By Will Caraccio
It is 8:10 am on a brisk Monday morning as I swiftly step out of the car and make my way toward first period. Though my 20-pound backpack—burgeoning with an obscene assortment of thick textbooks and school supplies—weighs on my shoulders, I feel light and alive. The smell of freshly cut grass emanating from the field and the gentle sun warming my face reminds me of where I am: Westmont, the setting of my high school journey.
As I pass by the red-brick buildings of the alphabetical wings, I see the faces that have populated my Westmont experience. Taking a sharp right, I catch a glimpse of Rianna Herzlinger and shoot her a spastic wave. Passing by Room 58 I stop to chat with Mr. Evans as we prepare for our upcoming Journalism class. Since my sophomore year, Journalism has been my home away from home, offering a safe and relaxing environment during stressful weeks of tests. This morning, I rehearsed my page theme pitches in my head, eagerly awaiting the moment I will share them with the class. As I gingerly open the door to my math class, I am welcomed by the nods of my classmates already seated. I slide into my desk and share pleasantries with those sitting next to me, my companions in the battle against elaborate equations and complex word problems. After class, I walk to the quad with a spring in my step, and find my debate partner Aditya Kulashekar there waiting for me. We speak about our latest tournament on our way to Mr. Becker’s room, where I will teach Parliamentary Debate after school. Supported by the inclusive structure of Westmont Speech and Debate, I’ve done, learned, and taught, in the process making unforgettable friendships. After debate, I make my way to the tennis courts, accompanied by my doubles partner, Tim Kaltenbach. On our way, we reminisce about our epic matches and prepare for another intensive workout under the scorching sun.
At Westmont, the people I speak with occupy more than just the concrete pavilion of the quad or the asphalt halls of the math wing—through our countless interactions, they give warmth and color to the memories of my high school career.
As my high school experience comes to an end, and my daily presence on Westmont’s campus becomes an increasingly distant memory, I find myself thinking about the small, seemingly insignificant interactions that comprised my days at school. I think fondly of the moments of social connection that at the time felt inconsequential but now are priceless: a lunch time catch-up with a long-time friend, a thunderous high-five as I pass my buddy in the hall, a brief moment of eye-contact with a classmate that I’ve never talked to but nonetheless feel like I know well. Now, with one week left of high school, I know what I will miss when I look back on my Westmont experience with nostalgia. I have found that while we look to the big moments—doing well on the final exam, getting the executive board position after months of hard work, being accepted into college—as our pathways to happiness and our benchmarks of satisfaction, it is in fact the small moments, the ones that seemingly pass by in an instant, that are remembered for a lifetime. As I look back I find a high school journey grounded in human connection and camaraderie, charmed by sacred moments of social communion.