photo by Evan Riley

Parting Words ’23

Final thoughts from the 2022-23 seniors on The Uproar

June 2, 2023

McKenna Flannagan

High school is a time of transition, development, and learning. It’s a moment to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life. You’ll make new friends, interact with new people, and gain new knowledge. You will understand the people you wish to surround yourself by and those you don’t.

Academic and personal obstacles are common during high school, so perseverance is key. You’ll be required to exercise greater accountability and exert greater effort than ever before. Do not get caught up in the little things that seem so big at the time. Instead, take a step back and look at the big picture. This is only four years of your life, and you are still very young.

High school is an exciting and joyful period. The chance to engage in clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities will be available to you and you should always take them when prompted. You’ll create moments that you’ll cherish forever.

For me, by the end of high school, I am ready for the next chapter in my life, to continue on and further my independence and sense of self.

Kate Gilliland

After four years of high school, there are three key things that I have learned:

1. Get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it is nice to have a consistent routine, but that gets boring after a while. There are so many different activities to join and events to go to at NASH, so get a group of friends and try one out. It might be the highlight of your day or your year.

2. Just be kind. I know that’s kind of a motto here at NA, but it is really true. It’s so much easier to be kind than to be mean. If someone politely asks you to help them with a math problem or proofread their research paper’s conclusion paragraph, do it. It doesn’t hurt to help out the person next to you.

3. Ask for help. Whether that be from a friend, teacher, or parent, just ask. The teachers here at NASH are some of the best and kindest educators I’ve had. Asking a simple question to understand a concept can be the difference between an A and a B on a test. Ask your friends for help. They are going through the same things you are and might be able to help you.

Thank you, NASH, for the good memories and friends. And thanks to everyone who read The Uproar!

Camryn Gray

High school came with many highs and lows, but I know all of it will prepare me for my future. I learned a lot about myself and the world around me during my time in high school.

I still do not feel as if I am a senior, so writing a goodbye to The Uproar feels strange. I recall sitting in my counselor’s office towards the end of freshman year, deciding my electives for the following year. I picked journalism on a whim, not knowing what it would entail. This decision was one of the best I made throughout my high school career. It led me to meet new people, make new friends, become a better writer, and discover my passions and share them with the world. While I had always been told I was creative, I truly saw this side of me when I would write articles. I got the opportunity to write what I was passionate about and share it with the world.

Journalism inspired me to pick a major that would allow me to continue my creativity. Despite my love for writing, I chose to not pick journalism as my major, as I had always felt that I belonged in the business world due to my competitive nature. I chose marketing as my major since it is essentially the creative side of the business world. I will be able to express my creativity, problem solve, and maintain the competitive spirit that I developed during my years as a dancer.

I will spend next year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a marketing major with the world at my feet. I am grateful for all I have learned throughout my years at North Allegheny and hope to apply it to my future endeavors.

Libby Heckert

Going into senior year, I had one thing on the front of my mind — just say yes. Sitting in the auditorium on the first week of senior year, Dr. Dirda said to us, “Enjoy every last second of high school because before you know it you will be walking across the commencement stage.” I decided at that moment that I was going to take advantage of every single opportunity that presented itself to me in the next year and just say yes.

In the summer before the school year started, I was presented with the opportunity of being the NA Dance Team captain for the second year in a row, and I said yes without overthinking it. That decision ended up being one of the best of my senior year. I learned new leadership skills and made memories that will last a lifetime. Just say yes.

In the fall, Mr. Schmiech, the musical director, asked me if I was going to try out for the spring musical. I didn’t really put any thought into trying out, but I knew what I was going to say to that opportunity, Yes! Joining the spring musical had to be the highlight of my whole high school experience. I found a group of people who are so welcoming and accepting of everyone. It was amazing to finally have a group of individuals who were passionate about the same thing and wanted to put in the work for an outstanding outcome. Just say yes.

During the height of sports season, one of the NA varsity soccer players asked me to make a video for the team. I had never made a video for any sports before. I said yes. By taking that opportunity, I found something that I want to continue in my future. This opened my eyes to the world of sports journalism and made me want to continue it in the future. Just say yes.

If I would have not taken a risk and said “yes” to all of those opportunities I would not have made lifelong memories, found my best friends, or found new passions.

Just say yes.

Manas Kathir

When I, along with my former Franklin Elementary School classmates, entered the new Franklin building during the “Walk Back In Time,” the one thing that struck to me was how much it changed. The school was immensely larger, there was a larger population of kids, and the playground was extended.

