Dear Cecilia,

Though it took me four years, Cecilia, I finally have a response.


by Zoe Butler, Editor-in-Chief

In 2014, my older sister was a senior on Dart and wrote her final column as a letter introducing me to STA. Now, four years later, after living through it all, I’ve decided to respond.

Dear Cecilia,

You know I’ve always looked up to you. From helping me pick out the outfit I wore to my first mixer to the prom dress I wore about a month ago, you’ve always been the person I turn to, regarding clothes and otherwise. So, of course, I took this letter you wrote me all those years ago to heart, reading it more times than I can count throughout the years.

Freshman year: I’m going to finally admit that a good amount of people knew me because of you. Don’t let this go to your head, but upperclassmen would actually go out of their way to ask if I was your sister. You gave me some big shoes to fill. I stayed on my side of the stairs, I didn’t talk in silent study (at least for the first few months) and Mrs. Warwick knew me by name. I liked freshman year enough, but, even though I came from one of the biggest feeder schools, it was an adjustment. All of the sudden, I didn’t feel like I owned the school. I was majorly intimidated. I would actually practice the school chants, not wanting to be the one who fell behind. But I specifically remember sitting in the back of my math class, right next to Ana Ryan, a girl I hardly knew, crying with her about a math test we just failed. All of the sudden I started to become comfortable around these people I initially saw as strangers. It was a turning point.

Sophomore year: Sophomore year was one of my favorites and I credit it to what you said about not complaining. I didn’t take things for granted, and I finally started to get a glimpse of this so-called “sisterhood.” I challenged myself with my course load, I got onto Dart and I really started to branch out with my friends. This year, I was still out of the mindset that everything was done so I could go to college. I wanted good grades so my teachers would be proud of me, not some college representative I didn’t know. I wanted to participate in extracurriculars because I wanted to be involved with the school, not to build up my resume. I was in the present. One thing, though: What in the world did you use those dead bugs from freshman year for??

Junior year: When I think of high school, this is it. I could finally say that I was in love with the people I called my best friends — ones who saw me break my two front teeth in half at Dad’s wedding, ones I somehow got to travel with to a foreign country, ones I could talk to about anything. But the same time I was establishing my inner community, I was developing a much larger one — a community of 130 women, none of which felt like strangers. I forgot about the lotion tip, a big regret. But it wasn’t just paint. Somehow, I found about 20 different things I could put on my body, expressing my spirit: glitter, paint, powder from the color throw that turned my hair green for three weeks.

Senior year: Cecilia, I applied to 11 different colleges. Mom told me it became my hobby for a while, adding a new school to my list almost weekly. But you’re right, it never fully felt real. When people would ask where I’m looking or going, I’d give them a cold shoulder and reject the conversation completely.

All I wanted to do was savor the things that felt so “high school.” I wanted to spend every waking minute with the people who know Mom and Dad as well as they know their own. I’d spend hours crafting the perfect airbands music, ignoring the mountain of dreaded College Pre-Calc homework (though I know Mrs. Weller is an angel sent to Earth).

This was the year I realized what mattered most. I stopped getting embarrassed over little things because I’m surrounded by this insane support system: a group of girls who would never judge me and the bestest friends who would defend me with their lives. I started to stand up for myself. And I realized there was absolutely nothing a Rockhurst boy could say or do that would dampen this innate boldness that comes with being a girl at the academy.

It’s funny, I hadn’t thought about this much until rereading “this is the end” in your letter just now. But, per usual, you’re right. I won’t be pulling into the overstuffed parking lot late, always furious (though I knew good and well) that there weren’t any spots. I won’t be meeting Lily Manning weekly at Westport Coffee House to work (or attempt to work) on things for the Dart. I won’t get more than the six SBRs I managed to receive for wearing a sweatshirt. I won’t be able to mess around with Maeve Madden during class mass, somehow making it some of the best mornings at school. And I won’t be able to stand beside my sisters, paint smeared over every exposed inch of my skin, while screaming about how desperately I want a taste of “Sion meat.” This is the end.

I went back to the end of the tunnel in Donnelly. And, Cecilia, somehow, amongst the thousands of other names and scribbles, I found yours: “Cecilia Butler 2014.” As told, I signed right under yours in big, bold letters: “Zoe Butler 2018.”

Cecilia, thank you for the welcome. You got everything right.

— With love, Zoe

P.S. I can drive you to the airport tomorrow for your three week Europe excursion.