Hayes Swan Song: Do Something Different, Do Something More

Megan Hayes, Editor-in-Chief

I never saw cheerleaders breaking out into song while doing backflips off cafeteria tables. I never had to solve a murder-mystery in after school detention. And perhaps the biggest shock, I was never expected to wear pink on Wednesdays. 

However, something did happen; I had fun. Before high school, I used to tease people who looked back at high school like it was the most monumental moment of their lives. How could four years of your life, let alone as a teenager, hold such a grip over the adults around me? Now, while I still am not convinced that high school is the end-all be-all, I will definitely be looking back with fond memories, of which, many were made in room 1400. 

Joining the newspaper staff was probably the craziest decision I’ve made in my 18 years. A prospective STEM major joining an English elective—a course that could have been replaced by cybersecurity, aerospace, DE physics etc.— was, as previously mentioned, crazy. Instead, it actually turned out to be one of the most rational decisions I’ve ever made. 

Newspaper took me out of my comfort zone. As a proud INTJ, my “I” is pretty pronounced. Interviewing people who I’ve never met, physically finding them and holding a conversation with direct eye contact was a scene freshman Megan saw in her nightmares. The first time I listened back to one of my interviews, transcribing quotes, I legitimately cringed at the awkward laughs, stuttered questioning, and outright weird aura I emitted. However, like any other skill, I learned with practice. The rigid questioning became conversations where I was able to learn more about my peers and feel a sense of community. Though, unfortunately, the stuttering stubbornly stood stagnant. 

As I broke out of my shell, I also started to learn new skills such as website and social media management, research, graphic design, fundraising, marketing, etc. But perhaps one of the most important skills I learned was how to be informed. As cliché as it is, knowledge is power. Knowing how masks can prevent the spread of diseases can save lives. Knowing a politician’s views on important issues can change world events. To quote my government teacher, Joshua Dobbs, “the most important office in America is the office of a citizen” (which I’m pretty sure he stole from Barack Obama, but I digress). 

Hopping off my literary soap box, let me proceed to the real reason you’re reading this article (if you’ve gotten this far): my advice — do something different, do something more. 

Doing something different is probably the last thing you want to use your time for in high school. All of you aspiring doctors and lawyers out there probably want to fill your time up with debate, academic team, volunteer work, officer positions and so on. And yes, do that. It’s very important to develop key skills and build your resume. But, I would argue it’s just as important to be well-rounded. Knowing and cultivating a limited range of skills will also limit what you can accomplish. I’m not peer pressuring you to join newspaper (though I’m biased and think you should check it out), but newspaper has taught me how to properly research for lab reports, communicate through interview skills and networking, and learn how to effectively teach complex, scattered information into something tangible, understandable. To sum it up, I implore and challenge you to branch out of your comfort zone. 

Doing something more is probably the last piece of advice you would expect a semi-burnt-out senior in her fourth quarter to recommend. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of days where I was up till 2 a.m. with nothing but a monster energy fueling me and still had to set my alarm for 5 a.m. to finish up, but I would do it all again. Pushing myself to go the extra mile, taking the extra class, joining the extra club all set me up to take on any task. Balance and mental health are very important, but so is taking up the challenge. Know yourself and your limits. Some of my best memories came out of staying after school until 8 p.m., laughing with my friends as we raced against an 11:59 p.m. deadline. 

My high school experience may not be featured as the next coming-of-age film on Netflix’s top ten, but I have high hopes for the college sequel. 

So, as with my final words to this publication, I leave you with this: do something different, do something more. Thank you for the experience, Rock Ridge High School.