Matthew Willar ’22: Senior Testimonial

Matthew Willar '22, Co-Editor

I Gotta Feeling that I’m going to really miss WHS. Not the school. Not the classes. But the experiences it gave me. Four years ago, I was getting ready for finals my freshman year. Three years ago, I was sitting at home in a Zoom class with Mr. Chapman playing trivia (winning every time of course). Last year, I was sitting in Mrs. Stoker’s Journalism II class watching all the seniors write their senior testimonials. Now, I’m doing the same thing, after four crazy years at 90 West Main Street. 

High school has had so many ups and downs. It’s been like a long road trip, but with so many dead ends. The first stop was my freshman year. Two weeks before school started, I was welcomed to Student Council by the incredibly energetic sophomore, junior, and senior classes. I was going into high school with no traffic, just smooth sailing. 

I then went on to manage the boy’s basketball team, and we won our first District Title since 1991. The drive continued to be a success. 

Everything was going great until I hit my first dead end: Student Council Eboard Elections. It was the most intense thing I had ever experienced. In all honesty, these elections just cause unnecessary stress. We keep saying “If you don’t win, don’t get down on yourself, you’re still going to do amazing things for Council.” But in reality, losing that election put me in a situation where I was being told what to do, and having the people who won be in control of everything without the say of anyone else. It took me a long time to get over this experience. 

It wasn’t until September of 2019 when I took a U-turn. I walked through the doors of Mrs. Stoker’s journalism class, and my attitude towards high school changed. It was this day that I will credit for who I am today.  And it would never have happened without Mike Doherty, Matt Doherty, and Ethan Steinberg who encouraged me  to take journalism. 

Journalism has taught me everything. I have truly learned what freedom means from this class. It doesn’t mean “do what you want”, it means “express yourself how you want.” I have been able to express my feelings, opinions, emotions, and frustrations in a way that I never thought possible. I can’t imagine where I would be without this class, and I can’t see myself being the same person without this experience. The people I have met from journalism have been authentic, real, and encouraging. Everyone has taught me something, whether it be what section to publish an article under or to take a risk regardless of what the outcome will be. 

Communication is the most important skill in life. I take that back. Effective communication is the most important skill in life. I have failed so many times at this prior to journalism, and to this day I still have failed at it numerous times. But what effective communication unlocks is a set of doors that provide you with endless opportunities. 

I credit journalism for my experience last year in Miami. I know you are all rolling your eyes right now as you think I’m about to tell you my story from meeting the Black Eyed Peas last year. That whole experience would have never happened if it wasn’t for the communication skills I learned from journalism. From this, I was later elected to Student Council’s Executive Board, and was selected to be a Co-Editor for The Lobby O. My road trip was at its peak. I was going into senior year with a lot of confidence. 

After a very difficult junior year due to COVID and so much stress going on in the world, my senior year felt so rewarding. This year has been the perfect conclusion to my four years at WHS, and I have really enjoyed taking a wide variety of classes. I am so grateful to all of the people at WHS, especially those who don’t show hatred towards people for different opinions. It has been a really great year, and I am so thankful that my senior year wasn’t as affected by COVID. 

I would like to thank my family for everything you have done for me during high school. Mom, you are the first person I go to for anything. We may have our disagreements but you always are there for me, and I can’t thank you enough. Dad, being your basketball manager has been one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. You could have picked anyone to do that job, but you chose me. Thank you for taking me to the Clark Tournament since I was a little kid. Watching Quabbin and Nashoba win and seeing the excitement of winning, I never thought we would be in that position, but because of your leadership as a coach, you gave the team and me one of the most rewarding experiences of our lifetime.  Thank you for always having your office unlocked downstairs, and sorry for icing the kid at the free-throw line in the Marlborough game resulting in our 12th loss of the season this year. 

