It was only four years ago – it seems much longer than that – when I was a wide-eyed, freshman attending high school orientation in the gymnasium. At the time, I thought I knew it all; I acted like I owned the place. In reality, it was just the first day of the hundreds upon hundreds.
But there was one thing in particular that stood out and illustrates my time at Shawnee Mission East – a senior girl, draped in a yellow link crew shirt spoke to my entire graduating class. She presented herself with keen nobility, grasping the attention of her audience in the white-walled gym in an instant. For ten minutes, she addressed what to expect at East. From the clubs that I would partake in, to the classes I would patiently endure – she should’ve hinted about Chemistry before I learned about that grueling of a subject firsthand.
She then preached about the theme of family. Early on, I didn’t realize what she meant, but as the years built up it hit me at the most callous point of my life. Last month, I experienced the pain of losing my grandmother on the night of my birthday. In an instant, I received outward support from my classmates, people who now I can call friends. This support was blossomed amongst cards and prayers, even down to gracious and loving comments directed to me on social media. The family in this school changes people. It changed me.
As the girl dressed in yellow’s voice heightened and pace picked up, she confessed how this school displays its emotions – scattered across the classrooms, stamped in the hallway and branded in each student’s heart.
Maybe family latches onto something maybe bigger than life, something that was stressed outwardly once I enrolled here four years ago. It’s a concept that the school administers whenever tragedy strikes, when relationships are built and skills are developed. It’s a loving six-letter word that conveys so much more than the sum of its parts.
East has given me the ability to branch out and reach new horizons and the ability to withstand hardship and move on.
I’m going to remember this school by the stories I tell, how it made me laugh, how it made me learn and most importantly, how it made me be myself.