I will never forget coming home after freshmen orientation in August 2018. As a Maple graduate who knew only about 40 of the 800 students in my grade, it is needless to say that I was incredibly overwhelmed and terrified.
Today, that scared little freshman would be so proud of how I’ve grown over these past few years; and in large part, I owe it to the various clubs and activities that I got involved in.
I served on the Key Club board from my sophomore year through this year, and I have taken so much away from this experience. Through presenting and planning events, I was able to significantly improve my public speaking and communication skills in a way I never would have otherwise. I was inspired by the hundreds of students and teachers who were so passionate about helping others to pursue a career in the social justice field in the future.
Onward House is another club I have been involved in since freshman year, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for all it has given me. Freshman year, I would sit alone on the 45 minute bus rides with my earbuds in, feeling isolated and lonely; however, as soon as I entered Onward House Community Center, the smiles of the children I tutored reminded me how much helping others can uplift one’s own mood as well.
Before I came to South, I was very involved in musical theater and choir. An “actress” since third grade, I could not wait to continue performing when I got to high school.
While I did not end up participating in theater as much as I intended to, I did perform in the Variety Show for three years. I still learned very valuable lessons from my (less successful) attempts to get involved. Although my failures broke my heart, it taught me how to persevere and accept rejection as an inevitable part of life. Even when I was cut, I learned to become proud of myself for trying and putting myself out there. After all, sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination.
And then there’s the reason I’m here writing this column at all: The Oracle. I was hesitant to join as a freshman, I’ll admit, but today I am so grateful I took the leap. Being a part of this amazing newspaper has not only improved my writing skills drastically, but has introduced me to so many new people, issues, activities, and opportunities at South and in my community.
From the club Elpida, which taught me to be more open and vulnerable when discussing mental health, to Peer Group, which taught me how to use my own experiences to help others, I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had throughout my high school career that have made me who I am today.
Which is to say – incoming freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, I encourage you to get as involved as you can here at South. Join that club you think sounds exciting. Apply for that leadership position. Whatever it is that interests you, try it out. It just might make you a better student, leader, and member of your community.
So, to all the clubs I’ve loved before; thank you. Thank you for changing me, inspiring me, and making me who I am today. Thank you for helping me grow, evolve, learn, lead, and discover my passions. I cannot wait to see the new students who will come to love you as much as I did over these next few years.