Katarina Lalic and Kennedy Mikel – for being my loves, my life, my everything
In all their infinite power, there are not enough words in the world for you two. I have tried to tell you over and over again just how much you mean to me, but I don’t know what could ever be powerful enough to express the love in my heart for your absolutely beautiful souls.
From the first time we were ever all together—picnicking in the parking lot of our old school, having one of the weirdest and most memorable conversations—to nearly four years later—sitting on the floor of my bedroom, eating fettuccine and drinking sparkling juice out of wine glasses—I’ve never been afraid to be completely myself around you guys.
Kennedy, it’s been eight years since we met. I can’t even believe that. We’ve had every experience together, and I don’t think you could ever be anything but my best friend. You inspire me, with a heart as big as your infectious smile, and a personality that draws in every person you meet.
Katarina, I honestly don’t know how we became friends or how we got so close so fast. But five years, and you are my sister—my best friend. I love everything about you: your bubbly personality, your absolutely psychotic switch from completely calm to insane, and all the content you’ve provided for my Instagram stories.
I love you both to the moon and back.
Jena Detweiler – for always being there and for bringing me my chem worksheets 🙂
Jena, you are probably the only person in the whole world who I could sit and talk about personality tests with for hours on end. I think we’ve sufficiently annoyed everyone we know with our deep conversations, but I’m still not sick of them. I love that I can always count on you: to be completely honest with me, to lift me up when I’m down, to tell me what Mr. Chudy said while I was gone, and to bring me my Chem worksheets. Thank you for being an angel.
Julianna Hahn – for a relationship nobody but us really understands
Julianna, everybody thinks we hate each other, but that’s only true some of the time. I’m kidding! But honestly, nobody really understands the idiosyncrasies of our friendship, not even us sometimes. I just know that you are my go-to, the person who listens to me repeat the same stories over again, the one who listens to my impassioned rants. There’s nobody else I’d want to be my emotional support human. Thank you for your adorable laugh and beaming smile that fills my heart.
Lily Klaasen – for hugging me in the hallways before you even really knew me
As soon as you found out we had lunch together this year, you excitedly texted me. Because somehow, despite having no classes (or lunch) together last year, we became friends. I have to give you the credit for that; you were so endlessly friendly when you didn’t even really know me. And then this year, having only lunch together, you became one of my closest friends. There’s not a moment this year you haven’t been there for me, no matter what you had going on. So thank you for reaching out, for shouting aggressively nice things at me in the hallway, for sharing your spunky, euphoric soul with the world.
My first semester of freshman year lunch table – for welcoming me in without a thought
You guys didn’t let me question for a second where I would sit at lunch on my first day. My freshman year was a billion times better having you guys there to get me through Econ, to laugh at my “count-down to Christmas” on Mr. McClees whiteboard, and to put up with all of my mid-day breakdowns. Claire, thank you for your soft laughter, you’re gentle spirit, and for sharing the events of your sixth hour. Amy, thank you for your ambition and curiosity and for making me laugh so hard I cried at lunch. Audrey, thank you for always being interested in what I have to say and for reading my short story. Erynn, thank you for saving a spot for me in Econ on the first day and for exuding that same altruistic love every day since.
You guys were my first friends here, and my gratitude for that is overflowing.
Kate Sherman – for being the yee to my haw
Kate, I don’t think a universe exists where we are not the same person, spiritually linked. We automatically clicked this year, like two puzzle pieces, always meant to meet each other. Thank you for your spunky giggle, your chaotic soul, your undying attention. You are the yee to my haw and other things that are between us and everybody who’s heard us yelling. You are a shimmering butterfly. Thank you.
Alyssa Cheslek – for comforting me no matter what I’m freaking out about
Alyssa, so many times, you’ve reminded me of my worth, and I just really wanted to remind you of yours. You are confident and elegant, yet gentle—a well of knowledge and wisdom that you offer up willingly. You are strong, diligent, and determined. Thank you for reminding me to take a deep breath and approach every situation rationally. Don’t ever forget what shining star you are.
My WFP darlings – for being other sophomores in TCT
Emma, you are one of the first people I see every morning, and I’m sorry. I’m just not a morning person. But you are still so kind, so cheerful, always smiling. Your laugh is like bubbles—so buoyant and genuinely happy. Thanks for making Stiles’ class better every day. Lauren, you’ve heard me say so many strange things and heard me ask so many obvious questions. But you remain understanding and curious. Thanks for trusting me and for being an awesome human. Kelsey, I don’t know what it is, but I just look forward to seeing you every day. You’re always there, looking frustratingly adorable, just being you. And I love that, so thank you. Tananya, I just can’t wait to get to know you better. Your spirit radiates this innate wisdom and unique character. If you’re anything like your writing, I can’t wait to explore your layered complexities.