Hannah, please continue to take journalism throughout high school. Enjoy every second of high school, because soon enough, you’ll be writing your senior testimonial, hopefully thanking me for being the best brother. Meme, thank you for our early morning political conversations and our trips to the Cape. Grandma, thanks for our debates on who should win Dancing with the Stars and our disagreements on Marcus Smart. Pa, thanks for supporting me in every way possible. And to the rest of my extended family, thanks for believing in me in anything I do. 

To the 2019 Boys Basketball team, thank you for winning the League, Clark Tournament and District Titles! In all seriousness though, thank you for including me in everything that season, and for welcoming me to the high school. I rarely cry, but one of the only times I cried was when we lost in the state semi-final game VS Taconic. When I look back on it now, I wasn’t crying because we lost, but because it was the last time I would get to see this team play on the basketball court. The memories from that year are some I will never forget. Thank you especially to Mike Doherty, Matt Doherty, and Ethan Steinberg for encouraging me to take journalism. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you. 

To the Black Eyed Peas, yeah laugh all you want…thank you for getting me through my junior year. When I joined your promotion team, my life changed forever, and I can’t thank you enough for giving me this opportunity. I would like to especially thank Leoh and Rachel for getting me to Miami last year, DJ Motiv8 for teaching me even more communication skills, and, for being my inspiration since I was five years old. We have so many more memories to make together and I am so honored to be part of this organization. 

To Harrison Israel and the 2018-2019 Student Council Officers, thank you for choosing me to be on student council. Because of you, I was able to attend numerous MASC events where I made some of my closest friends, and I can’t thank you enough for giving me this opportunity that I was a part of for all four years of high school. 

To my Advanced Journalism class, thank you for being the class that I looked forward to every day. We have been on this road trip together since day one, and I could not have asked for a better group of people to be on it with. One memory that I will never forget is when my first article was published. I remember Tyler, Noah, Brady, Jack, Owen, Matty, Rahim, and Colin being so excited for me and applauding me. It was the first time in high school that people were proud of me. 

Thank you to Dawn Carlo and Jackie from Water Wizz for hiring me. Working at Fales for the past three years has allowed me to expand my leadership skills. I have learned so much from working with the kids at Fales, and I am going to miss this job next year. I really enjoyed working at Water Wizz last summer, and I am looking forward to working there again this year. Thank you Jackie for believing in me and allowing me to work at the place where I have dreamed of working since I was a little kid. 

I also want to give a big thank you to Tracy from Westborough Nutrition for making me the best turbo teas every morning, and to everyone in Aruba who allowed me to live my best life. 

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to Mrs. Stoker. Ever since I stepped foot into your class three years ago, my life changed forever. Everything you have taught me has made me the person I am today. Thank you for allowing me to express myself and share my opinions (even if we disagreed on something), and for helping me get through high school. You have been the first person I go to for anything, and you have helped me navigate challenges in the hardest of times. I am going to miss your class, and as sad as I am to not be a Co-Editor anymore, I know that next year’s staff is going to carry on the legacy that The Lobby O has given me. 

To the Class of 2023, 2024, and 2025, one piece of advice I want you to take is this: whatever position you hold in any group, don’t act like you know everything. Be the same person you were without the position, and don’t let people with higher positions act better than you. Be on the road trip with the people who make you feel like the best version of yourself. Positions mean nothing if you act like the boss of everything. 

High school has been such a crazy journey. Throughout this road trip, there have been countless dead ends, and if it wasn’t for journalism, there would have been so many more. One thing I always ask myself is something the Black Eyed Peas have been asking since the year I was born: Where Is the Love? This is what gave me an amazing four years. Before you do anything, ask yourself where the love is. Make sure what you are doing is something that you love, and something that isn’t going to cause you to take a detour. Do this, and high school will be as amazing as it was for me for you. 

Thank you, WHS for all of the memories you have given me. Although this chapter of my life is coming to an end, my journey in journalism is just beginning. I am incredibly excited to be attending Assumption University next year. Let’s Get It Started…and Celtics in 5.