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TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2021: Ellie McDowell

Jadelin Hinkel – for going on adventures with me

I don’t have the words to thank you. I never thought that the sophomore that I met weeks before my freshman year even started would become my best friend, but I couldn’t be happier that she did. Over the past three years, you have taught me what it means to be a band kid. You have taught me what it means to have someone that loves you unconditionally, just because they can. Our drives around town mean the world to me, and they have always been my favorite. Thank you for buying me food. Our trips to Subway continue to be eventful and weirdly full of life lessons. ‘Remember not to talk to creeps.’ Over countless occasions of screaming 2000s pop songs in your mom’s car in the school parking lot at 7 a.m., and even more occasions of getting each other sick, we never have a dull moment. You never cease to make me laugh, and your Mac and Cheese stories always bring a smile to my face, no matter the circumstances. I will never forget to play loud and proud, and I will always remember the relationship I built with my squad leader of three years.

Dominic DeStefano – for being there even though you don’t really know me

You have done more for me in the three months that I have known you than some people have done since I met them years ago. There have been so many moments where all I needed was someone to step up and tell me that it’s okay, and they’ve got my back. You have done this countless times, and I can never thank you enough for that. From allowing me to crash your Homecoming date to literally just freaking out over a transposition sheet in jazz band with me, I never have to worry that you won’t be there. Thank you for being the one person that I can count on to remind me to do things when Jadelin can’t. Without you, I would not have reeds for any of my instruments, which would have made it impossible for me to play. Thank you for being someone I can always count on, even if I’ve only known you for a few months.

Will Hoffmann – for always making me laugh

You. I literally don’t even know how to start. The strange friendship we have going on has brought light to my life I didn’t know I needed until it was there. Sure, it took months for you to admit that you don’t hate me, but eventually you did, and that’s all that matters, right? One time you told me that weird friendships are sometimes the best ones, and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know how I could have survived the marching season without you telling me, “We don’t want you getting too cocky” every time I did something incorrectly. All I can really say is thank you for being someone who always manages to make me smile. Sometimes, all I need is a smile to make my day better, and I can always count on you to make that happen. Thank you for being someone who can always make my day a little brighter. Thank you for always making me laugh and making sure I don’t get too cocky. Thank you for letting me make fun of you and always giving the same energy back. You may not beat a bear in a fight, but at least I can once I sacrifice you in my place. Most of all, thank you for letting me randomly become your friend, even though you had no clue who I was.

Ella Hunnewell – for never leaving my side

You are genuinely one of my favorite people in the world. You never fail to check on me and make sure I’m not having a literal mental breakdown, and for that, I thank you. Sure, there was a point in time where I thought you were only my friend because I have a cute dog, and maybe you are, but I made it through that moment. You are definitely my “soccer mom” friend. You provide me with cough drops, band-aids, fruit snacks, and cheese sticks so that I never have to go without. Thank you for making band fun and for sticking around through everything. Thank you for caring for, not only me, but our whole friend group. I’m so excited to see how our friendship grows over the next year and a half and hopefully, into college. I can’t imagine what environmental club would have been like without your goose calls. I am, however, thankful that they did not attack us.

Mr. George – for pushing me to succeed 

Thank you for pushing me toward my goals harder than any teacher ever has. Over the last year and a half, I have grown so much as a person, in my writing, and in my reading, and I credit all of that to you. I barely even recognize myself anymore (in a good way), and I can’t even begin to connect the girl I am now to the girl who texted Linus about what to expect from you at the beginning of sophomore year. As we started to think about scheduling for this school year last spring, I had no idea what classes I was going to take. I had some requirements I still needed to fulfill, but I knew that I wanted to take another class with you. I somehow managed to make that happen, and it has been the highlight of my year. Thank you for giving me a sixth hour to look forward to when I don’t want to go to school. I literally wouldn’t know how to use a comma without you.

