Tommy McGinn: Senior Testimonial


Tommy McGinn '23, Executive Producer

Who am I? Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question. As my days quickly come to an end in high school, I have been constantly reflecting on the great memories I have made in the past 4 years, but also how much life is going to change. Even though I’m a senior, I feel like I am still that naive freshman kid unsure about my future and a lot left to prove in my life. High school for me wasn’t the best or worst time as many people make it out to be, it was a good balance of good memories and learning moments. The scariest part about moving on from high school is not necessarily just the classes or friends I’ll miss, but for me, it’s the major life decisions we are dependent to make in the immediate future.

I entered the doors of WHS in September 2019. Walking through the doors for the first time was incredibly intimidating. Recalling it all now, I still have no idea how I pulled myself together to finish four years of this.

Freshman year for me was the year of mistakes. I can’t think of enough ways I screwed up this year whether it was my GPA, time management, and overall prioritization. But if there was one thing that went right was the formation of an iconic friend group. I can’t imagine what high school would have been without my friends. Shoutout to the guys Jake, the Michaels (both of them), Eshaan, Mehtabh, Connor, Jay, Brady, Jack, Drew, and Greg to name a few. It seems so obvious, but this group taught me that no adventure, hangout, or story is worth anything if you can’t share it with your friends.

I can’t talk about freshman year without mentioning the elephant in the room. On March 13, 2020 I walked into my health class. I was the only one there. The rumors filled the halls, but the bottomline was that absolutely no one knew what Covid-19 was or what would happen in the next few years. Despite being online for school, having to wear masks, and not being able to socialize like we used to, it was one of my favorite times. Initially, my friends and I could only Facetime and play video games all day, but eventually, we would bike downtown and hang out every day. We really made the best out of a bad situation.

If you do happen to mess up your freshman year, just know it is not the end of the world, you can recover, and it is better to try things out and fail miserably than to keep yourself in a bubble.

My sophomore year is when my life started to turn around. Frustrated with how my freshman year turned out, I wanted redemption. I was set to make an academic comeback. This was the notorious year of hybrid schooling. I repped the Navy cohort, and looking back at it was a strange time. For practically an entire school year you just wouldn’t see half of your peers. Although many people despised this period of time, I thrived. Having every other day to relax really felt nice. I also really liked the period of isolation because it was a time when I was able to work on myself and develop. Freshman year was a very confusing time and having a hiatus to start to figure out who you are for a few months was extremely helpful.

Sophomore year I joined Student Council which was one of the best choices I’ve made. I met so many amazing people. Later I went on to run for the executive board which I, unfortunately, lost after a few runoffs, but it was a good experience to learn to deal with the loss. To be a part of a club that is bigger than yourself is really impactful.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get involved. For me, I wish I had started a club in high school. Yet, I made so many great relationships through the different organizations I did join, and will forever be grateful for that.

The time period of sophomore year when covid restrictions had dropped in the spring and everyone started socializing again in May–was one of the best times at WHS. It was like the storm had finally passed and life was blooming again.

Junior year for many is seen for many as the hardest year in high school. Yet it really depends on what you choose to do. If you choose a challenging schedule then it definitely will be. This is the most important year for grades and it can be very stressful. I remember this year changed me. I just remember all the rough nights staying up til 2 a.m. grinding for my classes. It was a horrible time but it’s just something you gotta push through, and looking back I’m happy I worked as hard as I did. Sometimes a little pain and suffering for long-term success is what’s in our best interest.

Looking back, sparks my disappointment with the school system. It feels like in these years we are pushed to extreme exhaustion to get the best grades, have the best extra-curriculars, and overall be perfect for the college admission process. The truth of that matter is we aren’t perfect and never will be. Growing up in an academically-oriented town like Westborough makes it even harder to deal with the overwhelming pressure. The bottomline is you can’t make your whole life about grades. If you just aimlessly are going through the motions and have nothing to look forward to each day, life becomes miserable and overall pointless. Junior year was that for me.

This year I took my talents to the rec basketball league. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made in high school. I had played JV basketball two years prior and found it took up too much time. I had a harder time in school because of it, and I didn’t enjoy the style of play. Basketball for me always has been more than a game. I was born legally blind in my right eye. Sports and basketball specifically always have been a place where I could defy the odds. I am proud of what I have accomplished and been able to do playing competitive sports. There couldn’t have been a better ending than team Lombardo/McGinn winning the rec chip in a villainous style.

