Extending

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by Jessie Wang, senior writing coach

I just finished my last day of high school classes (believe me, it feels surreal). As I leave, I’d like to finish with a few thoughts.

Senior year, without a doubt, has been a whirlwind. For me, it seems like there’s still a month of school left — yet my last days have approached a bit too quickly.

I’ve been relatively apprehensive about leaving high school. Generally, I’m just of the nervous type — a whole new life in a whole new place sounds quite scary to me. I’ve been at Minnetonka my entire life, and I’ve found a community in orchestra, research, the Writing Center, and much more. It’s a bit hard to imagine myself without this.

Because this has been pretty good to me. I’ve taken engaging classes and had uniquely amazing teachers. I’m a lover of banana bread and Cove granola bars. I’ve found activities that are meaningful to me, and I’ve met friends who continually support me, and whose abilities amaze me. Goodbyes are a little too much, and a little too early.

I don’t really know what it’ll be like without seeing those same asymmetrical tiles on the walls of the Arts Center or the trees in the Commons. I don’t know what it’ll be like to not bring my violin to school every day, or to not see Tonka pride everywhere. Different will be hard for me.

But I’ll give the future the benefit of the doubt for once. What I am sure of is that my time at Minnetonka will act as a tailwind into college. The incredible teachers, activities, and people of Minnetonka will surely stay with me, and will help in propelling me forward. My friends have shown me such kindness, and my teachers have shown me dedication and passion for what they do. Minnetonka has been quite the inspiration.

For this, I’m lucky. I get to pass on that same sense of inspiration when I start over in the fall. I’ll be going out into the world and beginning to spread my Minnetonka-ness to others. I’ll be passing on the strong student voice that Minnetonka has, the enthusiasm for activities, the school spirit, and the sense of community that thrives everywhere. I get to go out and be passionate and make what I can with everything that Minnetonka has given me. And hopefully along the way, I’ll rub off some Minnetonka onto others.

We all get to do that as the class of 2017, and every class following does as well. As I move forward, I’m keeping Minnetonka with me and reminding myself that I’m not leaving, just extending.

Thank you, Minnetonka. Truly, thank you.

A Grateful Goodbye

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MHS seniors waiting to sign-up for Senior Serve

by Alanna Anglum, senior writing coach

My final post on this blog is incidentally the perfect wrap up. I’m a senior coach whose time here at Minnetonka is coming to an end. I write this at 5:30am, as I sit on the “iconic” speckled floor of Minnetonka High School with hundreds of fellow classmates. Needless to say, I’m TIRED, and I clearly procrastinated–even my last task as a writing coach was semi-behind the 8 ball. It’s a legacy (I think). So what am I doing here? What would possibly compel hundreds of seniors to drag themselves out of bed, camp outside, huddle on the concrete floor of the school we often loath, and still be willing to face the whole day to come after? On paper, we are doing it to score the best volunteer project (which frankly on its own is an impressive feat). I can safely tell you though, I didn’t do this for the chance to volunteer. I didn’t do this because I was “afraid of missing out” on some shenanigans. 

We’re here because that’s what we do. 

We show up. There will always be drama. There will always be a test. There will be work or other less exciting obligations. There will always be plenty of reasons to get a good night’s sleep. 

I’m just now starting to appreciate the reasons to stay up late and get up early, sadly a little too late. Any Junior will tell you they too have figured this out, but that’s not true. They do it because they have to; we seniors are here because we want to. 

I know some would be reluctant to admit it, but there’s a lot of love in these hallways. I mean genuine love. Personally as I reflect, I own up to the fact that I’ve been somewhat of a lonely Minnetonka student. I love my classmates more than I can express at 5:30 am, but I get back a different kind of love. A lifelong best friend is not something I’ll leave Minnetonka with. There is no one that pulled me out of bed this morning and told me, “Alanna, you HAVE to come with us!” I showed up by myself. But more often than not, the things you do aren’t really about you, and there won’t be someone dragging you out of bed. Maybe this is where the volunteer aspect of our “Senior Serve” camp-out comes into play. Again, the things you do aren’t about you, but they’re about how they make you feel. 

As Minnetonka, I didn’t find a lifelong BFF but I found a community. I found a sense of urgency in showing up.

You can barely hope to scrape the surface of our deepest gratitude as outbound seniors. The greatest gift of all our clubs, classes, friends, and teachers have given us is this sense of power in our presence. We don’t recognize the fact that we have it yet, this gift of active passion, but the amazing thing is that we will be able to pass it on. Minnetonka, you’ve stirred something in all of us. For that, me and my future self thank you.

The seniors are turning from giddy to crabby as we speak. The initial novelty is wearing off. But as you walk down the halls in mere hours, the buzzing conversation will circle around the seniors that DID show up. They’ll forget the sticky floor, the ungodly 5 am hour, and the sight of exhausted faces. They’ll be talking about this and all other Minnetonka events with the perspective of accomplishment in showing up and participating. 

Thank you for showing us the value in ourselves. Even if we don’t completely understand it yet, you got me out of bed at 4:45 this morning. 

today’s the day

By Brynne Erb, Carleton College (‘19) and Charlotte Knopp, Mount Holyoke College (‘19)

Today is graduation. In a couple of months, we’ll be stepping onto new campuses and into new writing centers. But today, we are reflecting on our years at Minnetonka––and we want to thank the Writing Center, which has been a huge part of our high school experience. From the elation that accompanied the acceptance email signifying the start of our Writing Coach careers back in ninth grade to our anxiety-racked first training at the District Service Center to this year’s pilot “Writing Center Seminar” to the IWCA Florida trip, the Writing Center has filled our high school years with growth, learning, friendship, and writing. Ms. Shea and Ms. Bunte cultivated a community of learners, leaders, and readers. We joined other bookish teens and our fondness for each other grew. We became a community that was an outlet for our pent up love of reading and writing. We feel so lucky to have been a part of this group, truly a family at Minnetonka, and are grateful for all the opportunities and learning we have been given by the Writing Center.

(left to right) Charlotte, Ms. Shea, and Brynne at the Writing Center's Year-End Breakfast

(left to right) Charlotte, Ms. Shea, and Brynne at the Writing Center’s year-end breakfast

Keeping with the spirit of this blog as a writing resource, here’s our last little tidbit of advice: read. Read broadly and read well. Read in the car, in the line waiting for coffee, in your bed before you sleep. Read at times you’d usually pull out your phone and putz around. Read thoughtfully, carefully, wholly, experimentally, excitedly.  Good writers are good readers, and good readers are good people. Spend your summer exploring worlds other than your own. Learn, experience, live vicariously. You will learn that in losing yourself in the stories of others, you find yourself.  Spend this summer relaxing and learning and basking in literature. You’ll be surprised by how much your writing improves come the fall.

Charlotte on a book-buying-binge yesterday

Charlotte on a book-buying-binge yesterday

Brynne with her beloved Jane Eyre. PC: MJFotography

Brynne with her beloved Jane Eyre. Photo credit:  MJFotography

And finally, before we go, we’d like to welcome our new blog editors: Sam Zattera (senior), Elise Johnson (junior), and Anna Barnard (junior). We’re confident they’ll take good care of our baby blog, and we’re excited to keep reading it!