However, even though that was easy to notice, the most surprising part of the day was our fifth grade letters. Shockingly, I feel like my handwriting back then was prettier than what it is now. But the one thing that confused me the most was the line “I hope I get a scholarship in a computer engineering program.”

What made this so comical to me is the fact that I absolutely despise anything related to computer engineering now, and that just shows us how much our viewpoints can change throughout the years. It also shows how much an organization like The Uproar can impact your interests and make you explore different venues in life. Because of my experience with the school newspaper along with the change of my interests, I have decided to major in Communications at Syracuse University. I hope to become an American TV personality on ESPN one day, just like Stephen A. Smith.

It’s crazy how much Franklin Elementary School has changed over the years, but it is sort of like my switch from future engineer to future journalist. It kind of shows how far we have come and how much we have grown. Whatever journey you go on next, make sure to always enjoy and embrace the changes in life, just like I did throughout my 12 years at North Allegheny.

Kat Klinefelter

The random elective I took after a scheduling conflict was never supposed to consume my life. However, I am glad that it did.

I now leave North Allegheny having been the editor of two different NA publications, producing more videos than I can count, and taking even more photos.

I never saw myself as one of those people who would point to something and say, “That thing, that’s mine. I made that”. Now, I have a hyperlink that does that for me.

My favorite movie is about people who have always felt that way, too. They weren’t the loudest people or the most outgoing people, but they still had something to say.

I’ve always tried to envision my life as a movie because then, hopefully, I’d get the same happy ending as those characters. I’ve spent so much time wishing to feel like the fictitious characters that I cling to that I didn’t even realize that I had let almost four years of high school go by trying to chase a feeling that wasn’t real. Life isn’t like the movies. Sometimes you will feel like you don’t belong. You’ll spend all night wondering if your friends will still be your friends after you’re gone. You’ll wonder if you said something wrong.

You’ll wonder about all these things, but in the end, they won’t really matter if you begin to live in the now. Stop wasting time trying to find the perfect feeling because you’ll end up missing it if you keep focusing on what comes next.

This has been the best year of my life because I stopped wasting my time searching for moments that could only be scripted. I could sum everything up, but I think I’ll just let someone else do that. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”- Ferris Bueller.

Andrew McLaughlin

Six years ago, I submitted an article to the student newspaper at Carson Middle School. Fittingly, that first piece was an ambling retrospective of Walt Disney’s original plan for EPCOT. However, my teacher still enjoyed the article.

A few years later, I was in charge of distributing The Carson Chronicle, using a squeaky pushcart to deliver copies before school began. I started to find better footing in ninth grade, but my stories remained wordy and exceedingly dense, not a good trait for a journalist. But even so, I was beginning to discover my passions with stories such as a 2,000-word essay titled “History Right in Our Backyard.” (Admittedly, my final Uproar article was just as long and on a topic that is similarly niche, but I digress…)

When I joined the staff of The Uproar, I continued to hone my writing both as a journalist and as a historian. The best aspect of high school journalism is that it allows you to write about what you care about, important at a time when everyone is still discovering their passions in life. While I have covered news stories like a typical journalist, I have always returned to my documentary-style articles, taking my readers on kind of a never-ending western Pennsylvania road trip laced with touches of nostalgia. Even when I deviated to other topics, such as in my article on the race for Pennsylvania senator, my enthusiasm for the historic places of western Pennsylvania still shone through; it’s the trademark component of my writing.

Of everything in high school, I will miss journalism and orchestra most of all. Thanks to these classes, I have been granted an escape from the rest of the school day, but more importantly, I have also learned more about who I am as a person.

North Allegheny students, we are clear for dispatch. Have a great ride!

Faith Miller

She told us on the second day of school that we would blink and it would be June 2nd. I didn’t believe her, but Dr. Dirda couldn’t have been more right.

North Allegheny gave me countless opportunities to reach my goals and to build upon my interests. I couldn’t be more grateful for my time here. It all made me into a better person, from expanding my skills in journalism, writing, photography, and more to finding my best friends and building relationships.

This was my first year taking journalism, and to put it lightly it was one of the best things I have ever done. The class brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to find my passion for writing. I also got the opportunity to build up a portfolio that will help me in the future.

Next year, I will be attending Point Park University and majoring in Sports Communications. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in sports in one way or another. After a significant injury, I knew that I wasn’t going to be playing sports. I started reading everything about NFL football and sports in general. From studying drafts, watching film, listening to interviews, and diving into that whole world, I finally found what I loved. I’m so thrilled to be living my dream next year and hopefully getting a gig with a Pittsburgh team in the near future.

