Senior Testimonial: Kiley Vallee ’22

Kiley Vallee '22, Co Editor

As I’m struggling to write this senior testimonial, my thoughts aren’t organized, and reflecting on the entirety of my high school career is really difficult right now. I have feelings regarding this chapter’s end, but putting them onto a Google Doc is really daunting, as though I’m at a  dead end. Summarizing my experiences is not the end, but just a placeholder to find closure and move onto the next. 

I look around this classroom, where I see faces of classmates I’ve known since kindergarten and some I have met more recently throughout the years. We are all headed in different directions, branching out of this hub of Westborough Public Schools that kept us together for years. I am thrilled to see what everyone does in the future; whether it’s college, work, the military, etc., we are all following different paths, each filled with possibility and growth.  The Class of 2022 hasn’t had it easy–we really only had one normal year of high school where we watched in awe of the upperclassmen, ready for our turn. Who knew we would be thrown for such a turn of events? 

Freshman year I was so naive to the fact that cherishing every moment would be of utmost importance to me as the last week of school approaches. I truly believe our class has learned so much and changed for the better through it. I want to preface this with a big congratulations to everyone in the Class of 2022 for your accomplishments and I’m so grateful for the memories through it all.

Each year of high school was so uniquely different, whether it was the lessons I learned, people I met, or classes I took. To share some wisdom, I’ll recount each year. 

I vividly remember the nervous wreck I was as I walked through the double doors of WHS in 2018 straight off of Bus 9 (that of course came late on my first day of school). I had math first period and walked in halfway through because I was walking around the third floor hallway in circles, thinking it was a never ending loop. Within a few weeks of navigating the school, I came to find out I was just walking the same area over and over again and the classroom did in fact exist… crazy right?! This first day story pretty much sums up the hot mess I was as a freshman. My grades were terrible, I was awkward, I had very little motivation, and not much involvement socially or extracurricularly. I grew apart from most of my friends in middle school, so I went into WHS feeling lost and with a desire to fit in. I was very invested in dance, which I loved, but I couldn’t be consumed by dance and I couldn’t let high school activities overtake my passion for dance. Finding balance this year was key. By May of freshman year, I started to branch out and met some people who I still call my best friends today. We spent the whole summer together and I finally felt like I had people in my life who I could go to other than family and dance friends. Any freshman reading this who feels the same way I did… I promise there is so much hope regarding the rest of your high school career. I encourage you to find at least one person at the school you can go to, because social support is so helpful throughout whatever you do. 

My sophomore year was one of my favorite years despite the pandemic uprooting everyone’s lives that random day in mid-March. I started off by making memories with some great friends and continued to meet new people. I took initiative to get involved more and go to school events more often, like sports games, volunteering, and clubs. I also must pay tribute to one of the most influential turning points that changed my high school career for the better. I entered the door to Mrs. Stoker’s room, negligent to what journalism even was (I thought it was a journal writing class). Almost immediately, I discovered a passion for the subject and found a school activity I could enjoy being involved in. The Lobby Observer became a place where I could use my creativity through my writer’s voice and find my voice through its platform.Though the class only lasted one semester, I was intent on taking Journalism 2 the following year and continuing to work on my journalism skills.

Now onto a huge bump in the road that impacted every aspect of everyone’s life in some way, shape, or form. In my case, I think I could write a 20 page paper about my experience through the Covid-19 pandemic. The images flash through my mind as I remember the emails announcing we will have a weekend break, which turned into a two week break, then a few month break, finally becoming a never-ending break. At first, I was devastated. I was growing relationships with so many new people, and finding enjoyment in so many of my classes. Hearing we wouldn’t have  the dance competition season or a recital at the end of the year was so unfortunate. After a certain amount of time in quarantine, I reached a turning point within my perspective. I realized that our frustrations and annoyances could only last so long and that there could be positive change to come out of a trying time. They do say, “Everything you are comes from your choices.” You choose whether it was miserable or positive, so why not make the best of it? That’s all I could do, so that’s exactly what I did.

Each day in quarantine was monotonous. I would occasionally FaceTime and Zoom with friends and family, I had dance every night, I took a lot of time to focus on myself, and went on a lot of family walks. I seriously think that without that period of time I had to myself, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I do now. It taught me a lot about my own motivations, feelings, and how I handle stress. As cliche as it is, it also taught me to not take things for granted because things can change in the blink of an eye, which is something I will definitely take with me to college.

In-person school resumed my junior year and I remember being so excited to go back. Although it wasn’t “normal”, I was happy to be with teachers, classmates, and in a classroom for a change. This year truly taught me how to adapt to new situations and to be grateful for every opportunity you get. Though I only went to school in person for two days a week, I managed to make the most of it. On the days I wasn’t in school, I’d catch up on sleep, see my friends and do school together, or take time to myself which was much needed. I kept consistent in my classes, prepared for college, and continued to do more in school. 

