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Mitchell Beshears, J1 Reporter

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Graduates encourage students to make the most of their time in high school:

Zane Weaver, Class of 2016:

What activities did you do? And which was your favorite and why?

In high school, I was truly passionate about one thing and one thing only, and that was theatre. The entire art form and what it symbolized for myself was rejuvenating and a very important piece of my life that I will cherish for a life time. When I stepped on stage, all the problems and stress of Zane was completely washed away and I could be someone else, even if for a short while. A grasshopper, a director, a star-crossed lover or even myself (a failing comedian). It all added up to completely turn myself around and finally be passionate about something.

What was your favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park?

If I had to nail down the best experience Oak Park ever gave me, it would have to be the experience as a whole. To be in such a wide and diverse crowd of people and to study each type of personality there was to offer. It was exciting, saddening, and even upsetting at times, but the uniqueness of it all created something special I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What is your biggest regret from high school?

My biggest regret from high school is not being able to be more involved. Having anxiety issues and self-image issues was a major roadblock to success and I suppose I was never really to overcome it. I wish I could go back just teach myself to love and accept myself sooner. We need more of that in this world.

If you could re-do one year which? And why?

If I could redo one year it would have to be my freshman year. For many personal reasons but to better set myself up for success. I came in with a lack of care or motivation and it really damaged the rest of my years in the way of challenge. One year can be all it takes to fall hard and getting off the ground can be mentally and physically taxing.

Any advice on courses for underclassmen?

As for courses, please take a psychology or sociology class. The things you can discover about yourself can be life changing. Take theatre. You would be immensely surprised on how fun it can actually be (when there is no drama). Most importantly, take the classes that peak your interests, don’t second guess yourself ever.

Overall how was your high school experience?

My high school experience in a nutshell. Painful, enlightening, difficult, happy, creative, upsetting and expansive. All those, for all the right reasons. Side note: it’s time to bring a light to bullying in schools. More progress must be made.

And lastly how is your experience outside of high school?

After graduating, things are a lot different. I have discovered what I truly want in life and where I need to go. I have more time to think about the future and less about the stress of now and the past. More time to cherish my memories and more time to appreciate myself. Am I completely different? In some ways yes, in others no. I still dab impulsively for no reason. Keep moving forward. Zane out.

Will Henry, Class of 2014:

What activities did you do? And which was your favorite and why?

I participated in cross country, track and key club at Oak Park. I enjoyed track because of the environment the coach’s made for the athletes. It was competitive and fun.

What was your favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park?

My favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park was the friendships I made. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people and some of those friendships continue strong to this day.

What is your biggest regret from high school?

My biggest regret from high school is not participating in enough activities. I only did two sports and was a part of one club. I wish I would have joined DECA and taken [StuCo sponsor Bryan] Edinger’s leadership class.

If you could re-do one year which? And why?

I would love to redo my senior year. It was my favorite year in high school because I grew close to a lot of my classmates and teachers. Attending sporting games and participating in cross/track my senior year are some of my best memories from high school.

Any advice on courses for underclassmen?

Diversify yourself in courses. Take things that are not familiar to you. In other words: The broader, the better. I would advise taking a foreign language all four years. Home maintenance and repair was a very useful class for me since I’m not a very handy . Take a couple of AP classes as well because they will prepare you very well for college.

Overall how was your high school experience?

I had a really memorable high school experience. The teachers and staff at Oak Park made the experience great. They prepared me very well for both the academic and athletic side of college. I also made lifelong friendships with students and teachers. Always will be proud to be a Northman.

And lastly how is your experience outside of high school?

I’m having a great experience outside of high school. This is my junior year and I’m double majoring in accounting and marketing. I currently attend Park University and run on their cross country and track teams. I also serve on Park’s Student Government Association and am a member of accounting club and their campus Christian group called Revive. The university is similar to Oak Park in terms of smaller class size and great faculty/staff. I’m having a wonderful experience in college and Oak Park helped pave the way for this wonderful opportunity.

Chris Durrant, Class of 2016: 

What activities did you do? And which was your favorite and why?

I was in forensics, theatre and choir and a bunch of other stuff I think. Honestly I couldn’t pick a favorite between theatre and choir, they’re both such pure forms of expression.

What was your favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park?

My favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park was being able to go to Galveston, Texas, with Oak Street and just becoming better friends with people I already liked, I also had many wonderful and unforgettable experiences on that trip that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What is your biggest regret from high school?

My biggest regret from high school was pretty small, my senior year I took a solo to District contest and one of my songs was somewhat less practiced than it should have been and I got a 2 overall which meant I couldn’t go to State with the solo and I just felt really bad about it and it made me never want to sing again. Other than that, I feel I met every challenge I took on and accomplished a lot in those four years.

If you could re-do one year which? And why?

I would redo my freshman year. I would’ve auditioned for choir and Oak Street that year and try to have done better at all the forensics competitions I went to.

Any advice on courses for underclassmen?

AP LITERATURE WAS LITERALLY LIT. Take an Advanced class on something you think you might like, it might just end up becoming a passion of yours!

