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TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2021: Natalie Mix

Katherine Hartman, Sophie Hartl, Brooke Munson, and Sophie Shields – for Survivor selfies

For the first few weeks of the school year, Social Psych lacked the vivacity that most of the classes on my schedule did. It wasn’t until I moved into the seat in front of Mr. Pierce’s desk and started sitting by you four that I started to look forward to fifth hour every day. From silly conversations with Mr. Pierce to Survivor selfies at football games, I can’t thank you all enough for making me feel at home in that class. Thank you for giving me people I can talk to when I’m feeling particularly extraverted and for genuinely brightening my days, even if you may not know it.

Bella Long, Rylie Beatty, and Brynn Schanski – for giving me a home my senior year

There’s no other way to put what you guys have given me into words—home is the only way to say it. While I once considered you as “Emma’s friends,” you have all welcomed me in with open arms, given me a group to make my senior year memories with, made me feel as if I was always meant to be friends with you all. Rylie, thank you for discussing religion with me, for being a sounding board for my most complex thoughts and worries, for caring about me through thoughtful texts and a ride home from the Senior Dinner Dance. Bella, they say Senior Retreat is supposed to bring you closer to people you’d never talked to before, but instead, it gave me you. From “Bella, where the h*ll have you been, loca?” and “mommy? sorry” jokes, I’m forever grateful that avoiding those group activities gave us a foundation for our friendship. Brynn, I don’t remember how I used to get through my day without you in it. Your soul is a mirror to mine; I’ve simply become accustomed to sharing every little piece of my life with you and seeing your smile in response. Thank you for the Harry Potter TikToks and for letting me freak out over books and always being there when I need a shoulder to cry on. 

Benji Zorn – for always saying hi to me in the hallways

Before we even really became friends, you’d say hi to me in the hallways. Your smile and wave always made me feel seen, and that’s just who you are—you make everyone feel seen, no matter how well you know them. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to know you beyond those hallway interactions—all your obscure disc golf and improv references, your collection of rules at Homecoming, your weird aversion to listening to music—and that I can call you my friend. So thanks for flipping that water bottle and telling me I couldn’t be sad anymore if you landed it, and thanks for all that you do to make people feel seen. 

Ella and Lorelei – for weekends in a little café that I actually look forward to

The last few months have found us in some sense bringing new life to a friendship that we’ve held for ten years. From weekends spent struggling through rushes at Chapbook to sleepovers and late night car rides, this past summer and the first few months of my senior year would have lacked a certain feeling of being at home, of being myself. 

Ella, thank you for late night phone calls and midday texts with quotes from Rem, for answering all my questions at work, for paying for my dinner that one time, for being worried about how much I’m eating. You are always there to calm my anxieties, to laugh at how bad I am at flirting, but to nonetheless always make me feel deeply cared about, the way you do with everyone. 

Lorelei, thank you for thrifting excursions, 24-hour readathons, being my go-to for “Oh no, our table, it’s broken” remixes, for talking to me while I do dishes in the kitchen, for always being down to do whatever. You have your life so together, and it honestly astounds me, but I can’t wait to say “I knew her” when you inevitably become famous someday. 

Rem – for late nights spent watching Ted Lasso

From those first few interactions at the Moxons’ to now, it’s honestly hard to believe we’ve come all this way, that I get excited every time you text me, that I look forward all week to seeing you on the weekends. Thank you for games of 8 ball on iMessages that I can never seem to win, for loving my car as much as I do, for talking politics with my brother, for the multiple playlists you’ve made and all the songs that I’ve added to my own playlists, for your confidence that you wouldn’t die in an explosion, for all the little things you’ve said that have made me smile, but most importantly, for making me happy. 

Jonah – for calling me to catch up

I think it surprised me the first time you called “just to catch up,” but I’ve become extremely fond of our sporadic phone calls to update each other on life as we creep closer and closer to adulthood. I miss the Wednesday nights we’d spend playing Dungeons and Dragons, especially when we finally started hanging out in person, even if I never really got the hang of it. I miss splitting a bag of Sour Patch Kids into our respective favorite flavors, making competitions out of things that really didn’t need to be a competition, and getting roped into Kennedy’s Better Way activities. For now, I’m grateful for those seemingly random phone calls that always brighten my day. 

