As I endure my last days at St. Teresa’s Academy, I have been reflecting on the past four years. I wanted to write something to you all to explain my experience, but words cannot suffice. Instead, I would like to share a speech I wrote about my first day at STA, because the speech still applies to my thoughts and feelings about STA today.
“I take a deep breath as I walk through the doors, it’s the morning of my very first day,” Taylor Swift said it best in her song “Fifteen” which is about the first day of high school. On Thursday, August 15, 2013, I walked through the doors of St. Teresa’s Academy for the very first time. It was a hot, 90 degree August day, and I was shaking with nervousness and excitement. I walked up the stairs of M&A for the first time in my tartan plaid skirt and my white polo shirt to check in to my advisory. I was greeted by my advisor with a great big, “Hey Paige! Welcome to STA!” and from that moment I knew that soon I would be able to call this place my home. As I walked with my advisory to the Passing of the Legacy ceremony, a rush of anxiety came over me. I thought that maybe I had made the wrong choice, and that I should’ve gone to St. Thomas Aquinas instead. At Passing of the Legacy, I found some girls I play soccer with and sat with them and their friends. The girls were very nice and that’s when I realized everyone was nervous just like I was. As we walked down the bleacher stairs to receive our prayer cards, medals and awkward hugs from the seniors, each senior said to each freshman, “Welcome to STA!” That day, I felt so welcome, and I began to know that I made the right decision, because at that very moment, I knew I belonged here with my STA sisters.
“Because we are sisters, we stand together, we make up one big family but we don’t look the same.” Whenever I hear this song, all I can think of is St. Teresa’s Academy. But not everything at STA was rainbows and butterflies like I expected. In the middle of my freshman year, I left one weekend to go out of town for a soccer tournament. When I came back, things were uneasy and awkward. Is this what it would be like for the rest of the year? What had happened when I was gone? Everything was tense. Everything was awkward. I turned to my friend Anna to see what was going on. Apparently over the weekend I was out of town, a lot of stuff went down between my friend group. My friend group had split into two over a stupid fight, and because I was out of town, I was stuck in the middle of it all. I didn’t know what to do, it was only the second month of my high school life. “Is this what it’s really like?” I thought to myself. I had no reason to worry. Every high school has drama, every group of friends goes through rough patches. A week later, the drama subsided, and everything was back to normal. All the doubts I had about St. Teresa’s in that short period of time faded away.
St. Teresa’s Academy has taught me to be confident in myself and to never take life too seriously. Since it is an all girl’s school, typically not a lot of the students get fixed up for school. In grade school I would be too self-conscious to leave the house without makeup and unbrushed hair. Now I go to school every day completely all natural and it has really made me comfortable in my own skin and has boosted my self-confidence. I will never forget my first day of acting class. Ms. Prentiss had such a great, bubbly personality and she made it so easy to break out of my shell. We had to lip sync and make up dances with people we had never met. It gave us a chance to be crazy and be ourselves in front of people we didn’t even know. I will never forget that class, because it set the tone for my high school career.
At this school, I am not afraid to be myself. I know that no matter what I say or do I will not be judged, because my STA sisters are always there for me, as I am for them. St. Teresa’s has defined me by giving me the self-confidence to always be myself, and by introducing me to so many new friendships that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else.
This is all still true four years later. As I get out of my own car in my ratty, old, stained, white STA shirt, my tattered tartan plaid skirt, and walk to my last senior tailgate on my last day of high school, I am reminded of all of the memories, stories, lessons, and friendships I have made since that hot 90 degree first day of school. I remember the Sion vs. STA games, breading advisories, the classic “it’s gone” joke withand the massive email chains, stuffing your face at advisory parties, singing our hearts out and clapping to the beat at class masses, yard days with friends, student appreciation days where all the surrounding schools are jealous of how much fun we have, the amazing teachers who have made such a tremendous impact on not only academics but our lives as well, the random dance parties in the gym and quad, bistro chocolate chip cookies, and most importantly the smiling faces of all the girls in the halls chatting and always being there to say a big “heyyyyyyyyyyy!”, even if you don’t feel like talking to anyone. These are the things I will always remember. “We’re moving on, letting go, holding on to tomorrow. But I always got the memories when I’m finding out who I want to be. We may be apart but I hope you’ll always know, you’ll be with me… wherever I go.”
Thanks for giving me the best high school experience I could have ever asked for. I could not be more grateful for my forever STA sisters.
With all my love,