was scary, loud, and slightly dusty. It was like nothing they had ever seen before. It was the 2018 Buffalo National College Fair.

The juniors split up, hoping to take down one beast at a time. Unlike lions, they didn’t attack the old and weak. Instead, they searched for the juiciest acceptance rates, financial aid, and offered majors. If you were really looking, you’d see a junior emerge from the hunt, smile on face, boasting pamphlets and free pens. If you weren’t looking, you might miss out on the perfect college for you; the wildebeest that got away.

Though I compare ironically, entering the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center was a shock to the senses. There were people everywhere and the noise took the entire junior class aback. I can imagine how Mufasa felt in “The Lion King”; our future was charging straight at us and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

Luckily, we had over 200 futures to choose from. Universities from as close as Olean and as far away as Australia attended the event. They ranged from small, rural liberal arts schools to enormous urban technical institutes. There was almost everything a college hopeful could dream of. Brennan Finn, who is hoping to be a physical therapist, was a bit disappointed. “It was a wonderful opportunity to see what was really out there,” he said, “but not a single college offered my major.”

Others were luckier in their hunt. “It was a very helpful experience,” said Robin Freaney. “I discovered many colleges that I would never have even thought of.”

Many other high schools were drawn to the watering hole, as well. Of the many that attended, Ellicottville spied Frontier High School, St. Francis, and Canisius High School. Another classmate, Abby Seibert, was particularly affected by this. “I didn’t have much to say about the college fair,” Seibert said, “but being with much larger schools just shows that there’s much more than the tiny school that we go to. The world has so much more to offer.”

In my case, I realized truly how many people we all compete with to get into college. It was very daunting. I wanted to leave my fabricated African plains and become a burrowing animal, perhaps a mole or a rabbit. I wanted to click my heels together and close my eyes while whispering, “Take me back to kindergarten when gluing was the most exciting part of my day.”

Junior year is undoubtedly the most stressful year of high school. Full of SATs, ACTs, choosing colleges, and figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, it can take its toll on the hardiest of students. The college fair was a slap in the face for some, and an encouraging tap on the rear for others. It’s time to get in gear, it said, college is just around the corner and your futures are knocking at the door.

After the fair, the ECS junior class enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the McKinley Mall. It was nice to approach a booth from which lovely food smells escaped rather than uncertainty and stress. We all wished it was as easy to choose a future as it was to choose Arby’s over Subway.

Be on the lookout for ECS juniors in the Ellicottville community. You might consider sponsoring one. We are the Junior junior sapiens of 2019 and we are classified as an endangered species on the verge of an extinction caused by too much stress. Donate stress management tips now!