Lily Vaughan: Senior Testimonial

Lily Vaughan '23, Co-Editor

Sitting down to write my senior testimonial isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Reflecting on the last four years of my life is hard: 1. because I have a horrendous memory and 2. because most of my high school experience was disrupted by a pandemic. COVID had a negative impact on everyone; my grade specifically missed out on developmental years: socially. Personally, my attention span decreased drastically due to the pandemic, making academics more challenging, both of which continue to have an impact to this day.

However, aside from the pandemic, my high school experience still wasn’t what I anticipated it would be. I can say that Westborough High School was not as fun as the movies make high school seem; and although part of me believes that WHS is not my scene, I definitely did find my place and eventually surrounded myself with lifelong friends.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love the summer, and therefore have a pretty difficult time transitioning back to school in the fall every year. However, year by year the transition became a little easier, and I became a little happier in the winter. One of the biggest things that have helped me survive the school year is by surrounding myself with people that make me happy, and involving myself in things I enjoy; specifically, cross country and track, working at Uhlmans, and being a part of the Lobby-O.

Going into high school, I was a competitive dancer with no intention of getting involved with anything related to school other than doing my homework and showing up to class. My younger self would have never imagined me running 12 season of cross country and track in high school or writing for the school newspaper. With that being said, it did take quite some time for me to find my place and the things I liked to do.

I began running cross country my freshman year, never having run over one mile in my entire life. Running most definitely was not easy for me at first, but the cross country team atmosphere was supportive and positive, which made the painful sport worth it. Cross country is the place where I met Coach Glenn, one of my coaches, who quickly became an important person in my life. Freshman year cross country is also the place that I discovered my passion for running.

After cross country, I trained consistently and worked hard through the winter, which brought me to the indoor track season. Track is a different environment than cross country; there are many events to choose from, there’s a bigger team, and overall it’s a lot more competitive. I enjoyed the competitive atmosphere that indoor track brought, and it helped me improve as a runner tremendously. Track was coached by Coach Wilson, who I knew was going to be a good coach from the start, because of how invested he was in the runners and in the sport as a whole. Throughout my years running with Coach Wilson, I have learned a lot. One of the biggest things is that those who are willing to put in the work are rewarded with good results. I found myself to improve the most during track seasons because Coach Wilson believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

After my freshman year, the rest of my high school running career was hampered by injuries. It became more taxing to sit out with each new injury I got. I found myself in the smelly weight room on the elliptical for hours a week while my teammates were out on their runs. Having dealt with so many injuries, I became pretty accustomed to training without running, and discovered that my favorite way to cross train was on the Peloton, a hobby I continue to enjoy. Overall, having injuries gave me a lot of time to think and taught me not to take the ability to run for granted.

Cross country and track also provided me with a community of people who became some of my closest friends. My teammates and I worked hard together and pushed each other to be the best versions of ourselves, while having fun. Without my teammates and coaches endless encouragement, I wouldn’t be the runner I am today. I’d like to specifically thank my coaches: Coach Wilson, Coach Glenn, Coach Mash, and Coach Hop for doing anything to help me and support me. I would also like to thank my co-captains Paige and Nalika for being my biggest cheerleaders and always being there for me throughout it all.

Looking back, it’s crazy to think that something that was once so irrelevant to me became such an important part of my life.

Another aspect of high school for me was working; if you know me, you know that I am always at work. I began working at Uhlmans Ice Cream the summer before freshman year. I became a workaholic quickly because I love to make money and interact with people–which is exactly what Uhlmans is about. Starting at Uhlmans, I worked with many girls who were upperclassmen at WHS. Not only did they quickly become my friends, but they also served as role models, and gave great advice, especially about school. Whether it was after practice, or on the weekends, I found myself picking up and working just about any shift I could get because I enjoyed the work environment so much. Did I probably burn myself out or overwork myself sometimes? Yes. However, I definitely made many great memories, friends, and of course money at Uhlmans. Without work and my work friends, I definitely would not be able to survive each school year.

Another piece of my high school experience was being a part of The Lobby-O. I never enjoyed writing until my first journalism class that I took my sophomore year; when all it was was an elective to fill my schedule. Journalism became one of my favorite classes, because for the first time in my life I was writing without a strict promt and instead had the freedom to write about whatever I wanted to. Mrs. Stoker, my journalism teacher, taught the class in a way that I discovered was the most productive way for me to learn–in a “high interest and low stress enviornment.” With a class where I felt both heard and comfortable, I eventually was able to step out of my comfort zone and become a better writer and interviewer. Once a few of my articles were published on The Lobby-O, I was eager to continue writing.

My second year taking journalism, I started to take the class more seriously. I joined the Lobby-O Club, and was striving to make sure that everything that I was writing and publishing had some sort of meaning and intention. Holding myself to high expectations, as I always do, led to burn out and many writers blocks; however, Mrs. Stoker was always there for me and helped me realize that sometimes less is more. Journalism 2 also brought in broadcasts, which allowed me to shift my focus to something different. Broadcasts were more centered around group work and filming as opposed to writing articles. At first I wasn’t a fan of broadcasting because believe it or not, I don’t love being on camera, and I am also not the best with technology. Eventually, I grew to enjoy broadcast,s because they were more social than articles with group work, filming, and editing down at Westborough TV.

Overall, I’d say that journalism has been the most impactful course I have taken at WHS. Not only have my writing and editing skills improved, but through the many, many interviews I have organized, my communication skills and ability to form insightful questions have also been enhanced. Above all, I have grown as a person throughout my time in the journalism program with all thanks to Mrs. Stoker. I have become a lot more confident and have grown a stronger voice (not that I didn’t have one before).

I’d also say that I am a better member of the community as I pay more attention to the news and current events going on. Mrs. Stoker taught me the importance of “maxamizing the truth and minimizing harm”, when it comes to reporting news. Above all, Mrs. Stoker has also stressed the importance of taking time to check in with yourself and practice self care. Having a teacher in the school like Mrs. Stoker who I know I can turn to talk about anything is something that I am so grateful I had. I loved Mrs. Stoker so much that by senior year I had three periods a day with her!

Not only did Mrs. Stoker make her classes a safe environment, but she also helped foster a community of students who are respectful and supportive of each other. With that being said, I am so glad I was able to be a part of The Lobby-O and work with all of my classmates throughout the past few years. Every year we push each other to produce quality work, and we have fun doing it.

Throughout the past four years, my life has been very chaotic, busy, and filled with ups and downs. I am so lucky to have had such great friends by my side through it all. I wanted to thank Jaya, Ellie, and Eva for always being there for me, putting up with me, and making everything so fun. I also wanted to thank my parents for supporting me and being there to help me every step of the way.

In conclusion, once I was able to surround myself with what makes me happy, the feeling of going through the motions and trying to survive every school year eventually turned into me enjoying life; even in the winter. I encourage anyone reading this who may find themselves struggling to get through the school year to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, because sometimes you enjoy things that you’d never expect to. If there’s anything that I learned throughout high school, it’s that a positive mindset is everything, and that balance in life is key.