To my high school,

I feel like our relationship is very much like a parent and child relationship. Except, instead of having two parents, I had at least 36, but most definitely more. Throughout the four years I spent in your company, I loved and appreciated you, but also was a stubborn kid who wasn’t always a fan of the work and the rules and the parent’s guidance.

However, now that I have been away on my own for two years, my gratitude and sense of appreciation for everything you gave me has only grown and will continue to grow as I go throughout life.

The six classes a day that produced piles a homework were certainly not my favorite things in the moment. The stress was high and seemingly never-ending. But now, that I have five classes, most of which only meet twice a week but still produce the same amount of work, I know I can tackle these to-do lists of assignments because I already have four years of experience in my back pocket.

It is not just my time and stress management that grew, it was the academic work and the high expectations from high school classes that now provide me with confidence in the work I turn in to my professors today. Today when I am assigned a 7-10 page paper, I am not scared because I don't know where to start, instead, I receive the assignment knowing that while it may be a challenge and it will require time and energy, I have the skills and background necessary to do a good job on it.

However, strong work ethic and ability is not cultivated just because of the assignments a student hands in. The people who teach you how to do these assignments and do them well is what makes the difference. I am the scholar I am today because of the English teacher who taught me how to create an argument for a paper, and then after having me for two years pulled me aside in front of a group of my peers to tell me how much growth he had seen in me. To this day, whenever I get frustrated or unsure of my abilities, I think of this moment and it reminds me that I am good at what I am doing and I can get the work done.

The teachers I had, and even some who I didn’t, were constant cheerleaders for all of us at our school. The teacher from freshman year who always complimented me after working at open house events. The teacher who spent hours helping me work with another teacher to write a speech at the end of senior year. The teacher who selected me for a leadership position for a retreat.

These things, little things, really add up. Everyone who would smile, wave, and offer a greeting as we passed in the hallways. Knowing that I was in a place where I was supported, and encouraged made me want to go to school every day.

While there is the stereotype that four years of high school are the worst four years of a person’s life and once they graduate, and move on to the next thing in life they are filled with a sense of relief, I am glad this did not hold true for me. Conversely, when I received my diploma and realized at the end of the summer I would not be coming back to my high school, but would instead be moving across the country to begin college, I was filled with an immense sense of melancholy.

I knew that in some respects, the school had given me all that it could and that if I could have somehow found a way to sneak back for a fifth year, the experience would not be the same, however I don’t think I fully understood how much I would continue to learn from the school once I did arrive at college.

I have truly understood how much my school empowered me in so many different respects, but mainly to share my voice and be unafraid to pursue the things you most want and carry yourself with confidence, unafraid of what others may think.

The school also left a visible impression on me in the way I carry myself as well. On two separate occasions, once by the nurse at the doctor’s office, and the other by an admissions director who was familiar with the Seattle area who was on a college campus tour I was giving, I have been asked if I had gone to Holy Names with very little information given about my background. To be able to be recognized as an alumnus gives me so much pride and joy to have had the opportunity to go to this school and puts a spark within me to continue to give back to the school in whatever way possible in the future.

I do not think I will ever be able to properly articulate what my high school and my high school experience means to me. I am forever grateful and indebted to the teachers and friends who shaped me during my high school experience. I have had multiple conversations with my friends from high school in which we have contemplated where we would be today if it had not been for the education we received. I know I most definitely would not be at the college where I am today, pursuing the degree that I am, and having the internship I am.

My time in high school helped me find my passions and encouraged me to pursue them. I cannot wait to see what other impacts this school will have on me in the years to come, and I sincerely hope that one day I will be able to return and become a part of its day-to-day community once more in some other capacity.

From a very grateful alum,

C.M.