Matthew Ashman’s senior reflection

Before I arrived at WJ, I had a preconceived notion of what high school would be like; built from popular culture. It seemed like everyone would follow the same path and end exactly how they expected to. If you asked freshman me what I’d be doing after graduation or who I’d be friends with, I might have given you a decent answer, but the truth is, I didn’t know, and nobody does.

My participation in WJ’s Drumline was a central part of my high school experience and an example of how a scrawny freshman can become a confident and experienced leader. After joining, I found a community of older and wiser high schoolers who taught me that there was more to school than the strict core curriculum we were taught. Just as I was beginning to feel comfortable and find my footing, the pandemic hit, and we were sent home. I stayed in touch with the older alums, but it wasn’t the same and I feared it would never be. Then I had a choice: do I shrug my shoulders at the last year of work and move on to another venture? Or do I hunker down and make the world around me better? Through trial by fire, I was thrust into a position of responsibility in which I was soon tied down to. I held my breath and took it step by step. By the end, I’d earned the trust of a dozen new members to create what is now a flourishing club in the music department.

This lesson is something I’ve slowly absorbed over the years: the way to improve your surroundings is not always clear or easy, but the first step is to take action. In almost every situation, I’ve found that by taking a breath and focusing on yourself can lead to a better footing on the situation and a better connection with yourself.

At the end of my senior year, I am very fortunate to have figured out both my friends and my place, but that’s uncommon. You’re not supposed to have things 100% figured out, and almost everyone who tells you they do, probably doesn’t. High school is not going to give you a direction in life, but if you’re proactive, you might be able to make a few friends and find some activities that make it worthwhile.