Faith Abernathy, Emily Dudash, Nic Cazin and Levi Holland share a moment together on Senior Day.
Faith Abernathy, Emily Dudash, Nic Cazin and Levi Holland share a moment together on Senior Day.

Howler staffers pen one last word

This year, seven graduates represent The Howler. Read on as they close this chapter, but not the book.
A love letter to Wakefield
A love letter to Wakefield

In my mind, Wakefield High School was never the place I was supposed to be. 

I had a want to go somewhere else, refusing to accept this place where I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. I had just come from a small school, a place where we grew up beside each other and knew one another’s faults and strengths. The size of my freshman class at Wakefield, despite not seeing them in person for a year, was the same as the middle and high school combined at my old school. 

To say I was terrified was an understatement. 

Online school was no problem for me – after all, I didn’t have to interact with a single person if I didn’t want to. My classmates were simply profile pictures on a screen, the homework was a joke and all I had to do was log on each day at the same time. But when we started going in person every other week, I cried and begged my parents to let me stay home. 

The beginning of sophomore year was the same, except now we were fully in person. I woke up each day with anxiety bubbling in my stomach and the urge to stay home. Still, I showed up and I tried to make the best of the situation. Taking technical theater and newspaper introduced me to groups of people with similar interests, and I made my first few friends at Wakefield in these classes. 

I applied and applied for transfers, but none of them went through. By second semester, I had lost all hope and began trying to enjoy being at Wakefield and setting my roots in the community here. My friends who were a year older than me helped me feel comfortable here, inviting me to events and encouraging me to get involved with clubs. The newspaper allowed me to see Wakefield through a new lens and inspired me to get my love and passion for writing once more. 

Now I’m faced with the same dilemma. Starting over at an entirely new school, even a new state, is beyond terrifying. But looking back on what I originally thought was the end of the world for me, I realized I need to go to college with an open mind and try everything and anything. 

Thank you, Wakefield High School. You’ve taught me how to adapt and grow a community, and I don’t think I could go to the University of Iowa without all the experiences you’ve provided me with. 

3-year-old Emily pets her black lab, Vegas.
The people who make us feel whole

Towards the end of my sophomore year, Ms. Tekotte asked me to stay after school to talk about next year’s class. With the sweat from my palms creating an outline of my shaky hands on the desk, she smiled. 

“I want you to be my Editor-in-Chief next year,” she said. My face lit up. All of my hard work that year wasn’t going unnoticed.

“With Nic.” My smile faded away.

Nic? I had talked to Nic once that year, maybe twice if you count the time they gave me a ride home and we sat in awkward silence for all six minutes. I was nervous, unsure as to how I was going to work with someone so unfamiliar to me and who I had nothing in common with. 

I wasn’t sure this was going to work. 

That summer, we spent over 40 hours planning out every detail of our newspaper class and strengthening our friendship. Our first day of school and every day after that, we leaned on each other for support, heard each other’s crazy proposals and collaborated on project after project in every shared class. 

Nic turned out to be one of my biggest supporters; they cheered me on when I was at my highest, and listened to me when I was at my lowest. They gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever had, and made me feel like I could tell them anything from the dumbest to the deepest of topics.

If high school taught me one thing, it’s that sometimes the people who make you feel whole aren’t the ones who are exactly like you. Maybe they are different. Maybe you don’t have anything in common with them. But those are the people who challenge you to be your best self. Thank you, Wakefield High School, for introducing me to people like Nic, and for teaching me that the best of friendships can come from unconventional places. 


3-year-old Emily pets her black lab, Vegas. (Emily Dudash)
Jordan McIntyre sitting in her favorite chair at grandmas house. She was always holding her Dora or Mickey Mouse stuffed animal.
The next chapter

Going into high school, I was a victim of a lack of confidence. I rarely shared my voice thinking that people wouldn’t want to hear it. I told myself that by the end of high school  I would change–that I would be a different person.

I wish that I could tell the girl I see in old photos, despite her eagerness to see the future, that it all worked out for a reason. The broken friendships and breakups that felt so painful, taught me lessons of security and showed me that I must love myself before I can pass that love onto others. Failed tests, missing assignments and overwhelming amounts of homework cured me of my fear of failure and made me appreciate my successes even more. 

During the last four years, I have accomplished more than I ever felt was possible for myself, from being President of the Math Honor Society to winning first place in a state-wide baking competition. This never would have happened if I hadn’t become confident in myself and found peace and security for what the future had in store for me. 

Instead of worrying about the future, I want to relish every moment of this next month, remember turning my tassel, hearing my name called to receive my diploma and taking one last look at every classmate’s face one more time before we go our separate ways. We’ll be in different cities, retire our maroon and wear new school colors, meet people in the future who remind us of one another, and gradually move into adulthood.

After 12 short years of school, I’m about to wear my cap and gown, say goodbye to friends and teachers, and stand in disbelief that the time that seemed so far away is finally here.

Jordan McIntyre sitting in her favorite chair at grandma’s house. She was always holding her Dora or Mickey Mouse stuffed animal. (Jordan McIntyre)
Leveling up: my academic journey
Leveling up: my academic journey

With my first year of high school completely virtual and in Orlando, Florida, starting here at Wakefield sophomore year without a familiar face in sight was absolutely terrifying. No matter how many “expectation vs. reality” videos I watched, I didn’t know what to expect. Realizing that the people I met my first year here would be some of my closest friends and biggest supporters is something no video could have prepared me for.

Through the connections I made, the school that once reminded me of the set of High School Musical no longer felt as intimidating. The classes were longer than I was used to, but that offered me more time to complete work, feel well-adjusted in the classrooms and talk to the people around me. Gradually, I started to feel more at home and Wakefield became a place of comfort and growth.

