Life After Sinatra

By Andrea Morelos

FSSA Alumni recently came back to talk to the current FSSA students.

The 1st of August of 2022 marked the official commencement of the college application season for the graduating class of ‘23. As the Common Application launched, students were finally given the opportunity to begin applying to colleges towards the end of their summer vacation. Talk of dream schools, GPAs, SAT scores, and extracurriculars were all the buzz among the senior student body at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA).

FSSA college offices and suites were packed to the doorway with working seniors and college counselors Jacob Dennis and Jasmin McClendon were booked and busy with student appointments. Now, as spring inches closer with each passing school week, the fates of the senior students are decided with the ever-dreaded decision letter. Alongside the commotion that comes with every college application season, many FSSA students feel intimidated at the idea of leaving our established community of four years. The reality of leaving high school and entering an unsupervised, demanding, and often lonely adult world hasn’t seemed to hit many of FSSA seniors just yet.

“I’ve been wanting to come to school here for a long time, and I really enjoyed my time here. But this year, I finally got the opportunity I wanted in the musical, so I don’t know if I’m ready to go just yet…” says senior Ryan Stahl, FSSAs lead for the Carrie Musical of 2023. 

So, to ease tensions and soothe worries, the FSSA alumni from the class of 2022 help explain just how different college life is when compared to Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

At FSSA, student’s artistic majors are already implemented into their daily schedules. It’s something the students have gotten used with the opportunity to improve their skills. However, many seniors will not be choosing to pursue their FSSA major in college.

“I didn’t see myself doing music as a career because I wanted to make money,” says 2022 vocal graduate Tommix Artiles, who now studies at Louisiana State University. “Even if you don’t want to pursue your FSSA major in college, you can always still follow up with it with outside hobbies or even school clubs…” he continues. 

On the flipside, there may still be a ray of hope for the seniors who have moved away from their art studio to redeem themselves.

“I loved performing, but being at FSSA and being forced to sing all the time almost made it a chore,” explains Linnea Burroughs, a 2022 FSSA vocal graduate who now attends Bennington College in Vermont. “But being in a more chill environment in college has reignited the passion I used to have at the beginning of the year and has made me excited to start performing again,” she says. 

One of the main differences between FSSA and college that most alumni can agree on is the way in which all the responsibilities lie on the student. The class of 2022 explains how undergraduate students program their own classes around their own schedule, make their own money, cook their own meals, and sometimes pay their own rent. 

“There’s no one pushing you to do anything. Not the guidance counselors, not the teachers, no one. You have to hold yourself accountable for everything; from schoolwork to even just making friends. You have to put yourself in good situations,” says 2022 graduate Maricarmen Rendon, who now attends Baruch College in New York City.

In addition to this, alumni express the unexpected struggle it was to leave NYC and FSSA, both of which are huge melting pots of culture, diversity, and inclusivity. As of now, a large portion of the student body shows excitement and anticipation at the idea of leaving home, NYC, and especially high school.

“The engaging, inclusive and friendly environment is one of a kind and I miss it very much,” says Kristen Sam about her time at FSSA. She is now a biomedical engineer student at Hofstra University. 

She further expresses that not much stays the same in college, and that letting go of old friendships, bad habits and immaturity is key to surviving and thriving in college but is unexpectedly painful.

“It was hard to say goodbye to all my friends, but we all have to grow up eventually. You don’t realize how comforting it is to know the faces in the halls and know the voices of your teachers until you’re in college and nobody cares about you anymore. Life is going to move on without you if you let it, so be easy on yourself. Remember that we’re all going through the same thing together; you and all the rest of the college freshmen,” says Ethan Chin, a former film major who pursued film at SVA in New York City. He is one of many alumni who wish they could be back under the familiar roof of FSSA.

Alumni were also asked to give their most personal and important pieces of advice to the FSSA seniors, seeing as many of them still keep ties and continue to communicate with each other every so often.

“Just get a job. Make money. Make sure to remember to split work and fun because now you’re paying for school and most of us literally cannot afford to mess up. Just work hard and play hard,” suggests Zoe Soares, a former vocal major who attends the University of Buffalo in New York.

“You’re gonna do things and you might fail completely at them. But you might find something that you never thought you’d enjoy, so no matter the outcome, win or lose, you’re gonna grow from it. Just don’t be afraid,” says Linnea. “Enjoy the rest of your senior year because there will never be anywhere like FSSA. Good luck out there, seniors.”