Kyle Basher – for entertaining me at work

KB! You are one of my favorite Culver’s employees, bro. You make work so much more enjoyable and sixth hour so much more entertaining. Gregor is still in my room, kind of creeping me out when it stares at me. Anyways, thank you for the constant laughter. You make me laugh every time we work together, whether it’s singing our parts from jazz band or being a literal house for Halloween. Being in jazz with you has inspired me to be a better musician. I have so much fun in that class, and you are one of the reasons I do.

Clarinet family – for being my dysfunctional family

How can I even begin to thank you for this season, past seasons, and the future season? You all mean the world to me, and I don’t know what I would do without this dysfunctional family we have created. I know I can be a lot at times, but you seem to handle it well—at least on the outside. You have given me a home in the section, and for that, I never cease to be grateful. High school has not been easy, but I can always count on my clarinet family to be there for me. There are moments where I feel like everything is falling apart, but together, you all help to hold it together. For those of you that will be graduating this spring, thank you for three amazing marching seasons, you are what band is to me. For those of you who I get to march with next fall, I can’t wait. I can already tell this will be my favorite “one last time.”

Band seniors – for being what band is for me

I’m going to miss you all more than anything. You have made high school unforgettable, and for that, I thank you. I don’t know how I am going to march onto the field without you next year; I will forever miss the memories that marching with you has given me in the past 2.86 years. Thank you for everything from teaching me how to march to teaching me more about my instrument. Thank you. Thank you for being there through it all, and teaching me what it means to be a band kid. Thank you for three phenomenal years of marching with you and for being there through all of it. Thank you.

Mr. Reaume – for being the best band student teacher ever

Watching you march in your iconic Birkenstocks, iced coffee in hand, is what got me through those grueling morning rehearsals at band camp. Since the first time Z introduced you to us, I knew you were going to be one of my favorite student teachers. Not only did you achieve that expectation, but you shot past it. You have, throughout the semester, never failed to bring smiles to the faces of the entire band. Our band isn’t necessarily an easy one to work with, but you handle it well. Every time you say “lol” when something goes a little bit wrong, it makes my day, and your constant smile is contagious. Thank you for the power naps and laughter during band camp and helping me figure out plans for college. Thank you for the jokes and reeds you have provided for me throughout the season.

Sydney Bacon – for sticking with me in band

My soon-to-be senior clarinet buddy! You have made all of our years of band together so enjoyable. I will never forget the challenge where we couldn’t play any of our chromatic scales, but as soon as we left Z’s office, we played them flawlessly. I know that sometimes band is hard, or even a little annoying, but we can do this, as long as we do it together. Thank you for being here through it all. I’m so excited for one more season with you.

Joel Nhkum – for being my comic relief

Thank you for being the comic relief I need in my daily life. Thank you for listening to me randomly talk about Descendants and other Disney movies. Thank you for listening to Jadelin and I rant and just watching us randomly have conversations that make no sense to you. You put up with so much of our crap, so thank you for that.

Linus Kaechele – for making me feel at home

Thank you for learning my name. I know that’s a super small and random thing to be thankful for, but it gave me a place. It helped me realize that I have people no matter what, even if I don’t really know them well. We miss you at FHC, but we also hope that you’re having fun being an adult. Band wouldn’t have been the same my freshman year without you, and you handled our weird marching band situation last year so well. It would have made things a lot harder on all of us if your contagious smile wasn’t there every time we walked onto the field. Thank you for everything.

Jackie Festian – for being an ambassador with me

Bro, you’re amazing. When we met, I didn’t think we would become friends, but through the years of GLI, we definitely have. We should hang out more. GLI wouldn’t be the same without you; it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. Leading that workshop with you was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world. Thank you for everything you do and for inspiring me to speak out. 

KP and KM – for being the friends I didn’t know I needed

Yeah, yeah, I barely know you, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful. You two, in the few days I’ve known you, have changed my life. That might seem a bit strange, but it’s true. You two were the people I needed in my life to make me feel like I belong somewhere and to make me want to learn new things again. Watching you two play at the retreat inspired me to go back to learning piano, which I needed, so thank you. I’m excited to see how our friendships continue; thank you for letting me call y’all my besties!

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