Overall how was your high school experience?

My high school experience was pretty rad. I got to do a lot that other people didn’t get the chance to just because they didn’t get involved. Not gonna lie, going to high school to actually learn kinda blows, but if you do other stuff- sports, theatre, choir, debate, art – it makes all the learning worth it.

And lastly how is your experience outside of high school?

Life outside of high school really kinda sucks. I don’t dig it as much. But I’m also at a really weird transitional period of my life, so I can’t say it’ll suck forever, and I’m sure something far better than high school is in store for me.

Michael Neeley, Class of 2014: 

What activities did you do? And which was your favorite (and why of course)

For my first two years of high school, my only activities included playing the viola; I was in most orchestras, and also played in the pit orchestra for the musical. My junior year, I started running cross country and track. Becoming more active as an upperclassman, I also joined Key Club and Scholar Bowl, and was semi-active in those. Honestly, running was my favorite activity that I started at Oak Park, and I continue to do it in college as a team captain of the cross country team here at CMU.

What was your favorite experience that happened because of Oak Park?

While not quite a singular experience, having AP Biology with [science teacher Kim] Bennett opened my mind to how much I actually loved science and biology. Having her class for an entire block every day allowed me to learn more in a high school (and college) class during that year than most people are able to.

What is your biggest regret from high school?

High school isn’t necessarily a place of regret for me – it was a great stepping stone and provided a great social and scholastic learning environment. While I don’t necessarily have any regrets for what I did do in high school, I do have regrets for what I didn’t do. I was a lot more introverted in high school, and therefore didn’t muster the courage to start running (probably my biggest regret) until my junior year. It was a great place to try new things, do stupid stuff, and and make mistakes. In the words of Ms. Frizzle, I didn’t, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” High school is a place that grants a lot of opportunity – whether it be academic, athletic, social, musical, etc. And it is one of the place that lets you try new things without fear of major reprisal.

If you could re-do one year which? And why?
I would probably re-do my freshman year. Coming from New Mark – where most of my peers went to Staley, I came into high school not really knowing anyone. I stayed pretty good friends with my friends from Staley, but didn’t make an effort to make friends at the school I was actually attending. I didn’t participate in many things, and therefore didn’t quite branch out as much as I should have.

Any advice on courses for underclassmen?

While it depends on each person, I would definitely encourage taking AP, college and honors classes. I enjoyed AP classes, as it gave me full college credit, (without a grade attached to it) I was good at tests, and it was free for me. College classes are good if people want good grades going into college, but I was off-put by the cost and risk for a bad grade, and the fact that I couldn’t pay that much, (I think it was something like at least $500) for a class at that time.

I think students need to take a look at what they would like to learn, as well as what they expect to get for grades – I took all honors and AP classes, but didn’t have a 4.0 – and all most colleges care at admission is your GPA and class rank, which factor into how much scholarship you will receive. I went into college knowing a lot of information that others didn’t know, and my classes were therefore easier, but I also didn’t get as much money to attend as I could have if I had taken all regular classes and received a better GPA.

Overall how was your high school experience?

It was about as good as high school gets. I remember getting caught up in high school a lot more than necessary – wondering what people thought about me, and stressing about grades. In retrospect, while high school really was a judgmental place, it doesn’t really matter all that much once you graduate.

And lastly how is your experience outside of high school?

I absolutely loved being in the pit orchestra, playing in a quartet, and being a part of “Messiah.” Participating in Scholar Bowl, volunteering with Key Club and learning how to write a dissertation for Gold Medallion were all great. Running in XC and track meets, from normal meets, on up to Sectionals was extremely rewarding and prepared me for college in more ways than I can think of.

And lastly how is your experience outside of high school?

It’s pretty great, and makes me realize how much of a stark difference there is between high school and college. Starting in kindergarten, and every successive year, all your teachers would say, “They won’t tolerate this kind of behavior in (fill in next year here)/We’re just preparing you for (next school).” But college is a completely different animal in my experience than some teachers talked about – you do have to be extremely self-motivated, but most professors are understanding, your schedules are much freer and flexible, and there is so many extra-curricular activities, programs, and groups that you pretty much can do as many or as little things as you want. I often think back to how I managed to go to school every day and sit in class for 7+ hours, while now I grumble about my 10 classes a week.

My junior year of high school, I decided I wanted to be a nurse, and now I’m currently in the nursing program at CMU. I went from running JV cross country my junior year of high school, to being team captain my junior year of college, one of the top runners, and on my school’s “Top 25 All-Time” list. I’m independent, and live off-campus in a house that I pay rent and utilities, paying for and cooking all my own food. The big thing though, is that I don’t feel that different than I did in high school – I don’t necessarily have my … more together, or feel older or more responsible, but I just have more things expected of me, and I try to manage those expectations. My 16 year-old self thinking of a 21-year-old as really old and mature is insane, because I still feel pretty much like I did when I was 16. All adults are kids in the inside – just some are better at lying about it than others.

 

 

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Don’t Blink