Stop the press: The Howl’s graduating seniors look back at four years at East

According to the American novelist Ernest Hemingway, “I rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms — the last page of it — 39 times before I was satisfied.” And while there may be a number of young people reading this, thinking to themselves, “Saying goodbye shouldn’t be that challenging. Just go. Get it over with. I’m def ready to get gone,” there’s a certain amount of wisdom that will one day remind this year’s graduating seniors — both at East and across the nation — that what they’re actually doing this spring requires bravery that they somehow imagined only Hemingway could muster.

Saying goodbye requires a bit of urgency: if you stay too long, it will look too much like you’re never going to leave. Saying goodbye requires a trustworthy memory: once you go, the only piece of that place that you’ll always be able to truly visit again as it is today will be within your head and your heart. Saying goodbye also requires a commitment: sometimes leaving a place means not coming back, moving on — otherwise, what’s the point of a farewell party when you’re going to wander those high school hallways for the rest of your life? And, ultimately, saying goodbye requires some thoughtful, well-chosen words. An incredibly capable vocabulary. Because this is your last chance to say it. Fail to get it right now, and you’ll be haunted forever by what we’ve come to know as stairwell conversations, all those things you wish you would have said, having fled the scene a little too hastily.

So as the Howl congratulates all of the nation’s graduating seniors — and especially those graduating from East this spring — the publication that’s given voice to so many high school students provides one more opportunity for this spring’s graduating staffers to say goodbye.

As you did while on staff, don’t forget in life to always ask the right questions. Choose your sources wisely. Check your spelling, please. Then proofread. And don’t forget to follow those rules of AP Style, if only for once.

— Justin Howard Query

Aryav Bothra

While I can’t say that my high school experience was quite like the ones you see on the big screen, it’s still something I’m thankful for. I came into these past four years with big — perhaps universal — academic goals: get good grades, pursue interesting extracurriculars, and get into a good college. And while I can definitely say I’ve accomplished those goals, as I look back on my high school years preparing to move to Yale in the fall, there’s a lot more to celebrate than this end result. 

Through the various classes I’ve taken and teachers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, I’ve grown in how I view and approach the world. Whether it was getting into politics in Mr. Query’s AP English class or debating foreign policy in Mrs. Walter’s Model UN Club, I learned to think more critically about current events. Learning about the intertwining of calculus and science in Mr. Holub’s physics class, I vowed to continue exploring quantitative sciences in the future. 

And no recap of my high school experience would be complete without mentioning my time with the Journalism program. Three years and 29 published articles later, I wouldn’t be the same person today without the people I’ve met through this class. In finding my niche writing plant-based food reviews or interviewing people to learn more about their lives, I enjoy combining others’ perspectives with my own voice. And it was truly because of the editors my sophomore year who showed me just how fun and exciting student journalism could be that I’m still here three years later.

Beyond the classroom, it was really the people who sparked my self-growth these past four years. From my friends I learned to be more social, comfortable in who I am, and to find joy even in small moments of connection. All the laughs and memories are what you will remember at the end of the day. And in the end, that’s what high school is all about: taking what you learn from your experiences with others to further develop who you are. 

The freedom that comes with college can be exhilarating but nerve-racking simultaneously. By spending time in high school discovering your interests and identity — both academic and social — you learn that true independence comes from being comfortable in who you are. Surround yourself with friends, family, and mentors who help you along that journey and don’t patronize, belittle, or hinder self-growth.

Amidst all the awkward phases and growing pains, high school — and East — had a lot to offer me. It’s not a place or experience I cherished every single second of the way but one that I realize was necessary and influential in shaping myself. Even if I found some people annoying or assignments unnecessary, East is no doubt a formative experience. 

And for that, I’m thankful.

Beliah Christian

Graduation is something that felt so far away from when I first entered high school. It still does. I can’t believe that after four years, I’ll be leaving behind the friends that I’ve made, the teachers who’ve helped me grow, and the memories I’ll come to cherish forever. A chapter of my life will close and I’ll venture forth to begin a new one. It’s a bittersweet ending, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a freshman, the halls felt like a never-ending abyss filled to the brim with people who were strangers. I felt out of place in this environment and it was hard to adjust to at first. But it’s important to consider that you aren’t the only one who’s experiencing that same feeling. That little piece of knowledge gave me the reassurance I needed that everything would be okay, even if I didn’t know it at the time. 

Sophomore year will forever remain one of my favorites. Even though the pandemic and quarantine ended it too soon, I’m grateful for all of the fun that I did get to experience. Sporting events with friends, late night sleepovers, and hectic after school activities are just a fraction of my time at East, not just sophomore year. 

