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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2023: Rowan Szpieg


Old me, for making me never want to go back

Everyone I talk to says that high school is the best years of your life. All I can think about in return is, It just gets worse from here?? However, really looking closely at myself and pictures of me from years ago—which is hard enough as it is—I can really begin to see how much I am progressing; maybe not in the way other people are, but progressing nonetheless. You have taught me that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people—which I’m still working on—and to laugh at myself for even thinking that shaving my head was a good idea.

Mom, for never letting me go

It’s no secret, to you at least, that I haven’t been in the greatest place, especially since COVID. Although I don’t consider myself a particularly lucky person, I think I’m extremely fortunate to count on you to help me up after I’ve fallen. We joke about how happy you’ll be when I leave home, but I’m in no rush for that day to come. Although you don’t think you know how to help me through things, eventually I figured it out; you support me more than you know. 

Dad, for sharing my views on life

Most days when I come home from school, I can count on having one of our conversations. You know which ones: the ones that start with questions about our respective days that sometimes end an hour later—always with me feeling proud that I’m not alone in feeling certain emotions. You said once that we are a lot alike. And I agree. I love that I have someone to talk to about school and rant about people who are hard to be around. I love that we will always share that safe place.

Erik, for helping me in any way that you can

Although you look at me weird when I come out with makeup on, or a dress, or fancy clothes, you always end up complimenting me in your own unique way. I try not to let it be obvious, but I really do care what you think of me. I understand when you get frustrated when I try to help you with homework, but you make up for it when you try your best to help me—even if it makes you late for bed.

Devin, for coming back

I specifically remember the day you moved out. I was five years old and bedridden with the flu. For years, I thought you left because of me. I was too young to process how ridiculous that was, and even though you never fully left, I feel like you have become more present in the last few years. In a way, I’m thankful for COVID. We didn’t have any choice but to stay in and play board games, or talk about nothing across a fire outside; our house was often the last one to be lit up in the neighborhood as our antics took up the early hours of the morning.  

Vinnie, for teaching the whole family that grief is different for everyone

You have taught us more than you would ever have realized. I’ve learned that people will make fun of you for how you grieve; I was taught to be patient in those instances—not that it justifies their words or actions—simply because they don’t understand. To be present in every single moment and let yourself feel every emotion and thought is the most important thing when living with grief. 

My family for your endless support

Gram and Grandpa Relitz, for making things interesting. A family dinner can sometimes be an excruciating event to attend, but having you there makes things exponentially easier. Gram, everyone knows that you and I are the troublemakers; our personalities collide in the most entertaining ways. You can never keep a straight face when taking a picture, and I try to make you laugh even harder. Some of my favorite memories occur in the kitchen in your old house. Even though it belongs to another now, I know I will eventually feel the same things in your new one because it was you that made it feel like home. Grandpa, you notice our troublesome behavior and make sure not to tempt us further, but don’t give us any reason to be good. The way you look at Gram after she fails to get the details of a story right consistently makes me laugh. At the end of the day, I know that when we are together no verbal communication is needed. I just have to sit by you to feel comfortable. Granny and Grandpa Szpieg, for giving me dreams to chase after. Going up to the house in Calumet has made me realize my ambitions in life. I never knew that a huge thing I would end up seeking to achieve was my aspirations to travel. Auntie, for being a light in my life. I know we don’t talk, text, or see each other as often as I would like, but that just makes our visits that much more special; however, the times we do interact, you never fail to make me feel seen. You have created a safe space for me, and I always try to make you realize that. Our shared love of books gives me an outlet for my passion, and I appreciate how much you’ve accepted every part of me.

Kendra Turley, simply for being here

The summers in the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, Four Square, Ghosts in the Graveyard, Survival, and making the short film, The Neighborhood Demons—which still has one of my favorite blooper reels ever—create my most treasured memories. Everyone has grown up now. People are at college, busy with jobs, or simply too cool for us. But you’ve stuck around. Granted, you are dating my brother, but I trust that you’d still be the only one to text me back even if you weren’t. I think you’ve made me laugh more than anyone else has…ever: from asking which Harry Potter movie is playing next when they’re in chronological order to your strangely aggressive goose laugh. I truly love all of you. 

Avery Koehler, for sharing my humor

You make me feel less alone. Even if it’s just the fact that we may be struggling with the same thing in AP Seminar, I get the impression that we’re always on the same wavelength. Our combined humor should definitely get me in trouble for laughing too much in class, but you always seem to keep me in check somehow.

Lucy Yoder, for being so friendly to me from the beginning

When I first met you in freshman year, we were stand partners in orchestra. You have no clue how happy it made me that you were so kind and accepting. We always had something to talk about and you were so easy to get along with. Although we didn’t see each other much when I was a sophomore, you always smiled at me in the halls; that meant the world to me. The first day I walked into class this year, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I noticed you were there too. I’ve begun to know you better and I can’t imagine my school days without you.

Aidan Lamptey and your family, for being some of the nicest people I know

Every single member of your family so evidently puts other people first. Aidan, sometimes I feel bad that you are the only guy, but you are the biggest gentleman. Although you are very persistent in trying to pay me for guitar lessons, I hope I’ve made it clear that I never want to accept your money. 

