The Last Word

The senior staff members get an “open-mic” for their last article


Savannah Schultis, Ella Katona, Addie Kania, Alyssa Hillwig, Becca Beckas, Frank Babicka, Aidan Brophy and Dom DiTommaso

by Savannah Schultis

One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is “Day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different.” When I was a freshman I thought I wanted to go to medical school to become a neurologist. I thought I would be friends with certain people forever. I thought I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything. I thought I had it all figured out. Although I was wrong about so much, I’m thankful for the mindset that I had because it gave me room to grow into the person I am today.
The high school used to feel so big to me, both literally and figuratively— but now it feels so small. I filled in the empty spaces that existed when I first arrived. I found a love for science, music, and writing. I found friends that are supportive and make me feel my best. Most importantly, I found myself.
I learned that although change is difficult, it’s necessary in order to grow. You never realize how much you have to grow until you look back and see how far you’ve come. I’ve learned to embrace change and look forward to how much more there is to learn.
For once in my life, I’m comfortable with who I am as a person and can say that I’m proud of myself. I’m very thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned over the past four years and the memories that I made. I encourage you to go out of your comfort zone, no matter how big or small. I’ve realized that I’d rather face the moment of fear that comes with leaving my comfort zone than look back on my life with regret.
I still don’t have it all figured out, but I never will — and that’s okay. At least I’m getting somewhere.

by Ella Katona

This year has been an insane journey. It feels like it was only a year ago when I was in 8th grade and we were doing a small tour of the high school for the very first time. Whenever everyone tells you that the next four years of your high school career will fly by, remember those words and make sure to take every single memory in while you are here, because before you know it you will be planning out the next steps of your new chapters in life.
I will miss all of the moments I have had in this place, honestly. I have made so many friends that, even if I do not hang out with them due to being out of state at college, are people I would love to stay in contact with for years to come. I will miss my teachers who have had such a huge impact on my life and I thank those who worked so hard to make me the student I am today. I will cherish all of the wonderful times and always hold them in my heart.
Work hard. Take care of yourself. Take failures as a lesson, not a “punishment.” Try new things. Make new friends. Most importantly: make memories.

by Dominic DiTommaso

Here’s some unsolicited advice you did not ask for that you don’t know you need: have fun. One of the reasons I look back so fondly on high school is that I enjoyed it.
There were some things my friends and I would do that we thought were pretty funny, and once I had a friend come to me and say, “Why do you guys do that? It’s immature and beneath you.” And I tried explaining that we can never have this kind of fun again. We’ll have fun in the future, but it will be a different kind of fun. This is the only time in your life you can live this way. Once you leave, things will change. There are things you will never get back,so enjoy it. High school is supposed to be fun. Yes, work hard and study hard, but enjoy yourself. You don’t want to look back 20 years from now and say “Man, I wish I would’ve had more fun.”
Next, I find it interesting that earlier this year, there was a debate over whether or not we should go to single-colored caps and gowns, or stick with the all-blue and all-white. And it struck me that every year we’ve been here, each and every one of us have been taught that the key to success is individuality! And here we were discussing whether or not to wear identical outfits. So to that, I say: be yourself. I once told a friend that my perfect Friday night is watching a Yankees game at home. He laughed at me and said it was stupid. I didn’t care. It made me happy. Do what makes you happy. Who cares what anyone else thinks? Be who you want to be and embrace it. Don’t try to do what you think will make others happy, and definitely don’t try to be someone else. That role is filled. We need someone to be you. Nobody can be a better you than you, so be it.
Minor Myers Jr. once declared “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” I know many seniors have the tangibles and intangibles to do well. Even more have the same to do good. And that’s something that can’t be taught in a high school classroom.

by Alyssa Hillwig

If you told freshman me that in three years I would be writing a farewell for the newspaper, I would have thought you were crazy. I wouldn’t have been able to believe that I’ve made it this far, both as a person and as a writer. Thinking about it even now, so much had to go right for this moment to come.
I needed to start by learning how to become a better writer. As a freshman, I knew I had the potential, and like every other subject, all I ever wanted to do was keep climbing until I reached a point where I could look back on my work and be proud of it. I wanted to be the best at everything, and writing was one place I knew I could make decent progress.
I needed to make connections. I had a solid foundation of friends, but all I can really remember was wishing I could just break out of my shell and leave my comfort zone to make lasting friendships and connections with more people. I wanted to create an environment where I could be remembered as a good, well-rounded individual, but I had no clue where to start.
I had to become more confident. My biggest problem came from never being able to accept my own power; nothing I produced or participated in ever felt like it was good enough. I needed to become okay with what I was capable of and stop undermining all of my own accomplishments.
And I did it. Despite everything, I was able to use my time in high school as my chance to overcome all of the fears I had and finally become the person that I always knew was deep down inside of me somewhere. Alongside the millions of memories I made, I didn’t just learn how to write, or learn how to reach out, or learn how to be confident in myself and my work, but I took every opportunity I could to experience so much more.
I learned that I was probably better at calculus than I let myself believe, and that I loved learning biology. I learned that I was a pretty good musician, and that I could really make a difference in the music program here if I cared and tried enough. I learned that you didn’t have to know how to memorize lines to be a real part in a theatrical production.
I learned some French, and that “Un homme qui sait deux langues en vaut deux”. I learned what Duck Hunt is, that Toy Story is actually a really good movie, and that most people don’t know how to correctly pronounce Reese’s Pieces.
I learned that if you believe in something, you can fight for it and make your community a better place. I learned who my real friends are, and how important it is to meet people and understand that the people who don’t care aren’t meant to be in my life for the long run. Most importantly, I began to learn who I am, and that it’s okay to not be totally sure of everything all the time. I could not be more grateful for it all.

