Perspective: Olivia Haworth, Elkhart Central

High School. It’s amazing how just two words can hold so much power in our world. Since the day I entered kindergarten, I began to dream about high school. So much of my world has been influenced by the idea of the four years spent in high school. It’s hard to ignore. It’s everywhere – in the movies and on TV, and it’s described in the pages of the books we read. It’s safe to say that upon entering high school, my expectations were pretty high.

Because of the genuine compassion and dedication to the students, the teachers and staff of Elkhart Central High School have made sure my high school experience exceeded expectations. You can’t really write a tribute to high school without mentioning them. It’s easy to say that I’m biased, but the faculty that works at ECHS is truly second to none. They deserve the world, they put up with all the wacky things we bring to the table each day. They remain patient in the midst of the impatience of adolescence, and they genuinely care about your well being.

Luckily, the excellence displayed at Central is not unique to the building on Blazer Blvd. Every student who goes to Elkhart Community Schools is treated with the same compassion and drive that I have been treated with at Elkhart Central. Elkhart truly is a fantastic place to grow and learn as an individual. The best people in the world work for Elkhart Community Schools.

Going to school in Elkhart, you don’t just learn about math, science, and language arts. You learn empathy, compassion, and kindness. You form bonds with people completely different than you. You get to try experiences completely outside of your comfort zone. You get to find your own unique way to excel. Regardless of your past, Elkhart embraces your future, and gives you the opportunities needed to succeed.

Elkhart Community Schools offers you a myriad of opportunities to help your fellow students as well as the Elkhart community. The drive and desire to help each other spreads through our hallways and bonds us together. There are a few moments I know I will never forget; moments that hit you and you think to yourself, “this is exactly how I pictured high school.” Whether it was the bond of our student section, the camaraderie of the Hairspray cast, or the scratch in your throat following the Mangy Lion game, there are these tiny moments, these stunning infinite moments where you know you are a part of something special. Fortunately, I have felt these experiences repeatedly.

That’s the thing I’ve learned about high school: you go into it with all these expectations, but really it comes down to what you make of it. The way you feel about high school is entirely your choice. At Central the choice is easy: love it. Experience it fully, bask in that feeling where you’re screaming the fight song under the lights of Rice Field, friends and strangers next to you, singing the same battle cry. Live in the moment. High school is about so much more than AP tests and final exams. You learn so much more than SOHCAHTOA and Shakespeare – you learn about life, you learn about people, and how they should be treated.

As graduation approaches much too fast, I am forever grateful to have learned so much about life at Elkhart Central High School. Elkhart is blessed to have great schools where fantastic individuals are being taught by other fantastic individuals. As so much about my life is changing, it’s nice to know that the core of my life, the values instilled in me during my time here, will live within me forever. There’s a reason high school is so often referenced in pop culture: it happens to everyone. If you’re lucky enough, like I have been, to experience high school in Elkhart, you can be sure wherever the future takes you, you are more than ready to face it.

[Olivia Haworth was selected as the student speaker for Elkhart Central’s commencement ceremony.]