I’m so grateful for the good years at NA, but now it’s on to the next chapter for me.

Sierra O’Neil

I have been attending North Allegheny since preschool. That’s 13 years of my life tied to four different buildings and one goal: graduating. Roughly 5,009 days were spent leading up to walking across a huge stage on a field I’d barely seen. I may now be able to fit into the gown and hold my head high enough to balance the cap, but a small part of me still relies on the girl who wore princess gowns or had no idea the significance of having a “North Allegheny ‘23” in her bio.

I must have downloaded Instagram in elementary school after begging my mom for months. My original username was Purplepepsi7. I know, embarrassing. In my time browsing, I hearted images of puppies and lip balm and nearly gave out my mom’s credit card with the hopes of winning a makeup giveaway. Over my years of liking, following, and reposting, Instagram and I have both changed. For Instagram, it was their logo, but for me, it wasn’t the people I followed, what I posted, or my cringe username — it was being able to find myself. My time on Instagram is merely a metaphor for growth.

In my 13 years, I’ve shed enough tears to fill a large bucket, but all the laughs and friendships have made the time not just unforgettable — they define the person I am today. These last four years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and while I wish I could rewind and relive some moments, nothing is better than the present, and I know the future holds so much more. So, even as I prepare to remove the “North Allegheny ‘23” from my bio, I can only say one thing, “Thank you.”

Miller Orris

My time in high school at North Allegheny has been both fulfilling and turbulent.

Throughout these four years, I’ve been online for one and a half of them, met multiple teachers who have made lasting impressions on my life, and formed bonds with friends that have each helped me grow in immeasurable ways. Part of me wishes my time at NAI wasn’t taken from me so quickly due to the pandemic, and another part treasures those countless times my friend Ian and I would set off on our bikes immediately after wrapping up NACA.

Going back to school in person was an adjustment, but seeing my friends and remembering what it was like to have working relationships with teachers made it easier. Now, I look back and I’m happy that I stuck to it, and I know how valuable the in-person experience is. I wouldn’t trade my unique high school experience for a normal one if I could, and I’m thankful for my time at NA.

Aris Pastor

This year, I’ve grown obsessed with time. There’s something the poet Richard Siken wrote once: “We are all going forward. None of us are going back.” Time reaches invariably forward, and as we are limited by our humanity, we have no choice but to move in the same direction. There is something captivating to the idea of tragedy, of inevitability built just outside of human consciousness, being simultaneously stuck and unstuck in time, yet never able to manipulate it. Never able to change it. It can feel easier, almost, to think of yourself in those terms.

And yet, if I have learned anything from my time at NASH, from the friends I’ve made and lost, from the district I’ve lived in my entire life, it’s this: joy is a process, not an achievement. I spent the entirety of junior year under massive amounts of academic pressure and stress, but I made some of my best friends that year, people who have redefined the way I see my life. So maybe there is no changing the past, and maybe we are all springs set to snap in some grand tragedy, so maybe there is failure and loss and pain in this story, but the sun has been glowing orange at my bus stop every morning. There are plants by my window that have been green for months. Every week, I walk half a mile to drink tea with my best friend.

During freshman year, I thought a life was something you get after all the prizes, after maintaining a 4.0 GPA, after taking 20 AP classes and getting a 5 in all of them. Good grades, good college, good job, good life. And maybe there is happiness in achievement, at least in the moment, but that is not a life. A life is mundane and imperfect, full of stumbling blocks and 25-minute bus rides and walking in the mud just so you can eat out with friends.

And a life is still beautiful, because it’s full of people you love and moments that feel like movie scenes and spaces you’ll grow into. It’s a process. The trick is to learn to love it.

Shuban Tiwari

It still hasn’t hit yet. I’m sure it will eventually, but for the time being, I still feel like a freshman. A kid who’s just trying to have fun while figuring out how the world works. I’m sure the pandemic has something to do with that, and that’s okay. I made it out, and I’m alive–that’s what matters.

For anyone reading this, I only have one thing to say to you: live. I don’t mean that lightly. I mean go out, go have fun with your friends, go live in the fresh air, and go experience things.

High school is transformative. The knowledge you’ll gain, the ways you’ll learn to think, and the maturity you’ll gain are nothing like you’ve ever experienced. But still, I think the biggest takeaway from high school wasn’t what I learned, but what I felt. Don’t be afraid to feel. Accept and grow with your emotions. Pain is just as valuable an emotion as is pleasure.

Learn something in high school, but also, don’t be afraid to feel.

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