Stiles – for having the absolute best first hour
I thank myself every day that I didn’t take APUSH, partially because I don’t think I could handle the stress, but also because then I never would have had you for a teacher. By the end of the first week of school, I knew that this was going to be the best first hour I’d ever had, and you have yet to prove me wrong. Your unique teaching style leaves me, at times, question what it is I’m learning, but then I take the test and I realize I know everything. You make your class an experience, and there’s no better way to wake up every morning.
Mr. Chudy – for making me love a subject I always thought I would hate
Your enthusiasm is probably the only reason I like chemistry as much as I do; it’s nearly impossible not to, with the way your face lights up and your voice becomes so animated. I look forward to Chem every day because I know that whatever we do, you’ll make it interesting. Thank you for loving your subject, and for being one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
Ken George – for being more than all the words could express; for saying welcome home
The first thing I really remember you saying to me is that Ashlyn had told you that you had to take care of me. There’s not a moment when you haven’t followed through with that. When I walked into WFP every day—the only freshman, feeling scared and out of place—you never failed to ask me how my day was going. Your classroom slowly became home, and that’s because of you. You praised my writing, helping me become confident and inspired. You gave me a space to flourish and grow. I would not be the writer—or the person—that I am today without you. So when you said ‘welcome home’ as I walked into Honors English 10, it just felt right.
Veteran staff of The Central Trend – for being my home
I saved you guys for last because, honestly, where would I be without all of you? I want to say all of the words in the world to you guys, so you know how much I love you, but then I think I would exceed the already large word limit you guys set for me. Just know I love every one of you with my whole heart.
Amanda – I have distracted you from so much work, and yet, somehow, you are always ready to listen to my nonsensical rambling. Thank you for sharing your soft soul and exquisite individuality with me every day.
Jordan – You were my permanent editor for all of last year, and therefore, probably my most loyal reader. And yet, you’re so much more than that. Thank you for taking me under your wing and for being there every day so I knew I would always have someone to talk to in WFP.
Dana – I absolutely love your personality. It is so unique, so radiant, and so caring. You’re always, always, always willing to listen, even when I’m saying something ridiculous and always willing to come on mini field trips through the school with me. Thank you for always being unapologetically yourself.
Emma – I remember reading a review of yours last year, and thinking ‘that was the best review I’ve ever read.’ I think of that review often, particularly when I’m sitting down to write and just can’t. Thanks for answering the questions I randomly ask you, and for being gorgeous, inside and out.
Morgan – The work ethic you exhibit on a day-to-day basis is, honestly, inspiring. You always seem to be working on something, on top of a project, putting your best effort in. I admire your commitment and drive and your thought-provoking columns. Thank you for your strong confidence.
Lydia – At the beginning of the year, when you sat in the big chair next to me, I don’t think you know how much your little smiles meant to me. We would quietly giggle at the commotion across the room, and I loved those shared smiles. Thank you for your happiness.
Olivia – You were my first ever interview, and the first thing I thought was, “she’s so sweet.” Now, I know you are so much more than that. You are fierce, beautiful, confident, and passionate. But you still always smile at me in the hallways and ask me how my day is going. Thank you for never compromising your true self.
Meredith – Thank you forever for your hugs. For hugging me when you see me at theater. For wrapping your soul around the TCT room. For being a presence of vibrant love and creativity. I’m so glad I get to see your smile in sixth hour every day.
Linus – Oh, Linus. The first time I really talked to you it was about Paw Patrol. Nothing’s really changed. We let a very small amount of power go to our heads when we became Marketing Managers; anybody else would’ve laughed at me, but you understood. Thank you for your brilliant aura.
Lynlee – You have never once let me feel guilty about how often I come to you with questions and requests, and I don’t know if anything could ever express my gratitude for that. Thank you for endlessly reminding me of my worth, for crying with me, for laughing with me. Thank you for mirroring my soul, Lynlee.
Abby – Thank you for giving me space to be me. For letting me break out of my bubble and try new things. Thank you for writing profiles that rival all others. Thank you for letting me make this 2,000 words. Thank you for letting me lay on the floor and vent to you. You are the most calming presence–the most beautiful angel.
Courtney – You welcomed me in so readily—so vivaciously—sharing pieces of myself I’ve never found in anyone else before. You support me in every conceivable way—relating to all my problems and passions, making me feel not so crazy. Thank you for making me excited to publish a chapter of my short story every week; I always looked forward to you reading it.
Ashlyn – I remember sitting in a small white boat on the Udell’s lake with you–you told me how mature I was. It was one of many deep conversations I had with you, and it’s one of the many reasons I looked up to you. You’re like the big sister I never had. The impact you’ve had on me, with your wisdom and grace and serenity, has inspired me and molded my image of who I want to be. Thank you.