Sydney Johnson’s Senior Testimonial

Sydney Johnson '21, Contributing Writer

Dear WHS,

You have been my home for the last four years and like any home, there have been good and bad memories. Each hallway, classroom, and staircase has a memory associated with it. From freshman year learning where the staircases are to senior year learning which staircases to go up and which ones to go down, it has definitely been an experience.

After being diagnosed with two mental illnesses early this year, I felt as though I would be greatly supported because of how much you advocate for mental health. However, I did not find that to be the case. You are too driven on grades and academic achievements. Although being repeatedly told that “grades don’t define you,” I never felt this was true here. One day, junior year I went down to guidance crying because I had been dealing with some issues at home. Instead of being met with someone to comfort me and listen to what I had to say, the first thing I was told was: “Let’s check your grades.” WHS, your students may begin to be happier at school if you practice what you preach. Dealing with my mental health became a challenge I had felt like I had to deal with it on my own. You contributed to how I felt day to day, but didn’t properly teach me how to deal with it.

Like every other senior in this school, I could never have imagined this was how my last year of high school would turn out. I made the best out of it, but it still wasn’t great. I felt a lack of appreciation for my accomplishment of finally becoming a senior. Seeing “Congratulations Class of 2020” posters around the school and town after our senior year started, I felt forgotten. I felt as though it wasn’t completely recognized how difficult this year was going to be for us. Having no prom, no football games under the lights, no Homecoming, no senior ball didn’t feel great. But, you forgot to realize how difficult it was going to be to feel alone in a school full of people.

I have grown all throughout high school, but I have noticed the biggest growth from September of senior year to now. I struggled a lot at the beginning of the school year. I found it too difficult to come into school, so I found myself missing classes and falling behind. The student who practically received straight A’s her whole life had turned into someone who was hardly seen in school. It was a really tough time in my life and I didn’t feel proud of who I was. However, with the help of some amazing teachers, the school psychologist, friends and classmates, I was encouraged to continue on. The year turned around and I was motivated to finish the year off strong. After thinking that all of my hard work over the last 12 years only led to a year full of disappointments, I got into college. Opening those acceptance letters helped me realize that high school is just a small part of my life. This isn’t the end, but the beginning of another amazing journey.

WHS, I can criticize you on all the things I felt were unfair, but you have changed my life. You have thrown challenges at me, and I learned how to overcome them. You have given me high school dances (shoutout Stuco), football games, and shows. More importantly, you helped me find myself. Although it has taken until senior year, I know that I criticize myself too much, but now, I can recognize that I am still learning and growing. If it wasn’t for that one English class I was placed in freshman year, I wouldn’t be friends with the amazing people I’m friends with now.

That one bad teacher taught me that I can learn on my own. That one good teacher taught me to focus on the things that I have accomplished, not the things I didn’t. That one math class taught me that I can challenge myself. That one other math class taught me that I maybe shouldn’t challenge myself too much.

The opportunities I have gotten here I will remember forever. Genesis Club not only gave me the opportunity to learn about a great cause, but also allowed me to meet amazing people. Going to Fenway to play with the kids on the field and hit from home plate is something I never thought I would get to experience. Or giving the kids toys from Santa and seeing the joy it brought them when they opened it. I saw first-hand how strong these kids are and how living life with a genetic disorder can’t stop them from doing great things.

Regarding the gymnastics team, I don’t know how to put it into words how much fun I had on that team. After quitting club gymnastics in eighth grade, I still joined the high school team and I’m so glad I did. The memories I made there don’t compare to anything else I did in high school. If you think being on a team that went completely defeated our freshman year wouldn’t be fun, you’d be wrong. The friendships I made from that team are unmatched. This sport let me jump around and goof off, but also work hard to acquire new skills. Not only did I have fun in the gym, but I would give anything to experience another bus ride. I have so much love for that team and watching it grow from eight members my freshman year to 17 my senior year has been really special. To all my ladies on that team: I love you.

Class of 2021, I really do love you all. Although we didn’t get the chance to properly celebrate our last year together, I know all of you will go on to do amazing things. I have made friendships with people from all different backgrounds with all different stories. When I first came to Westborough in 2012, I was welcomed with open arms. From there, I found out that this town has something special. I am currently sitting at my favorite spot here, Chauncy Lake, wondering how I can leave this place, although I’ve spent the last few years saying that I can’t wait to. The people and the places make Westborough feel like a home and I’m so happy that I got a chance to experience it.

I’ll catch you all later,
Sydney Johnson