Katarina – for not “trying too hard to be quirky”

We watched those stupid little vlogs from Frankfort on FaceTime the other night, and it once again reminded me how grateful I am that you have stuck by my side through six years of friendship. Our awkward years will be remembered in various cringe-worthy mementos: the stupid selfies taken on someone’s iPhone 4, those never-to-be-spoken-about fan accounts, and a note that I still don’t know the contents of. All these years later, you’ve walked with me through some of the darkest moments of my life, and I am eternally grateful for all that you’ve put up with, all that you mean to me. Our lives are so undeniably threaded together, that even though we haven’t seen each other in weeks, I feel inextricably connected to you. Your out-of-pocket texts always make me smile, your Life360 notifications make me laugh, and once again, for the third year in a row, I want to cry as I sit here thinking about all that you mean to me. I love you Katarina; you are one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever been blessed to meet. 

Kennedy – for being the person I always want to text first

No matter how long it’s been since I’ve heard your voice through the phone, no matter how our busy schedules have conflicted in all the right ways to stop us from seeing each other, you are always the first person I want to tell when something wonderful happens—the first text I send, the first phone call I make. I miss you, but I also know that we exist in these ups and downs, in seeing each other every single day for a few golden weeks and then months of distance where late night phone calls find me unable to hang up. Ten years have given us the ability to do this, to never falter when our paths diverge and to fall back into our easy rhythm when they intertwine again. I love you in all the little ways, for all the little things, because ten years of memories can’t possibly be summarized in a paragraph—I love you for the notes you leave around my room when you’re here, for calling me back when you wake up late at night, for the indisputable fact that my best memories are with you. I love you because I know those golden weeks will find us again and only the people we’ve become will tell us that any time has passed at all. 

My five senior year teachers, who have made it impossible for me to hate a single one of my classes:

Mrs. O’Brien – for teaching me life skills and making me excited about it

Every time I hear one of my friends lament the difficulties of a particular College Algebra concept, I thank my lucky stars that my math credit this year is Personal Finance. As you said on the first day of school, this is the most—and possibly the only—useful math credit I will ever take, but beyond that, you’ve made it fun. From simulator games that I have actually played repeatedly after completing the assignment to episodes of The Office that connect to whatever we’re learning about, I become genuinely excited about and interested in the very real life skills that you are imparting on us. Thank you for connecting with us, preparing us for the real world, and making second hour something to look forward to. 

Mrs. Penninga – for reading my words and giving me words to read

I’ve been waiting four years for your name to appear on my schedule, to spend an hour in your room every day, but in those four years, I never imagined I’d gravitate to you quite so easily. In only three months, you have made a noticeable impact on my life—from telling me you loved my articles, to smiling at me when you pass my Personal Finance class, to always asking me how my day is going when you see me in third hour, to discussing books with me and Emma, you brighten my day time and time again. Thank you for your comforting presence, the sunlight you bring to my mornings, and your infectious enthusiasm for words and their innate power. 

Mrs. Anderson – for letting me interrupt all of your classes

There’s not an hour of your day that I haven’t turned up in with a problem that felt a little too big to handle myself. But you have never expressed frustration at my interruptions, always there with a smile and an answer. Thank you for letting me find solace in your room and your presence at every moment throughout the day, for caring not only about my grasp on ASL, but also about my wellbeing in every aspect. You have been a home to me this year, and I know I’ll long for the comfort of that home long after I’ve left these halls, but I know you’ll always be just an email away. 

Mr. Pierce – for teaching me about myself

I have taken every psychology class that FHC offers, and while I initially filled my schedule with psychology electives in an effort to take “career-oriented” classes, I ended up sticking with it because of you, Mr. Pierce. You have shown me time and time again that you truly care—through sarcastic comments and genuine emails and moments of honesty in front of the class—and I’m so grateful to you for your encouragement and authenticity through my darkest moments last year into my successes this year. Thank you for Survivor Fridays, even if I keep missing them, and for letting our Social Psych class really get to know you. If there was another psychology class I could take next semester I would, but there isn’t, and I’ll miss coming upstairs to see you every day.