Autumn VanSolkema, for sharing my guitar passion with you

It really is more difficult than I thought it would be to find somebody who is as passionate about music as I am. We may not have the same taste, at all, but we put our differences aside and let the guitars speak for us. Music isn’t the reason we started hanging out though. When we first met, I knew you were going to be a perfect complement to my personality. You are absolutely hilarious without trying which covers for me in the times I’m not. You bring a kind of joy to my life that nobody else does.

Juliana Lieuwen, for being one of the funniest people I know

Your humor is indescribable in the best way possible. All the times I should’ve gotten in trouble for laughing in class has solely been because of you. And I cannot thank you enough for that. You give me something to look forward to every day; seeing you right in the morning in AP Seminar, along with Avery, makes me start off my day in the most incredible way. Your humor is so random sometimes because you say exactly what’s on your mind, and I love you for that. I have become comfortable around you so fast; although that’s partially due to your comforting, hilarious personality, you have created a space for me to be able to talk to you about anything.

Norah Vanderweide, for making me feel like a passenger princess

Yes, I’m aware that I don’t like the same music as some of your other friends do: I don’t listen to a whole ton of pop, and I can’t stand rap. But you always let me have aux. I think we share that thought process of having car rides solely for listening to music. Having you there, and being able to share some of the same taste is my favorite thing in the world. You truly have spoiled me with your rides to school, donuts, coffee, and Culver’s. I will pay you back no matter how much you say no. 

Everyone who doesn’t think they have an impact on me 

Kaden for keeping me and Avery in line during APES, Audrey for having heartbreaking discussions about A Little Life with me, Monia For quietly being one of the sweetest and secretly hilarious people I know, Kendall for keeping the most boring classes fun, Sydney for sharing my confusion in math,  Mikey for making me laugh on my bad days, Gabby for not judging me and being so nice to everyone, Dia for being so passionately sweet, Micah for setting the bar incredibly high for writing expectations, Addie for being the funniest freshman.

The Culver’s Crew 

Mr. and Mrs. Ceton for giving me the most meaningful conversations I’ll remember for the rest of my life, Mr. Merchant for giving me expectations to live up to, Mr. and Mrs. Stone for giving me such good advice on anything and everything, Mr. Wilson for not being too cool to hang out with us, Mrs. Spicuzzi for giving me the best life advice and being an amazing role model.

The adults that deal with me daily

Ms. Beckett and Mr. Labenz for making easy conversation every day (and for the Genesis CD), Mr. Pool for giving me an avenue to keep my passion for music alive, Mr. Anderson for being so invested in how class functions, Mr. Bannick for being patient with me and my math struggles, Mrs. Richardson for giving me a reason to like science

My neighborhood family

Ms. Suzie for being so good to my family and giving me advice over the years, Mrs. Vandommelen for being someone I can count on for anything, Mr. and Mrs. Murphey for sharing my love of board games, Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter for hosting the best bonfires, Mrs. Kenyon for the memories of our Sonic trips, Mrs. Benson for having such a contagious laugh that I can hear from across the neighborhood, Mrs. Hatley for throwing the best bus stop parties, Mr. and Mrs. Turley for being my second family.

Mr. George for giving me too much to be thankful for

I didn’t forget about you. I just couldn’t put you in the same group as all my other teachers. It’s always been quite difficult for me to put my thoughts into words, but I don’t even know where to start in saying thank you. Even through my difficulties, my bad days, and my subpar answers to your questions in class, you’ve been a consistent source of happiness and inspiration in my life. There has never been a point where I’ve doubted your opportunities: I know I can email you about anything and you’ll be understanding—I just have to find the strength to not feel like a burden. Somehow you always seem to know what is right for me; what I’m capable of doing that will push me in a healthy and developmental way. You have given me endless opportunities and I’ve learned that it would be stupid to not seize them. I appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication to your classes. If there’s anybody that deserves those days off, it’s you. Although you certainly have stressful days, you never fail to make me smile or feel accepted. When you say “welcome home” to the class after a break, I truly believe I have found a second one. As far as writing and TCT is concerned, a quote from a book called Reasons Why I Write sums up my thoughts perfectly: “We read books and highlight the lines that speak to us, we listen to music and tattoo the lyrics that touch us, we turn to poetry and learn the lines that become us; we are all hopelessly inept people, struggling in vain to coherently express ourselves. We know what we want to say but we don’t know how.” You have taught me how. You have given me a passion, and you have given me a passion. 

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About the Contributor
Rowan Szpieg, Junior Writer
Rowan is entering her first year on The Central Trend as a junior writer. Her love of writing developed in recent years through expressive poetry. Although it is a hobby that assumes a bit of her time already, when she's not sitting back with a new writing piece on her computer, you can find her playing her guitar. Any spare time she has that's not occupied with family or friends is spent learning to play new songs. She also loves to spend her nights under the stars around a bonfire in the summer and laughing too much playing board games in the winter. Rowan is always up for a movie night as a way to share her interest in film. When she's not watching a movie, she has Friends playing in the background on every occasion.   Comfort movie: The Proposal Favorite time of the year: When Christmas music starts to play Favorite book: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom Favorite song to play on guitar: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan Has she shortened her watchlist of movies? Not at all! It's still over 300

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    Lucy YoderNov 21, 2023 at 1:16 pm


  • A

    Addie McDowellNov 21, 2023 at 10:58 am

    this is so cute i love this so much!!