Junior year. Let’s just say that it was a … rollercoaster of emotions that had a profound impact on my life. I was disconnected from my best friends, confined to my home for over a year, and could only sit by watching the world crumble around me. Life is filled with obstacles that constantly knock you down, but in the midst of it all, there is always something that brings much needed joy into your life. Amongst the chaos of quarantine, I was able to become closer with my family, adapting a thankful attitude and open perspective. Although junior year wasn’t ideal, it was still a memorable experience that I will never forget. 

Now we arrive at senior year. The transition between high school and preparing for college. In all honesty, it is not what I expected it to be at first. The sense of normalcy I once had as a freshman was pretty much nonexistent once I entered my final year. However, senior year has taught me to adapt to situations that are out of my comfort zone without abandoning a fun-loving, positive attitude. I continued to live my life the way I wanted to, engaging in opportunities that surprisingly, wouldn’t have been quite possible without the pandemic. 

Journalism. A class that I decided to partake in to fill my schedule. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much it would benefit me as an individual. My writing skills have improved to a level where I’m able to pour out my heart’s content on a sheet of paper without hesitation. The relationships I’ve made between my fellow classmates who also shared similar interests as me is something that is irreplaceable. For those things, I’m immensely appreciative of journalism and its impact on my life. 

Graduation is just a ways away and my time here at East will end. It’s a bittersweet ending, knowing not only just how much of an impression high school has made on me, but how big of a footprint I’ll leave behind. Some people can’t wait to get out of high school, but for me? I’ll definitely miss all the good times I’ve had here. Thanks for all the memories, Oswego East. Perhaps we’ll meet again.

Charles Jaegle

Complaining is easy. Complaining about the school food, the excessive homework, and the difficult AP classes fall amongst various other things at East that we’re all guilty of complaining about, myself included.  

With less than two weeks until I walk the stage to graduate from high school, I’ve noticed myself soaking in everything I’ve sworn to hate from high school, knowing that it will never come again. I figured that it’s time to give thanks and appreciate the school that has given so much to us throughout our years here.

So thank you, East, for welcoming nearly 3,000 students everyday with open arms. Thank you for bringing the student body together and allowing us to socialize everyday with kids from all across the town. 

Thank you, East, for allowing me to meet some of my best friends in these short four years. I’m forever in debt to this school for the amazing people that it brought into my hands and the experiences I got to share with them here. Whether it’s prom or just joking around at the lunch table, these are memories that I’ll hold on to for a lifetime.

Thank you, East, for providing the students with a staff full to the brim with teachers that have guided me every step of the way onto the graduation stage.

Thank you, East, for giving me a chance to play four years of football with a group of men I’m honored to call my family. The lessons that the game and the coaches have taught me of persistence and mental toughness are ones that are sure to influence me for the rest of my life, and I’m forever grateful. 

And finally, thank you to The Howl. The work I’ve done with this publication went above and beyond all my expectations I had as an incoming junior taking this course for the first time. Through my experience with The Howl, journalism went from a small hobby of mine to something that I want to pursue as a full time career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing staff and the guidance from our sponsor, Mr. Query.

High school coming to an end hit me a lot harder than I anticipated. Sure, I complained about many things throughout my time at East, and definitely took a lot of experiences for granted. In retrospect, perhaps what made these experiences so memorable was the people that I did it with. I know that the best still lies ahead for myself, as well as everyone else in the graduating class of 2022. Although I do hope that the paths of the people I met along the way cross again later down the road.

So, as cliché as it is, this isn’t a goodbye. Just a see-you-later.

Payton McCullum

Finally, it’s over. I’ve made it. Four long, grueling years of high school, finished. High school has been one of the most unique experiences of my life, an experience I never want to go through again. But from the top of the mountain, I can look down at everything I have accomplished, and I must say, it’s quite the view.

Being a freshman is probably the scariest thing you can do as a student. You move into a new school you’ve never been to, you sit in classes with people you’ve never met before, you learn subjects that you didn’t even know existed. It’s intimidating. Freshman year is your introduction to the next three years of your life, and at that point, it’s not looking too good. 

At this point, the best thing you can do is lock in on the things you love the most. For me, that was sports, writing, and music. Without these, I would have lost my sanity by my second year. Having something to look forward to during the day, even if it’s something as simple as a single class in your schedule, may be all you need to stay motivated in school.

Senior year, I got the opportunity to experience that in full when I joined The Howl. After finding a bunch of gaps in my schedule, I decided to fill them with new subjects that had always interested me. I had never practiced proper journalism, so I had no idea what I was signing up for. I had no idea what I was doing. In all honesty, I still have no idea what I’m doing but the results speak for themselves. The Howl gave me the opportunity to write about the things I wanted to write about, a privilege that almost no other English classes yield. It was refreshing to be able to take a break from being a student and become a reporter. Seeing articles published in my name was one of the many amazing things I was able to be a part of. Quite frankly, it’s still a great feeling at this point.