Finally, I entered my senior year, a year I had been waiting for with senior privileges, like the first day of school parade, different festivities, and college preparation. The year started out super stressful; college essays, applications, and making sure I have everything ready. I applied to ten colleges, and honestly had a lot of reluctance with this process. When I look back, I wish I had conducted more research on the schools, because in the end I realized many of the schools I applied to weren’t a great fit for me. What if I didn’t get into them? That’s where my dilemma came. 

In December I was deferred from one of my top schools and I was devastated. Once again, I tried to see the positive of the situation. I continued to work, and I was later accepted in March, which was a huge accomplishment for me. There’s a feeling I had when I got accepted to this school, like a 20 lb weight lifted off my shoulders, all the stress I’ve been living everyday with (sometimes unknowingly) regarding college went away. When looking back on my senior year from September-March, I absolutely regret the pressure I put on myself. I was extremely tense, worried, and had a negative outlook on how things would turn out. If I have any advice regarding this process, I say to stay calm , and know that things will turn out in the right direction in the end. As hard as it feels to sit back and let things unfold after you apply to your colleges, it’s the best thing to do in order to salvage your mental health.

During the second semester, things started looking up. I heard back from most of my colleges, I just had to make a decision. I made it a priority to savor every moment, live in the present, and make the most out of my last few months of high school. I was a part of the Mr. WHS production crew and have loved every minute of it. I have met and become close with some amazing people in my grade and had so much fun. I continued to write for Lobby O, dancing everyday, and spending as much time with my friends as possible. I had dance competitions where I competed a solo and worked hard to choreograph myself. I won my first title at a competition and savored every last moment on stage. 

With this recount of my high school, I want to leave you with a few pieces of advice I wish I had heard in the past.

  1.  Find something outside of school you enjoy; whether it be a sport, activity, hobby, anything else. Yes, school is important to get involved with, but don’t let it consume your entire life. Make sure you find a balance. For me, I would be involved in school with Lobby O and volunteerism, but had dance outside of school that I could go to afterwards.
  2. Make meaningful connections with friends and teachers. Don’t burn bridges with people and be kind, no matter what happens.
  3. Most of all, and something I wish I could go back and tell myself is to not take things as seriously. Yes, some things are meant to be serious, but remember to let loose and have fun throughout.

Now onto the sappy thank you’s. I’ll start with my parents. Mom and Dad, thanks for all you do for me, and supporting me in all I do. To my siblings, Delaney, Nora, and Jack, you all drive me nuts sometimes, but I am grateful for all the memories we’ve made together. Savor your younger years, and make the best out of every situation. 

I have to mention my best friends who have gotten me through high school, Lia and Cassie–I appreciate every experience we’ve been through together. You both have stuck by me for years and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future. Good luck at WSU and Stonehill!

To my lifelong friends, Anna and Liv, you guys are seriously the best. I can’t thank you enough for the dance memories we’ve made, coffee trips, competitions, and hang outs. Good luck to Anna at Steps on Broadway, and Liv for continuing at Sacred Heart. 

To my dance team, Team Grace, thanks for such a fulfilling last year of dance. Although we came into class not knowing each other or what would happen, we instantly clicked and I’m so grateful for that. Every night at the studio is so fun and I can’t thank you all enough for that.

To my dance teachers, Rachel, Maria, Michael, Lynda, Natalie, Katie, Lindsey, Kerri Ann, and Caroline–you have been such an imminent part of my life and of my growth both in dance and as a person. I value each connection I have with you and I can’t wait to come back and visit. You have provided me countless opportunities for success and building blocks of life.

To all of my students I’ve met throughout the last five years assisting at CKDC, thank you for showing me new perspectives each day. The thing I look forward to every week is assisting you all and sharing my passion for dance. Some of you I’ve known for one year, some I’ve known since you were babies and I have grown connections with each of you. I can’t wait to come back and visit next year.

One of the biggest parts of my high school experience ties into Lobby O. Mrs. Stoker– I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom, kindness, and generosity. Ever since I met you during sophomore year, you have been nothing but a role model not only to me, but to everyone else in our class. You care about each and every one of your students, and I think we can all attest to that. 

To Advanced Journalism, thanks for such great memories we’ve formed over the past three years. Even though we fight like siblings sometimes, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I want to say a special thank you to Shannon, who has gotten me through some of the toughest days. You are so supportive, and I will miss you, the king, and our coffee quests so much. I can’t wait to watch you thrive and grow next year. 

With this, I want to implore you to savor your time. If you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior, live in the present and focus on your time now because it will be gone in a flash. Find the best out of each experience, have fun, work hard, and be kind. Thank you WHS for a great four years and to all my teachers for all you’ve instilled in me. I am so grateful for the opportunities provided, and I’m excited to move on to the next chapter at Providence College next year!