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13,000 Hours Later

By: Emily Disman

In third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Donders, wrote my mom a note one day telling her that I was going to grow up and have a passion for writing. Who would have ever thought that she would be right? Recently, I bumped into this same teacher at a restaurant. During our brief conversation, we spoke about how long it has been since we had seen or spoken to one another. Within the time of the encounter, she did not fail to ask me about my writing, whether or not it took off. In that moment, I began to reflect. I allowed myself to look at how far I have come and at how much everything has changed. Now, as the end of my senior year approaches, I realize how much of an impact the Half Hollow Hills community has had on my life.

Throughout all my years at school, I have been able to work with a wide variety of students and teachers that have shaped me into the person who I am today. I have been able to develop my own thoughts and opinions based upon others’ perspectives and challenge myself both academically and socially. I have learned how to build self confidence and be proud of what I have to offer in a group setting. But, most of all, I have learned to take risks. School is a place where each and every student has the ability to express themselves and be whoever they want to be. It is a place where people are free to try new things and make mistakes without the fear of being judged. It is a place where people can learn to be independent, rather than follow the crowd. It is a place where people can discover what they love and what makes them who they are.

It really is true when people say that time flies. It really does. It feels like just yesterday I was a fifth grader sitting in Mr. DiRusso’s class at Chestnut Hill Elementary School. I remember every year that I was a student at that school; I would hope for the Giraffe Awards that were given out to select students. I remember participating in Color War, dressing up and getting spirited, while participating in games to earn points for my designated team. I remember playing on the blacktop during recess, which I now realize is the place where I created everlasting friendships. That was when we had our whole lives ahead of us. Now, I can only reflect on the things that we have experienced and accomplished. Looking back now, Chestnut Hill was the start of it all. The start of my journey to become the person who I am today.

Now, being in high school, I can truly see how much I have matured and grown as a person. I have expanded upon these ideas that I learned when I was young, realizing what is really important in life. I have learned to give back to my community through a variety of community service organizations and fundraisers. I have learned what it means to work hard and put my mind to everything that I want to accomplish in life. I have learned the importance of family and have realized that no matter what family will always have your back and be there to pick you up when you are down. I have learned the definition of a true friend, and fortunately, I have been able to identify many of my own. High school has been a place where I was able to learn the important lessons that life has to offer.

Throughout my four years in high school, I have also been able to discover my love for writing through my participation in the school newspaper, The Thunderbird. Serving as a staff writer as a freshman, the entertainment and lifestyles editor as a sophomore and a junior, and now being the co-Editor-in-Chief as a senior, I have been able to truly refine my passion and grow as a writer. I can’t even express enough how this club has impacted my high school career. The Thunderbird allowed me to step off the beaten path and pursue a hobby that wasn’t quite common. For the past four years, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with Mrs. Dalton and Mrs. Davis, and I cannot thank them enough for all of the guidance and advice that they have given me. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to hold the positions that I have had on the paper, especially this year as co-Editor-in-Chief with Bradley Shanker. To Dylan Kaufman, I know that we are leaving the paper in great hands. With your impeccable writing skills, timeliness, and creativeness, I know that you are going to take The Thunderbird to new levels next year. To the rest of the editorial staff and staff writers, thank you to those who have been dedicated to making this paper the best it can be. Bradley and I could not have done it without you.

13,000 hours. That is approximately how much time I have spent learning, forming friendships, and making memories at school. 13,000 hours that I will forever hold close to my heart. With a lifetime full of firsts, it is hard to think that this time in my life is full of lasts. On that note, to all of the younger students, cherish every moment and every memory because soon it will be your turn to reflect of your time as a Half Hollow Hills student. Although the end and saying goodbye is bittersweet, I cannot wait to say hello to a new beginning 1,542 miles away from home at the University of Texas at Austin.