The classes I’ve taken during high school have challenged me and helped me figure out the path I would like to take. Before stepping foot into Wakefield, I had yet to decide what I wanted to study in college or become, but I slowly learned my strengths and weaknesses and landed on a study I am passionate about. The guidance from my teachers and the curriculum helped shape my academic interests.

However, it wasn’t just the classes that helped shape my vision of who I wanted to become, but also the extracurricular activities I explored. Through the multitude of honor societies and the arts offered here, I met the most inspiring, brilliant and caring people who helped me see my potential and learn about myself. These activities provided a space to develop my skills and discover new interests.

Throughout every experience in high school, I have learned some valuable lessons. Whether it be internal, such as learning to manage my stress levels and know what I can and can’t handle emotionally, or external, such as how to surround myself with healthy, successful people, every lesson has been one that will help me throughout the rest of my life. These challenges and triumphs have molded me into a more resilient and self-aware individual.

Now that I have completed my four rocky years of high school, it is time to bring every lesson and experience to college, where I will continue learning, growing and exploring life’s wonders. My journey at Wakefield has prepared me well for the next chapter, and I am excited about the future, armed with the knowledge and experiences from these formative years.

Levi Holland
The greatest leap

When you’re a kid, school is all there is. Your parents disappear to work, but you go to school and come back from school; it’s hard to know anything else. As you grow up, you recognize that there’s more to life than learning and grades; maybe you get a part-time job, and in your later years you start looking at colleges.

Looking at these things on paper is manageable. But as you stand on the edge of high school, knowing that these weeks will be the last you ever see of teenage life, it can feel daunting. More than that, it can be terrifying.

Looking back, I definitely took these past few years for granted. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush to leave high school and never see any of it again, but it’s another thing to actually be leaving high school and know that you’ll never see any of it again. Time passes, and we get old.

All of this is to say I’m hopeful. I’ve cherished the memories I’ve made in high school, and moving on can be scary, but I know college will be something brand new for me. It would be dishonest to act like I’ve had a miserable high school experience, although it is tempting. Wakefield has fostered me into being the best teenager I can be, but it doesn’t quite matter; now it’s time to be an adult.

Levi Holland
Hannah Kilian
Here are my thoughts

When I came to Wakefield High School at the beginning of my sophomore year, I had all of these ideas about my time at Wakefield: who I would be, the people I would meet and the things I would learn. Almost every single one of them was wrong. I remember taking an absurd number of personality and career tests, desperate to plan exactly how the next four years should go. Thankfully, I eventually realized those were not helpful in the slightest and slowly began to approach life differently. As I tried new things and followed what felt right, my thoughts, friends and goals all changed for the better. Much of this change was thanks to the people around me and our experiences.

The best people I have ever met are so focused on helping others and having a good time that they remain relatively unphased by all of the seemingly disastrous drama surrounding them. So, instead of focusing on things I couldn’t control, I began doing things that made me feel more confident, secure, excited and happier every day. I couldn’t be more grateful for the people who’ve helped me learn this, and am so glad my worldview has shifted.

The people I sat and judged at the beginning of high school are the same people I realize now knew much more than me all along. I will go to college and keep in touch with some and lose track of others, but each one of them has changed my perspective and the kind of person I would like to become. I couldn’t be more excited to start college with a much different perspective than when I started high school. 

In short, the best experiences I’ve had have been when I’ve been surrounded by amazing people, and have only occurred when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and done things that scared me. So stop worrying about if you’re an INTP, or an ENFJ, or whatever other combination of letters you think will explain your life, and start doing what makes you feel good.


Hannah Kilian
As I prepare to leave high school, I am reflecting on the many joy-filled memories from the past four years. I discuss the impact these moments had on me, and what I will remember most.
(Photo Courtesy of Amy Marley)
Finding joy in the details

I have always considered myself to be a ‘big picture person.’ My life feels like an accumulation of bullet points, each event concluded with a checkmark as I proceed to the next step. First, I crossed the stage at my preschool graduation, smiling gleefully as my mother filmed me on our clunky family video camera. Next, I chose my career path, dressing up as a psychologist for my school’s career aspiration day in third grade and “analyzing” the depths of my friends’ minds with printed ink blot tests. (Yes, I actually did that.) Then, I went to middle school, where I  found a love of learning and made many questionable fashion choices. Finally, it was time to start high school. 

Out of every other bullet point of my life, this one felt the most significant. I had always dreamed of going to high school. Studying for fancy exams, shopping for my prom dress, getting into my dream university- it all seemed so bullet-worthy. These token teenage events curated a vivid image of what I thought to be the perfect high school experience.

I was right. These moments were incredible, some even life changing. However, as a senior, I now realize the bullets were not what mattered . 

I am incredibly proud of my grades and the work I devoted to school, however, it is not the magnitude of one number that I will remember. I will remember struggling through AP Calculus notes with friends, watching wild psychology documentaries and completing obscure history projects. I won’t remember shopping for prom, but I will remember screaming to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” in my tulle ball gown. I could never forget the moment I was finally accepted to my top university, however, I value the moments when I pushed myself and the personal growth that followed far more. I may always be a ‘big picture person,’ however I will never deny the value of zooming in. As I embark on my next bullet point, I will carry the many lessons and joy filled moments from my four years of high school and strive to admire the tiny tokens of life that make it worth living.

As I prepare to leave high school, I am reflecting on the many joy-filled memories from the past four years. I discuss the impact these moments had on me, and what I will remember most. (Photo Courtesy of Amy Marley)
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