Position: Web Co-Editor
College: University of Southern California
Major: Broadcast Journalism
As an eighth-grader I was the king of Antioch Middle School. Walking through the halls I could greet every person with a smile and genuinely mean it. When the new stadium opened up at SM North that year three friends and I painted our chests in Cardinal and black and went to see the first game ever (the Cougars destroyed the Indians). I was a diehard Indian, more than anyone I knew.
Over the summer I went to a party at Cooper Toombs’ house with a friend from church and spent most of the time awkwardly on the side. I only went to two days of the week-long incoming freshman soccer camp because I decided I wasn’t good enough (at North that wouldn’t have been an issue). I threw on black shoes, tall red socks, black shorts and a red North tee and went to an Indian football game a few weeks into the school year. Luckily I was out of town for the Nut Cup that year.
At times I would cry. For the decision my parents forced me into. For my social life. For my former school. I kept telling my North friends that I was coming back. On the last day I school, I would tell them, I’m decking myself out in North apparel just to spite those stuck-up East kids. Of course, that didn’t happen. My mom had told me to “grow where I’m planted.” And, occasionally, mothers make some sense.
Freshman year was a rough transition for me. The transfer was my parents’ idea, not mine. Probably my biggest regret of my high school career is not getting involved in a sport or activity that fall. I made the first round of basketball cuts, but not the second (again, at North that wouldn’t have been an issue). I honestly can’t remember hanging out with any fellow Lancers outside of school that first year.
I hadn’t found a home at East and I actually had to fly 14 hours away to find it. It was an unassuming fall day and my mom was giving me a ride to school in our silver Honda Odyssey. Mr. Nickels had begun planning yet another summer trip, this time to China. He had previously taken two of my aunts to Europe (one actually got concussed when a window fell on her in a train) and I casually asked my mom if she thought I could go this year. The $4,000 price tag was daunting and I didn’t think for a second that I would be able to go.
Nickels wanted us to give him a number, 1-4, letting him know how likely it was that we would be going on the trip. Four meant for sure yes and one was absolutely no. My mom told me I was a four, I could go. At first I thought she had mixed the meaning of the numbers up and meant it like I absolutely couldn’t go, but then I realized something that I’ve remembered to this day – there are more opportunities available to me than I could ever imagine, I just need to act on them. The trip would be expensive, but my mom said it was too good of an opportunity to let go. “They can take away your Visa, but not your memories,” my great uncle once told my aunt.
Not only was the trip incredibly amazing (about 40 classmates and seven “chill” teachers like Ms. Fishman and Mr. Chaffee toured China’s stunning sights), but everything I’ve done since then has been defined by that moment in the family van with my mom. Limits were only barriers that needed to be passed through on the way to something better.
To begin my new journey I joined The Harbinger, I was elected a class representative on Student Council and I became one of the loudest voices in the stands at East sporting events, donning the Columbia Blue SME cap from the ‘80s that my grandpa gave me. Some of this may hold true for others, but we each have our own unique path.
It’s quite possible that you’ll come to East and feel like you have to fit a mold or become a stereotype. That just isn’t the case. You can do whatever you want (within reason) at East and the only person preventing you from doing any of it is yourself.
I came to East knowing only a select few people that I had met at the Highlands E.L. Center in elementary school. But in just two days I will be addressing my class at Graduation as East’s student body president. If you move on to the next senior column with anything, let it be this: Realize who you are and realize your potential. Nobody’s stopping you.
Thanks for your support these past four years. East is a better place because of readers like you. And remember, Slytherin rules.