Looking forward, as my days as an OE student count down, I can truly say that high school, despite the lows, has definitely been worth staying for the highs. I discovered a lot about myself in the last four years. My senior year has ultimately been the deciding factor in my fields of study in the future. Although I would never willingly go through it again, high school has truly shaped me into the person I am today.

I guess this is goodbye to Oswego East High School. I won’t miss the freshmen who don’t know how to navigate a hallway properly, or the strict substitute teachers, or the 40-minute in-class essays. But I will miss my favorite teachers, classes, coaches, and people that I have met. The lessons I’ve learned, the memories I’ve made, the ups, the downs: it was all worth it to get where I am now.

The view from the top of the mountain is a wonderful sight, and I hope everyone reaches the top of theirs, too.

Peace out, OE!

Annika Srivastava

High school is a time for growth and self discovery — a time to evolve into a mature and independent person. Reflecting on my time at East, growing into the person I am today could not be possible without two things: the opportunities and relationships. 

When I wanted to join The Howl to improve my writing skills, even though I had never written a review or news story before, I could. When I wanted to join the East Model United Nations team, even though I was a shy public speaker, I could. When I wanted to play on the golf team, even though I had never played nine holes before, I could. My lack of experience in these areas did not prevent me from trying new things but instead allowed me to pursue unique opportunities to develop my interests and goals.  

For anyone who is unsure of their aspirations and interests, try out as many clubs and activities as you can — you will be welcomed with open arms. 

While taking advantage of these opportunities, I formed meaningful relationships with other students and teachers to support my academic and social aspirations. Although my high school experience was online for almost two years, it was amazing to see how I could continue to connect with others — even if it was through Google Meets. 

Being a part of The Howl’s staff this year was a wonderful opportunity to make connections with other students in unexpected ways. Whether it was talking to hundreds of students about where they read their news or interviewing a student about her activism as a Palestinian, I found myself in a melting pot of ideas, values, and experiences. In most parts of high school, learning is confined to the classroom. At The Howl, learning is accomplished by stepping outside of the traditional classroom boundaries and immersing yourself into the world of sports, entertainment, and clubs. 

Due to these new connections and experiences, I have transformed from a reluctant freshman into an ambitious senior. Looking ahead, I am excited to apply everything that I have learned from high school, especially from The Howl, to my future endeavors. Embrace every opportunity at your fingertips and form as many connections as you can — I know that I sure will in this new chapter of my life.

Teddy Wynard

The screech of a bus as it came to a stop. A short freshman hopping on for the first time ever as a high school student. That was me four years ago. Now I’m a pretty tall senior who’s got a lot to look back on and remember. As I sit here writing this, two big things pop into my head about my time at East. Yearbook and Digital Journalism. They’re the two main factors into why I’m heading into a career of Journalism and Sports Media.

First came yearbook, where as a sophomore I sat down in Mrs. Calvey’s F222 classroom that really became my second home. That and the lab across the hall: F221. I was introduced into the world of design, interviewing, writing, editing, and publishing. When I took the class I didn’t know it would be my future but one day that changed. The day of SPC Conference in 2020. That day I took third in caption writing and sixth in copywriting. That night I remember telling my mom as we were talking into dinner: “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” And I ran with that. Creating three books over my time on the yearbook staff and fully diving into that part of my life, but it wasn’t always the easiest road.

That same sophomore year a day no one will forget rolled around. March 13th, 2020. The day the world went into lockdown. As the days passed people realized it would never be the same. We opened up our Chromebooks and said hi through a screen, submitted work through google classroom, and lied in bed all day doing school work. The yearbook staff my junior year was able to create a book that is now in almost every classroom across the country and personally I couldn’t have been more proud. As I said, this was my junior year so I still had one more year left.

My senior year was the year I added Digital Journalism to my already busy schedule. It was the right decision for me. Just as I made a family in yearbook I made a family in that class too. Learning to write different types of stories for the online newspaper gave me the opportunity to find out what I truly liked in journalism and that was sports. The chance to go to a packed basketball gym and witness great things then write about it after gives me chills at the thought. The good kind of chills that is. This part of my day was one I always looked forward to because I found joy in what I was doing.

And to all of this I say thank you. Thank you to Mrs. Calvey in yearbook and Mr. Query in digital journalism for pushing me outside of my comfort zone and giving me the tools I need to be successful in the future. And to East, thank you for giving me the best high school experience I could’ve ever asked for.

Congratulations to the senior staff of the Howl and congratulations to all of the 2022 senior graduates!

Good luck in all that you do!

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