By Owen Wolfson ’18
About a month and a half ago, I was on a PSPA panel. One of the questions asked was focused on how to further integrate students into the community, and how to make them feel fully included in Pingry life. After Mr. Conard listed off community events that aimed to bring everyone together, he passed the question off to me in order to gain a student’s perspective. The first phrase that jumped into my head was something everyone has probably heard during their college process: “It is what you make of it.”
I had heard this from college counselors, teachers, peers, parents, and just about anyone else who has been involved in my life, and it allowed me to see that whatever college I chose, my experience is truly what I decide it will be. However, I had never really thought of it in the context of my time at Pingry. When this jumped into my head during the panel, I dismissed it at first, only to come back to it and realize its truth.
That truth is that Pingry is a special place, and I think we, hopefully, all see that. But Pingry can only be so special on its own; it evolves into amazing when every opportunity and resource is taken advantage of, like when a genius math student takes the leap into photography and a star lacrosse player joins the Buttondowns.
Personally, I realize that a lot of my defining experiences here have been so important to me because I have taken that leap and have embraced Pingry in all its specialness. One of my greatest experiences, my time on the soccer team, would not have happened without that leap into the unknown. While high school soccer may have been a natural progression for me, I can look at some of my fellow senior teammates and know that without the perfect combination of ambition and blind faith, high school would have been a completely different experience for them. I can look at the field hockey seniors, the drama cast, or the Photo classes, and see the same lesson mirrored throughout all these vastly different groups. Every single one of these people’s lives would have been different had it not been for some sort of step they took. They embraced the uniqueness and greatness of Pingry and allowed it to create a life-long, life-changing experience for them.
The cheesiness of what I just said was perfect for that stage and that panel, but some of you might be scoffing and thinking, “Tell me something I don’t know.” To that I would say, I hope you don’t know all of this already. I hope you aren’t reading this and already looking at the title of the next reflection because you already know exactly what I am talking about. I say this because if you know all of this already, then you are done with high school. I truly hope the only people that can empathize with these things are my fellow seniors, because if you aren’t a member of the Class of 2018 and you think you already know what I am talking about, then you are both wrong and doing something wrong.
If you are able to see all of this without having even entered your senior year yet, then I contest that you have failed at living by what I said above: you have not truly made Pingry all that it can be for you. I feel I can say this with confidence because the only reason I realize all these things is because my time at Pingry is now over. Now that my time as a proud Pingry School lifer has come to a close, I feel as if I have gained an understanding of the true power of being a Pingry graduate, and I know that for those who don’t see it now, they will see it five years down the road, when they are trying to get a job and their Pingry diploma is what gets them an interview. Or ten years down the road when they are wearing a Pingry hat in some exotic place and they meet a fellow alum. I know Pingry has provided me with a solid foundation for a great future, but I also know that I will treasure Pingry much more for the invaluable experiences and memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. All of these thoughts have come in reflection, and the weight of them has only truly struck me because I am now able to look back at Pingry, and not around at Pingry. That is one of many things that makes saying goodbye so sad—that my fullest and deepest gratitude and appreciation for this school has only come in hindsight.
Lastly, to the Class of 2018, I would just like to say thank you. Whether you know it or not, you have done more for me than I could ever tell you, and so much more than I could ever thank you for. I know you are all going to amazing things in your life. I could say a lot more in this time, but since I started this reflection talking about greatness and passion, I figure why not close on the same theme. I have always loved this Pat Tillman quote, and feel that it perfectly encapsulates my, and Pat Tillman’s, message for the future: “Passion makes life interesting, ignites our soul, fuels our love, carries our friendship, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits.”