Graduating students hands throwing graduation caps in the air.

High school seniors, get set to be linked with 2023 forever

Some day, you’ll be mocked like you make fun of people who graduated in, say, 1996.

It’s finally here, 2023, the year my son graduates from high school. The Class of 2023 seemed a long ways off when I was carrying him in my arms to the infant toddler program at Edmonds College’s Family Life and Education Department. It was a distant glimmer when I peered through the window at him reading books at Edmonds Montessori. It was a faraway date when I walked him to the bus stop, day after day, year after year throughout elementary school.

All of those moments have led to now. This is the year my son becomes an adult, receives his diploma and heads off to college. Forever and ever he’ll be marked as ‘23.

Class years are weird.The universe groups you with a cohort of people for the rest of your life. On the one hand, you have little in common with most of them. On the other, you share similarities that instantly connect you.

I graduated from high school in 1996. Nobody had a smartphone. Only a few people had cellphones. Renting a movie from Blockbuster and inviting friends over to watch it was a popular activity. A gallon of gas cost $1.19. Favorite expressions included “pysch!” and “don’t go there.” No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” was popular on the radio and “Twister” was in theaters. I worked all summer at the San Diego Zoo, earning $5.50 an hour, to save up $2,000 to purchase a computer to bring with me to college. Its hard drive had an impressive 2 gigabytes of storage space.

When I try to compare 1996 to 2023, things don’t add up in the way that’d I’d like them to. An inflation calculator tells me that if gas was $1.19 in 1996, it should cost $2.25 now. My wages of $5.50 an hour in 1996 would be $10.40 now. But according to the San Diego Zoo’s website, that job pays $17 an hour today. On the other hand, you can buy a decent computer for $300 and 2 gigabytes of storage seems laughable.

Worth noting too is that the 1990s have made a huge comeback. For decades day at school, kids dress up in Gwen Stefani costumes, circa her No Doubt years. Flannel, flared and low rise jeans have made a return and some teens are desperate to find vintage Walkmans just for the heck of it.

It makes me wonder, 25 years from now, what will people in 2048 think about 2023?

My prediction is that high schoolers will earn $40 an hour at their summer jobs. Nobody will have gas-powered vehicles except for certain industries like agriculture, and computers and cellphones will be obsolete because technology will be integrated into buildings. The big movie rocking theaters will be called “Coronavirus” and for decades day at school kids will arrive in masks and Peloton shirts like its 2020.

I guess what I’m saying is get ready for it class of 2023. You, too, will be mocked someday. It’s only a matter of time.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

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