Mr. George – for four years

I walked into your room four years ago with a head full of insecurities and worries, and you gave me a home and a dream for the future. I will forever hold on to the lessons you’ve taught me and the person you’ve made me into. You have exemplified the leadership that you hope to see from me in the connections that you make with your students and the influence that you are always aware of. You have shown me where I can grow and guided me through that growth, made me see the impact that I can have on every individual I cross paths with. Thank you for giving me a place not only within these halls, but also in the world outside Room 139. Thank you for saying welcome home.

The staff of The Central Trend – for helping me finally fulfill my dreams 

Lauren, for the sunshine that lights up every gray morning in Room 139, for editing my stories at unspeakable hours of the night, and for making the mountains into molehills and the hurricanes into rainstorms; Kelsey, for your bold and honest spirit and the way you are unapologetically yourself, for the willingness you possess to give everything you can to help fill in the gaps, for asking me how I’m doing and genuinely caring; Jessie, for inexplicably matching my energy in a series of obscure inside jokes and only-funny-to-us TikToks, for existing in a realm of raw power and beauty that only the greats could share in, for having watched me stumble through the darkest shadows I’ve ever faced and now being here to tell me you’re proud; Meggie, for the ethereal pictures your words paint and the artful presence you imbue upon Room 139; Liza, for the little smiles that mean you’re listening at lunch, for being a friend and a listener at the very core of your being; Coco, for the grace and elegance that you pour into every piece of writing and every minute interaction; Jadelin, for sitting next to me in AP Lit and making me smile, for your infectious enthusiasm, and your wealth of creativity and ideas; Kyle, for being innately you in every word you write, for having something to say every time you see me; Allie, for reaching out to me when you needed help, for unwittingly helping me realize the gravity of my impact, but most importantly, for being my friend despite all else; Veronica, for never blending in with the crowd, for being willing to speak your mind and showing me all the places I can grow, for truly seeing everyone and caring about them, and for making me happy every time you roll over to the couch to start a discussion; Masyn, for your bravery to speak from a place of vulnerability and the depth of your words every time that you do; Sofia, for every afternoon and hour delay morning we’ve spent blasting our favorite songs and making confused eye contact while Logan and Charlie ramble, for matching my excitement concerning my various life updates, for letting me sob on the darker drives home and for crying alongside me, for your energy, enthusiasm, and passion that will assuredly take you places; Sydney, for the eccentric personality you covet, for enlivening the spirit of room 139 and the infamous GroupMe chat, for your dedication to making every single piece of writing something you can be proud of; Eva, for always making me excited to click on your stories in pending and curious to see how you’ve managed to speak up for and give a voice to those whose voices are silenced; Kiera, for always having something to say and saying it in a way that makes me laugh, for holding conversations that I always want to know more about; Addy, for asking me how my day is going in Social Psych and for allowing me to watch you grow and evolve as a writer, for being someone I’m so happy I got to know a little bit better.

Emma Zawacki and Avery Jordan – for making me proud of our names on the wall

I’ve wanted to be Editor in Chief of The Central Trend since I was fourteen years old. If that fourteen-year-old girl could see me now, she wouldn’t believe a thing about the life I hold in my hands now, but I truly think she’d be unbelievably happy about the way this particular dream of hers was being fulfilled—alongside two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. 

Avery, thank you for mornings spent comparing our Celsius flavors, for turning your stories in days ahead of time, for your decisiveness and your strength, for laughing at Emma’s type A tendencies with me, for your rationality when Emma and I are irrational, for random moments when your goofy side shines through, for being committed and consistent and graceful despite it all.

Emma, thank you for the countless hours we’ve spent forming an unhealthy attachment to each other, for your to do lists that I make fun of but that truly save me and Avery, for always accepting my Facetime calls, for giving me a home this year, for telling me your sorry when I bring you my problems, for letting me cry on more than one occasion, for discussing words with Mrs. Penninga, for being passionate and meticulous and generous at your own expense. 

Thank you for our slushie trips, for our genuine friendship outside of room 139, for the fact that we are all grateful for each other, for the atmosphere that we have created by standing strong together. Thank you for those mornings on that brown couch, for making me unimaginably proud of everything we’ve created and accomplished, for being the perfect two people to share this dream with.

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