by Aidan Brophy

As I’m writing this, surrounded by my fellow seniors on a boat going down one of the three rivers, I find myself reflecting on the past few years. I also find myself getting a tad bit seasick, but that’s besides the point. That point being, in this instance, that the class of 2022 is in the home stretch.
I’m still not sure how I feel about that, really. I know that the general consensus is something along the lines of ‘thank God we’re finally getting out of here,’ but I don’t think I’m in that crowd.
That’s partially because there are still things I’m working on, things I need to get done before the end of the year, but it’s also because this is something that we’ve done for the past 12+ years, and we’re leaving it all behind and, for the most part, going our separate ways.
If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t really want to try to explore and vent those feelings in a newspaper article. So instead, I’ll talk about the newspaper itself, something I know I’ll remember fondly when I’m looking back on this chapter of my life.
I got my start in journalism with Mr. Duermeyer in 7th grade, but fell off the tracks, so to speak, the next year. However, I certainly enjoyed the time spent discussing potential story topics over Frank’s pizza in his classroom after school.
After that, newspaper wasn’t really in the front of my mind. I knew it was an option, but I felt like I had too much going on in terms of electives and a language class. That was, until sophomore year.
Apparently, my writing was enough to have Mr. Schott approach me, among many others, about joining the newspaper. I dropped my lunch for the first semester of junior year, and in exchange, I got Journalism first period for the whole year. Suffice it to say, I made the right decision.
For the past two years, first period has been one of the highlights of my day. From messing around with the rest of the staff to tossing ideas around for stories or activities, it’s almost always been a good time.
Sure, it’s had its ups and downs, and I may not have liked every single story I wrote, but nothing is ever going to be perfect. The ups more than made up for the downs.
Visiting the Flight 93 Memorial. Being part of a virtual magic show. Helping put together a Schott-themed Oracle issue. Trying (and failing) to organize staff outings. Interviewing some big names. We did a whole lot.
I gotta say, I’m fairly certain it was worth it.

by Frank Babicka

“And now the end is here and so I face that final curtain,” Frank Sinatra begins in “My Way”.

I still don’t believe that this is the final curtain.  The end of senior year feels like a dream, one that I’ll wake up from and start high school all over again.  Sometimes, I want to start again because of fear of the unknown, fear of what I’ll find next year.  Other times it’s because of regrets I have from the past that I wish to remedy.

There are opportunities I look back on that I wish I had taken, decisions I made that I wish I hadn’t.  Yet, I am amazed at how even despite these regrets, there’s so little that I would change.  How much would I have to sacrifice to fix these mistakes?  Is it possible to live without regrets?

My advice is to let those regrets go.  There’s no way to live completely without regret and there’s no way to fix those regrets.  Let them slip away, like sweat in the rain.  Whenever you’re faced with an opportunity that you’re hesitating to take, take the chance.  The worst that happens is that you fall on your face, but at least you tried.  I know I wish I had.

Even despite these regrets, these opportunities that I let pass me by, I’m going to miss Shaler — all the Shaler circles, the mold, the food, and all the other strange occurrences. This place is home.  Goodbye is the hardest word to say.  And there’s no way to say goodbye to these halls, these stairs, and these people.  So instead, I’ll just say farewell.

by Addison Kania

I would like to thank two teachers who made my time in high school so much better. Thank you to Ms. Scott for letting us come into her room every morning to hangout and for always being there for me.
She truly cares about each and every student and works incredibly hard every day to brighten the days of people around her.
I would also like to thank Mr. White for always looking out for me and making high school a lot more fun. He is always there to make you smile and is able to bring the positives out of any situation. I truly appreciate all that they have done for me throughout the years.

by Rebecca Beckas

At the finish line of my high school year, I want to reflect on everything it took to get here; the people I’ve crossed paths with, the journeys I’ve been on, the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve been, and the memories I’ve made.

I really don’t even know where I would start, but I guess maybe I’d say that the person I am today is completely different from squirrelly ninth grade me, but for the better. For someone who entered high school with little involvement or intentions for anything, that could not be any further from the person I am now. I am grateful for what I’ve had the opportunity to do and experience these past 4 years, such as student government, art, percussion, piano, musical, honor societies, and of course, choir, competitive dance, dance team, and newspaper.

Sure, I’ve done cool things with these groups, like perform for auditoriums full of people, or march down Main Street USA, or even win a national journalism award, but what I’ll remember most are the people who have impacted me in a positive way that have made my 4 years so great, specifically, my teachers, as well as my friends that are always so supportive of whatever I am doing. While I don’t want to write a grocery list of all these people, I think they know who they are, and I’m grateful for the impact they have which makes leaving so hard. Along with that, I have discovered so many passions, even if I do joke sometimes that I have no dreams, goals, or ambitions leaving high school.

So even though I do have so many positive memories, my biggest regret, I think, is being so set on one path for myself that I believed was the best and most practical, closing off my options for anything else. That would be my biggest piece of advice: don’t limit yourself to what you think is the best option, but be willing to explore and try new things, even if it’s not something that you originally thought you would do.

While this is something I may have done throughout certain aspects of high school, I wish I would’ve done it more instead of being so pessimistic and set on one thing. Anyway, I don’t want to take up any more time giving you unsolicited advice, so I’ll wrap this up.

One last piece of advice though: embrace being yourself. I am not the same person I was four years ago because I realized I didn’t need every single person’s approval just to be kind of comfortable with who I was. I have a terrible memory, but if I remember one specific thing, it is the quote from a certain teacher in this school, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it” and I will never forget that.

So lastly, I want to especially thank Mr. Schott, because I want his work as a teacher to be recognized, because without his encouragement I would not have joined newspaper, would not have won multiple awards, and would not be writing this piece right now showing my gratitude for giving us the opportunities and friendliness that he has.