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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

For Alex Ophoff, a welcoming attitude is the best policy

Alex Ophoffs welcoming spirit is apparent in everything she does.
Tiffany Ann
Alex Ophoff’s welcoming spirit is apparent in everything she does.

Two years ago, FHC’s daily news program, FX, advertised that the water polo team needed new players, catching the ear of current senior Alex Ophoff. 

Despite the daunting prospect of joining a sport without any knowledge of it, lighthearted banter with friends motivated Alex to sign up—unknowingly promising her the reciprocation of the inviting energy she constantly gives to others.

“[The water polo team] was super supportive,” Alex said. “It was definitely hard and nerve-wracking because I didn’t know anyone on the team, but, luckily, they let me in with open arms.”

Water polo required a lot of time and dedication, and Alex exercised so much during the season that she gained substantial muscle mass. It was especially difficult to enter the team during sophomore year, yet Alex continued to persevere. Through it all, the team was constantly welcoming and kind to her; something she appreciates to this day.

Alex’s other extracurriculars seem to offer this same kind of uplifting support. For example, her shifts at a local daycare are filled with little kids who are elated to see her. 

“Let’s say I’m having a terrible day,” Alex said. “When I get to work and I see little kids run up to me, that’s just an amazing feeling.”

Let’s say I’m having a terrible day. When I get to work and I see little kids run up to me, that’s just an amazing feeling.

— Alex Ophoff

Alex especially appreciates a very personal aspect of her workplace: many of the children call her “sissy.” This harmless nickname, which stems from the kids copying Alex’s sister, their classmate, adds to the welcoming atmosphere at the daycare.

Feeling welcome can be a heartening experience, and for Alex, it’s almost healing. When she was younger, fitting in proved to be quite difficult. Her family didn’t have a lot of money—her clothes were often thrifted, unlike her peers—and she even felt left out mentally. 

“I feel like a lot of people that go to FHC are lucky and had that fortune when I didn’t,” Alex said. “My mentality was different because I was going through different things that most kids don’t go through at that age.” 

Because of Alex’s differences, she felt out of place. She often felt like she was unwelcome because of how she was treated. Thankfully, the water polo team and the kids at Alex’s daycare job have shown her that her differences are appreciated.

Still, Alex’s childhood reminds her of how unwelcoming society can be to people with unique circumstances—and in an effort to prevent others from feeling how she once did, Alex constantly pursues a welcoming demeanor. 

This year, this value led her to befriend many of the foreign exchange students, such as the ones from Spain and Italy, who are currently attending FHC. 

“Obviously, coming here from a completely different country is really hard,” Alex said. “I’m just glad that I could be friends with them and make them feel welcome, not only in FHC but also in the community.”

In Alex’s opinion, being welcoming means having an open, non-judgmental mindset. Her greatest advice is to simply start a conversation with someone, even if they don’t share many interests. She believes that no one deserves to be an outcast just because their circumstances are atypical.

“[People] have different things that they do, that we aren’t used to, that might seem weird, but it’s just their way of life,” Alex said. “I’d say being welcoming is just respecting [those] differences.”

For Alex, a welcoming nature comes easily. She takes into consideration that there’s more than what meets the eye in most situations, and her loving manner has proved just how simple it is to be inviting.

“You don’t have to choose to be welcoming,” Alex said. “You can just let people in; I feel like that’s what humans are naturally supposed to do. For people who are not welcoming or not accepting of other people, it’s their choice to be that way.”

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About the Contributor
Emalea Rooke, Staff Writer
Emalea Rooke is a senior entering her first year on The Central Trend. Since she was little, Emalea has always had a passion for bringing her imagination to life with creative writing, and she is excited to expand her writing skills this year. Other than writing, Emalea enjoys reading, drawing, and spending time with friends. She is the head of costumes for FHC Theatre this year and hopes to use the knowledge she gains in college for Fashion Design. Favorite Song: "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson Favorite Video Game: Red Dead Redemption Favorite Flower: Carnations Favorite Accessory: Her sun-shaped nazar necklace

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