Growing up I always tried to hide my hearing and eyesight disabilities. I didn’t want to be different and I would hide it from my coaches and resented my teachers mentioning it. I always hated being labeled as a disabled kid because it made me feel like I was less capable than others. The best part of my maturing is that I am finally prideful of what makes me unique. I look back and have pride that I was able to do the things I did under the circumstances life provided. What seemed like my biggest flaw growing up became my greatest asset.

As much as I want to give myself credit for accomplishing high school, I can’t honestly sit here and not give credit to those who’ve helped me along the way. I want to first start by thanking my family for everything they have provided me. I’m extremely grateful to have grown up in Westborough, and that is all because of my parents. Although Westborough is known as a bubble from “the real world”, I think this was a fantastic place for someone to grow up in. It is the type of place I hope to reside with my future family.

The friends and classmates we see on a daily basis have an astounding impact on our well-being. The little moments, the subtle jokes during class, conversations at break, and overall the presence of your school friends makes coming into this building every day worth it. I want to thank Danna for always making the day brighter, and for overall being an amazing person, I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.

Some teachers who had a big impact on me were without a doubt, Mrs. Stoker. There was never a point in this class where I felt like just another number. Mrs. Stoker truly sees the potential in each student. Journalism gave me a chance to try new ideas, put myself out there, and overall create some of the best memories with my friends.

This year I started a podcast called The-O, and I continued the legacy of Full Court Press. Journalism allowed me to use my team-based skills and put my creativity to use in school. I remember first hearing about the class and how you have to be on camera. I was terrified. Two years later the highlight of my days was going to co-host two shows viewed by hundreds of people.

Sitting in Mr. Cullen’s AP Psychology class each day taught me life lessons at a perfect time. Although I realized I wasn’t interested in psychology a week into the class, having a teacher that implemented teaching with real-life applications really influenced me, in a time when we are all so confused about our futures.

Mrs. Miller put confidence in my identity as a student. She always would tell me that I was a great student and fabulous writer in History ll. Having a teacher who sees your abilities and has the utmost confidence in you changes your perspective of yourself. I believe we need more educators, like Mrs. Miller, who remind us of what we do right rather than focusing on our flaws so extensively.

As my days at WHS quickly count down, I realized a big part of growing up and figuring out more about who I was, was being comfortable being uncomfortable. I challenged myself with course difficulty, took classes I believe to this day I had no place being in, joined clubs I wasn’t 100% sure about or even that I would be accepted into, and sought out new friendships. And most importantly, I challenged what I thought I could do versus what I was actually capable of. Something I learned about myself in high school is that I am not afraid to put myself in difficult positions, and I am not afraid of failure. Ultimately this comfortability being uncomfortable mindset helped me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

I continued to grow out of my awkward stages by doing things I was scared of. I was the DJ in my junior year of the spring dance and the largest homecoming festival in WHS history my senior year. Although my DJ career may be over, my confidence and everlasting memories aren’t.

Senior year is the year of “lasts.” Your last class, last conversation with a school friend, last sports game, last school dance, and it is time to say goodbye to our lives in Westborough and move on. For this I am glad, as much as I love this town there comes a point where life plateaus. It is scary to leave behind our lives here and go on our own path–but it is also exciting knowing the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s cliche but: truly cherish the moment. For me, I think I was too focused constantly on the future and college. I’m realizing now that our time as a kid comes and goes, there’s no rush to grow up.

I am very excited to attend Northeastern University next year. I’m up for a new experience. I definitely think it’ll be a change from Westborough, but that’s exactly what I wanted. I will be starting my first semester in Boston and my second semester in London next year, and back to the Boston campus for the remaining 3-4 years. I remember I was really happy when I first decided this university is where I want to go. I remember the second I stepped foot on campus for a tour instantly knowing, “This is the place I want to be.” Yet, when I shared my future plans with people in my circle, I received a lot of backlash. This was probably the most important lesson I learned. Other people’s opinions of you don’t matter. If you know something is in your best interest go for it and don’t look back. After all, high school is just a few chapters, and we are our own authors.