Written By: Lane McArdell & Jillian Russell
The journey of education is a privilege, a challenge, and a joy. It starts at a young age, everyone runs around in the new and highly anticipated place that is school. The early days of one’s education are spent finger-painting, learning how to socialize with peers, and sounding out words. As time progresses, expectations are raised. One must sit quietly and respectfully through an assembly, they must raise their hands before speaking, and they must always clean up after themselves. Throughout the years spent at an elementary school, children’s brains absorb knowledge of early multiplication and division, the basics of the history and functions of our democracy, and soft, endearing literature that feeds the imagination. When a class has reached the full capacity of elementary knowledge they are promoted to a very different environment known as middle school. These two years are spent in a constant current of change. This time strengthens or reforms the mold that makes a student. As painful as times can be in this passage from childhood to young adulthood, it creates lasting experiences that ground and humble a young person. Eventually the struggles of middle school come to a close and the class moves up to the new and refreshing jungle that is high school. Although stereotypically, high school breaks a person down, it is more often a place where teenagers build their early opinions and ideas on topics relevant to their lives. It is a four year period of time where minds and bodies are changing, where they are completely vulnerable to new ideas and views. A time where high levels of knowledge absorption can be reached, if a teenager is willing. High school is the time to open up, the time to be vulnerable and feel humility, it is just another time in early life to build the groundwork of one’s self for later life.
And this is all school really is, it is the early and sturdy structure of a person’s character. This construction of self is not directed only in the education within the classroom, it is active in the interactions in the schoolyard, in the cafeteria, on the court or field, on the school bus. It happens in asking someone to dance. It occurs when one’s chest fills with pride from earning an A on a test. It’s when one forgets their lines in the school play. Or when you get into a fiery argument with a classmate during a class discussion. It’s when one’s name is mentioned during the announcements for their success in sports and their cheeks flush red. Education breeds humility, pride, feelings of accomplishment, intellect, and courage. We are all blessed to have the privilege to attend school and we must overcome the challenges that school brings so we can feel the joy that an education produces.
Our top achieving classmates have endured all that is school and received recognition for their hard work at this year’s Academic Rally. From introducing the 2018 valedictorians to awarding the nominees and finalists for Student of the Year, this event was very special and rewarding for our Sailor scholars. Senior Julia Gregory was excited to be named Student of the Year by the English Department for her dedication and passion for literature during her time at Newport Harbor. “It was such an honor to be chosen for this award, and it makes me truly understand just how much my teachers have appreciated my work in their classes,” she shares. Though we don’t often realize it, our efforts and unwavering diligence do not go unnoticed by our teachers in the classroom. But Gregory hasn’t just succeeded academically, she has also learned to let her imagination roam free in her writings, developing a voice throughout her high school career. “Every essay and assignment has room for creativity,” she explains. “And I think that has pushed me in the best way possible.” The Academic Rally also granted awards to students involved in the Performing Arts and the Student of the Year was senior Jade Mendoza. Since her freshman year, Mendoza has been a part of marching band, concert band, pit orchestra, choir, jazz band and drama, proving her love for the arts and creating a very impressive resume for herself. Honored and humbled to receive a plaque for her numerous efforts, Mendoza hopes that other students interested in engaging in the arts will take the leap and join. “I am always happier when I am performing because it makes my blood rush and the satisfaction of doing a great show after months, if not, years of hard work is indescribable,” she says. “It is an experience that I believe everyone needs to have at least once in their life.” Both of these young women have grown as scholars and as individuals while feeding their education and passion during their time at Newport Harbor.
The fifteen valedictorians of the 2018 senior class were also recognized at the rally, receiving an honorary medal in front of the student body and their closest friends and family. Casey Church was one of these successful students even though she wasn’t at all expecting such prestige in her senior year. “I never went into it with this goal in mind, it kind of just happened,” she explains. “But it’s really exciting to see all the work I did pay off.” After four years of rigorous courses and being a member of the IB Diploma Program, Church has developed a new perspective on how to be a successful student and make the most of her education. “The biggest thing is to take AP and IB classes and if you stay really organized and on top of your homework, you can do really well,” she advises. Being named valedictorian was a very rewarding experience for senior Zachary Becker who is also an IB Diploma student. Filled with determination and passion for learning, he has taken every opportunity to further expand his knowledge over the years. “The best advice I can give is to maintain high standards for yourself and keep your goals in perspective when making decisions that can affect your academic performance,” shares Becker. “Also accustom yourself to struggling and persevering to succeed because it will become easier with experience.”
Any student can achieve. They just need the optimism, dedication, and willingness to try. And here at Newport Harbor education remains to be our anchor and our guiding force for the future.