How High School Musical 3 Feels 11 Years Later

It is a rather known truth that if you mention High School Musical (in any form) to someone, they would usually know what you are talking about. The only exception is the little Gen Z children. It is a shock when you meet a person who has never heard of the franchise because even those who never watched it have at least heard of it.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year was probably the highlight of my life when it came out in 2008. My second grade self had the DVD, and would watch it in long car rides with my sister on repeat. Needless to say, while a wildly inaccurate portrayal of a high school experience, the feelings of anxiety or stress of post-high school plans are real.

The High School Musical trilogy was an exciting adventure from the start to the end when we got our iconic last on-screen jump from the cast. It does give a faulty impression of what high school is like as characters belt out a song at their own convenience and no one seems to question how random it is. In fact, the other characters pretty much join in too. However, it was enough for me to know that it was fictional, but 11 years later, I really see the impact of the movie.

Now, I am a first year in college. I graduated high school not too long ago, and whenever I look back at the movie, I do not see it in the same light as I did before. In fact, it really showed me how I was moving on in my life. There is no more High School Musical 2 phases where my classmates and I are chanting “Summer, summer, summer—" as the clock ticks and the bell rings. Furthermore, throughout the movie, I understood the uncertainty each character was going through. I could hardly get through the movie during the end of my senior year in high school. In fact, I had to skip around to save myself from crying my heart out.

During those 11 years, a lot really happens in everyone’s lives, especially for the people who were part of this filmic era. Maybe you made your closest friends at the time. Or you are trying to figure out what your future will be. High School Musical 3: Senior Year taught me that life continues to move on even as we speak. However, it does not mean we need to figure out what we need in a certain time frame. You cannot compare your pace with others because we are all different; our goals are different.

In addition, I learned that no matter how close you are with people, sometimes you end up being separated from them. However, as you watch the curtain drop in the end, the characters are all smiling. Sure, this might be an end of an era in your life, but it does not mean everything is over. The smiles on everyone’s faces showed me that each character was proud of where they ended up. Ultimately, Troy and Chad’s friendship taught me that our plans change, and we have to part ways in order to pursue our own dreams. It does not mean a friendship has ended. Rather, it is a chance to strengthen a friendship even if distance becomes an obstacle.

Meanwhile, people never really see beyond Troy and Gabriella besides the fact that they are couple goals. Troy chose to attend a school that is “32.7 miles” away from Gabriella. Calculating that distance in reality, their schools are about 1.5 hours away from each other. If you take into account how busy college can get, distance is not the only problem for those two. But Troy and Gabriella taught me an important lesson about any (platonic or romantic) relationship in general. After high school, you begin to really see who was part of your life and who you outgrew, because we all have our own separate ambitions to work on. However, Troy and Gabriella taught me how to overcome all this worry about losing the people you have grown to love over time. Distance is not the problem. It’s how you handle it. As long as you both figure out ways to still keep in contact all the time, the bonds you share become even stronger and more meaningful than before.

This movie was a wild run for me. It taught me to make the most out of my time. I learned to make as many memories as possible (while also balancing schoolwork). I learned how it was okay to not know where I am headed for the future. There are some things that take time to figure out.