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Editor’s Notebook: Moving forward by looking back

By Kara Kubarych

I’ve never felt quite like this before. So deflated and nostalgic, yet so pumped up to run forward into the future, never looking back.

After spending the past ten years of my life as a student at Country Day, I am eager to jump into a bigger world, surround myself with fresh faces, new ideas, and another way of life. Yet every time I imagine myself leaving Country Day, I feel a tinge of hesitation, some little voice in my head saying, “Are you really ready to leave?”

This voice surprises me sometimes. I have not loved every minute of Country Day. There were days in middle school-prime time for girl drama and emotional instability-when I wanted to leave the place, running. But then Ms. White would suck me back into Geography class, inspiring me to construct my own little country named Machanga. Mr. Erickson would guide me in writing my very first piece of fiction called “Lucky.” And Señora Brady, with her sonrisa grandísima, would envelop me in the beauty and wonder of Spanish language and culture.

I was continually torn between unease and satisfaction. Some days I was entranced by school, and others I just wanted to escape. I thought the solution to my problem would be to transfer to a different high school. But after three weeks at Canyon Crest Academy, I realized I had made a big mistake. And so I had to decide whether to gut it out in a new school where I felt truly out of place, or go back to a place, though challenging at times, where I was, in my heart, happy. Suffice it to say, I took a deep breath and chose the latter.

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Until I left and came back, I never really appreciated Country Day for what it is. I began to see that no institution is perfect. I can say for a fact that I never have been offered drugs at Country Day, and more importantly, I never have been in a class where the teacher does not sincerely care about the students. But this isn’t a game of comparing two completely different schools. It is, however, an exercise in introspection and understanding.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that problems are rarely, if ever, fixed with superficial, band-aid solutions, or by running away. Leaving Country Day seemed like a logical way to cure my unhappiness at the time. But in facing my fears and the root causes of my complaints, I changed my thinking and behavior, which allowed me to stay at Country Day and participate through contribution and commitment.

This school has taught me how to be tough-how to rise to the occasion. Instead of receding from a challenge, I have always been encouraged to step up and take it on. When an opportunity for change or progress has arisen, I’ve been spurred to seize it and to advocate for what I believe. Needless to say, inciting change is never easy, especially not in a school with a distinct culture like Country Day’s. But I know that my voice is heard here. I know that some teacher or faculty member or fellow student cares.

I’ve also learned that change doesn’t have to mean saving the world. Change can mean reversing an opponent’s view in a class debate, or enlightening a teacher with an original thesis, or understanding the magic behind a chemical reaction. Growing and maturing through change can be frustrating and confusing at times, but the reward is worth it.

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Defending Hernán Cortes in Profe Power’s class, breeding red-eyed fruit flies with Dr. Domanico, blogging about the Election for Shulman, and traveling with him to witness the swearing in of President Obama were all experiences that helped me evolve into the graduating senior that I am today.

Sure, the memories aren’t all shiny. The countless hours of memorization, multiple-choice answers that never seemed right, late nights, and college-prep insanity don’t bring tears of joy to my eyes. But they were part of the journey and taught me more about persistence, determination, and hard work than the more glorious moments ever could have.

For me, Country Day has been a window-one which I spent a long time looking out of, only to realize that I needed to look in. When I thought the stress and drama of school were unbearable, I’d push myself to move forward. And each time, I’d learn something new about myself and those around me.

As I prepare to walk across the Amphitheatre like I’ve done on so many occasions, I will remember both the good times and the hard times I’ve had at Country Day. Because they have brought me to this point. This exciting, terrifying, completely unprecedented point in my life, when I will walk, for the last time, across that Amphitheatre to receive my high school diploma and step off the Country Day stage to a new life full of new beginnings.