TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2022: Cameron Penner

Audrey Milanowski, for inspiring me to join band. 

Thank you for taking yearbook in 8th grade. Without it, I wouldn’t have met you or almost any of the people mentioned in this column. Yearbook being the most boring class I had ever taken, I came to like the idea of joining band again in 8th grade. You played (and still play) the clarinet, and this gave me a boost. You encouraged me to do so; a week later, I found myself standing in the back with the percussion section, warming up with unknown rudiments. Today, I am now more musically engaged than I ever would have been if you hadn’t been there to tell me to go in there and talk to Ms. Zilhaver about it. Thank you, Audrey, for giving me the motivation to get back into something I love.

Delilah Nelson, for being my cucumber seed buddy. 

Thank you for making Biology enjoyable. I can always count on you to help the minutes tick faster throughout the hour. We didn’t talk much until this year, and I’m so happy that I’ve gotten to know you as I have. I don’t even remember how you became my cucumber seed buddy, but I’m glad that you were—you are now and forever my top-pick partner. I can always rely on you for an enjoyable time and to push through each worksheet together. Whenever Mr. Chudy says we are having partners, I will continue to turn my head left. Thank you, Delilah, for making 5th hour not so dreadful. 

Lydia DeWitt, for car rides. 

Thank you for being my second dad and my chauffeur. Before the sun comes up or after it goes away for the night, I can always count on you for a way back home. Not only is it a ride, but it’s also an experience. It’s a memory with laughter and smiles. You take me anywhere I need to be, and I am thankful. This isn’t entirely about car rides. You take me to a state of relaxation, and I truly appreciate it. Our conversations brighten my day; they bring true laughter to my life. Shelly is getting her door fixed soon. I will miss her broken arm, but it’s okay. Thank you, Lydia, for the fast food trips. I will always be there to finish your ice cream. 

Jack Monterusso, for showing me friendship. 

Thank you for talking to me when I first joined percussion. I felt out of place in the beginning—not having any percussion background, and it felt like I kind of just showed up out of nowhere—and you really helped with that feeling of outsider-ness. I do consider you my best friend. You crush me in 8ball whenever you get the chance, and I will never stop denying my failures. The videos I have of you always make me laugh—dancing to Careless Whisper in the science hallway after school, dancing to Barbie Girl at band camp, your “how to take your bass drum cover off” impersonation of Jake Barnes, your outro videos. They’re stupid, but they’re memories, and some of our memories don’t have a spot in my camera roll, but that is okay. Thank you, Jack, for making my eighth-grade year end better than it started, and thank you for continuing to bring a smile to my face every day as high school progresses. 

Grace Barber, Paige Harsevoort, and Kiera Kemppainen, for walks around the school. 

Thank you for accepting me into your small circle of friends. I know I may not be as close to all of you as you guys are, but I still feel appreciated and not “out of place.” I look forward to lunch every day because it means we will go on another stroll through the hallways even if we’re not really supposed to. I really enjoy how laid back my friendship is with the three of you, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Grace, Paige, and Kiera, for putting up with how much I talk.

Charlie Molitor, for being the funniest guy I’ve ever met. 

Thank you for being absolutely hilarious. I feel like every time I talk to you, I am always laughing. It really makes my day better. You and I have made some of my favorite memories in high school so far, including anything that happens in room 139. I look forward to 6th hour for reasons that other people might not—it’s because I know that every time I walk in there, I am greeted by a smile from you. You congratulate me on my accomplishments and give me tips to get better. I see you as a person to look up to. Not just because you’re so tall, but because you are such a talented writer and a genuine person. I strive to be like you. Thank you, Charlie, for allowing me to laugh on even the hardest of days. 

Mr. George’s 6th hour, for helping me progress in what I love. 

Thank you all for the enormous amount of support you have shown me. I have always loved writing, but I was stuck figuring out what aspect of writing I enjoyed the most. Soon after I joined Writing for Publication, I knew that my favorite was definitely journalism. You all have helped me grow as a writer, whether or not you know it—I have seen growth within my writing in these 3 short months. Thank you all, for opening my eyes to a new kind of writing, one that I had not considered yet. 

Sully Lower, for everything imaginable. 

Thank you for everything. I wish I could properly define what everything means; it could mean buying me cokes from DeMeester. It could mean staying up late on the phone with me knowing we’ll be tired in the morning, though we don’t care. It could mean giving me someone to think about while I listen to love songs. It could mean giving me a reason to look forward to each new day. It could mean being open and honest with each other. It could mean always having you to lean on for advice or help. It could mean looking back on memories with a smile, knowing that new ones are destined for our future. It could mean “Good morning :)” or “I love you.” It could mean having someone to send stupid TikToks to. It could mean a lot of things, but I think it’s best to leave it up to interpretation. You have shown me a new side of life that I didn’t know was possible for me: true happiness. There is no way that I will ever be able to express the quantity or quality of the feelings I have for you, but I will surely try. 

Thank you, Sully, for everything. Thank you for being everything.

Honorable Mentions (I love all of you).

Squid Fentzke, for being the life of the party. Eshana Kaur, for talks during passing period. Maggie Balogh, for being my biggest future-tenor-saxophone supporter. Cory Lathwell, for the “Hi Cameron Penner’s” in the hallway. Maggie Schimeck, for liking my red converse before I even knew who you were. Noah Oppenhuizen, for being my red converse and black pants buddy. Elijah Oppenhuizen, for being hilarious and bringing my mood up in 3rd hour. Addie McDowell, for losing in 8ball. Megan McDowell, for being a friend in Algebra. Ellie McDowell, for encouraging me to join TCT. Lauren and Tara Brace, for being my favorite twins. Nova Wilson, for helping me through almost every struggle I’ve ever had. Mr. George, for noticing my love of writing. Stella Penner, for being someone I can always go to for a hug. Alex Fletcher, for making me smile every time I see you. Addison Moore, for holding my hand in front of Ryan and Sully. Toby Cameron, for being my favorite name buddy. Evan Church, for the lemon candies. Drumline, for bringing a good mood to zero-hour every day. RMB, for letting me live my 5th-grade dreams by marching. 

Whatever you have done to impact my life, I will be forever thankful.

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