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Strike: A type of beginning

"Let's take a serious one." -Orla McGrath

Johnny Howlett

"Let's take a serious one." -Orla McGrath

Johnny Howlett

Johnny Howlett

"Let's take a serious one." -Orla McGrath

Strike: A type of beginning

When I first began this project, there were a number of things I hoped to take away. The first was relatively simple—something I have learned to love through four years of Journalism. I wanted to see people in their element. High school sometimes begins to feel like an exercise of going through the motions, of going to class, doing an extracurricular (or four, or ten), and then sleeping enough to do it all again. Journalism, though, gave me the privilege of witnessing moments.

When I saw Fossil Ridge High School’s production of Rent for the first time, I cried. Not only was the story touching at a time that I needed to see it, but everything about the show screamed passion. I felt the thousands of hours that had been spent to transport the audience to another place, and I wanted to be a part of that because it really inspired me. That was the first reason I joined tech: I sought something in my last semester of high school that felt gritty and daring and real.

The next reason was that I wanted to go into college a more confident individual. I was by no means an introvert, but I certainly was not one to walk into a room and command attention. I hated speaking in front of big groups and hated even more the feeling of being out of place. I saw tech as an opportunity to show myself that I could complete a project, even when I began knowing nothing.

That certainly turned out to be true, too. I learned how to use a drill (mostly from holding pieces of wood while other people operated the machinery, but I could do it on my own). I found a veritable new language, containing directions such as, “in the booth” and “from the pit,” and eventually found my way. I jumped onto the crash pad beneath the stage, drank the leftover prop cider with run crew, and felt the glow of pride each time the audience stood and clapped by the end of a show night.

Those were the lessons I hoped to learn, and I am grateful to have experienced them. But, reflecting now on what I really took away from the One Man, Two Guvnors production, it was the friends I made during so many late nights with little sleep that made tech into something I will never forget. It feels like there is no better way to really reflect on my own experiences than to thank the ones who made them mean the world.

Keldyn: We had never met before I arrived in the booth one day, but you welcomed me in so genuinely that I was instantly at home. You are legitimately one of the kindest people I have ever met, and I want you to know that I appreciated every smile, interview, and conversation with you that made me feel accepted.

Sandy: We ran into one another so often (literally, in the dark) that I think we were bound to get along. We always found something to laugh at together, yet you never laughed at any of my dumb questions. Thank you for introducing me to bomb music, taking charge when everyone else stepped back, and being someone I could look up to.

Ben: If someone had told me at the beginning that I would end up counting among my friends the kid who unabashedly jumped into the pit and seemed to know everything about building a set, I would not have believed them. However, you taught me how to do everything from fall without harm to smile without reason, and seeing you brightened every day. Thank you.

Kim: You are unafraid to be who you are, to step up and lead others when necessary and to recognize when someone else needs a turn. You radiate light and kindness and the same things always made us laugh. Thank you for reminding us all that it is okay to be who we are.

Johnny: You are the reason I had the confidence to walk down the theater hall months before auditions and ask to do something no one had done before. Thank you for teaching me to use power tools and identify saw types, and for believing in me.

Danielle: We became friends over Wendy’s, Janice the periakoti, and so much time spent in low-light situations, and there is no one I would rather have experienced sleep deprivation-induced hilarity with. Thank you for reminding me I could be anything I wanted to be.

Chris: You possess a list of skills spanning from running a lights board to not getting electrocuted to giving the best hugs. Thank you for trusting me to do jobs I never had before, to sink the eight ball into the right pocket, and with your friendship.

Thomas: It drove me nuts that you always insisted on being the one to handle the most dangerous jobs, but I understand now that you did it out of an inability to see anyone else get hurt. You pour your soul into everything you do, and thank you for reminding me to never be afraid to do the same.

Nikki: You made me feel anchored in a crazy world. You are a wonderful listener, possess an uncanny ability to know when someone needs to go for a walk, and embody every possible bit of love and kindness.Thank you for cleaning up our figurative and literal messes and reminding us that we are okay.

Eli: You always seemed to find me just when I needed you, and it was so comforting to know there was someone around who had my back, no matter what. Thank you for showing me how to hold my head high and how to feel fiercely.

Caroline: Despite my being three years older than you, I constantly found you to be my mentor, the one I could always count on, and a friend I am truly lucky to have. Thank you for pulling everything together so the rest of us could enjoy the ride.

Katie: You welcomed me and supported me from day one, never failing to invite me into every situation that scared me. You taught me so much about what it means to be brave, and that being kind to everyone is perhaps the most important way of all. I cannot wait to hear about all the adventures life takes you on. You have forever inspired me to reach farther.

Naomi: You were with me through ups and downs, through tears shed over college and laughs over everything else. You handle chaos with grace and stand by your beliefs, and your confidence in yourself is astounding. Please know that you deserve every bit of it. Thank you for being so much to me, but mostly, thank you for being my friend.

And, ultimately, to every person who worked on this show along the way: you have taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. I know now that high school is not really about witnessing passion, not really about getting over your fears. It is about diving in and trusting that those around you will be there to pull you back up.

So in response to my own first One Man article, which I called “One final family” in hopes that that was what I would find, I say this:

The memories you make in high school will shape you, and the friends you find will show you who you want to be. You will do so much that scares you, and you will find your way out the other side. Someone will always be there to guide you, even if it is someone you never would have expected.

It was never about endings. Strike is just the start.

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