We all remember the ghosts of Valentine’s Days past. They come in the forms of sugar rushes, hyper headaches and those tiny themed valentines and the hours spent tediously labeling and taping each one. Ah, those were the days, when a whole day of school was dedicated to eating candy and reading paper valentines.

While reminiscing about previous Valentine’s Days is fun, it’s time better spent on thinking of how we spend Valentine’s Day now. It’s hard to miss the evolution of Valentine’s Day, along with the magnification of everything else at the high school level. Coming from a middle school that had very little to offer in the Valentine’s Day department, I am very satisfied with the Valentine’s Day routine at Williamsville South High School.

I truly wasn’t expecting much as I trucked into school last Feb. 14 as a freshman. I knew about the hush hearts, our unique tradition where each girl is presented with a paper heart necklace at the start of the day. If she says one word to a guy throughout the day, she is forced to hand over her heart necklace, which guys aim to collect (these roles are switched on St. Patrick’s Day, when girls compete for guys’ shamrock necklaces). So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled into a plush pink cafeteria glamorously decorated with hearts and glitter, with strawberry milkshakes floating around on trays and corny holiday games in every corner. Carnations were also being delivered left and right, white from friends, red from girlfriends or boyfriends, and pink from secret admirers. The entire day was overwhelmingly jovial, to say the least.

Shannon Murphy, sophomore and current Pep Club president at Williamsville South, admits that it’s not easy to put together.

“I feel like it’s definitely worth it,” she said on the subject of the endless hours she puts into organizing the carnation sales. “We go through all this hard work to order the flowers and make the tags, but it makes everyone happy.”

Sabrina Giordano, a freshman at Grand Island High School, explains that they do something a little different.

“We do this thing where the people give whoever they want a ‘crush’ can, like the pop Crush,” she explained. “And the can is crushed up, symbolizing they have a crush on you.”

No matter what the tradition, Valentine’s Day is undoubtedly a day we all look forward to. This quasi-holiday has made its way to becoming one of the more materialistic holidays in the U.S. We cherish Valentine’s Day as a day that gets us through winter months in one piece, so that we emerge into spring with a little less darkness; if anything we can appreciate it for its timing. Buried behind boxes of candy and Hallmark cards, though, lies the true heart of the matter; sometimes all we need is a little love.

So despite the number of valentines we receive each year steadily decreasing in number, it seems that high school has allowed us to grow to appreciate Valentine’s Day, along with many other things, in a newfound light.

Shannon agrees: “It’s not the same as it was when we were younger, but I feel like it’s something everyone looks forward to.”

Rachel Whalen is a sophomore at Williamsville South High School.