By: Jessica Rizzo
When I first walked into JCHS four years ago, I was insecure, shy, and felt trapped by the reputation I had that I was only “the smart girl” and that was all I thought I could ever be. I stayed very independent my freshman year, trying my best to live up to everyone’s high expectations of me. I worked extremely hard at my academics, but my social life outside of school grew weaker and weaker. Although joining Newspaper Club helped me to express myself, I still consistently felt like the odd one out wherever I went and that people could not see the real person I was inside beyond my intelligence.
My sophomore year, everything changed. I joined Key Club, which I can confidently say was the best decision I made in high school. Key Club inspired my passion for service, and introduced me to the upperclassmen who became my best friends. They saw me as an eager sophomore with a passion for helping others and as someone who was always
looking for a new adventure. During this time I also got my first big role in a musical: Enid Hoopes in “Legally Blonde.” After getting this role, I became more confident on stage and began interacting more with my cast, who have since become some of my best friends and biggest supporters. At the end of my sophomore year, I even had the privilege of attending the Grand National Speech and Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky to represent JCHS in this highly competitive public speaking competition.
Throughout my junior and senior year, I have realized that high school is cliquey, which is inevitable. However, my experiences in theatre and Key Club my sophomore year gave me the confidence to branch out for my last two years of high school. It has been through community theatre that I have made my closest friends. Since they don’t know me in a school setting, they see me for my theatrical talent, genuine personality, and big heart. If you told me my freshman year that by my senior year my best friend would be from Greenbrook, a 45 minute drive away, and I would have a whole friend group in Livingston, I would have thought you were crazy. However, that is what I have realized high school is all about- branching out, trying new things, and understanding that there is a world that exists outside of just Caldwell, although that can be hard to imagine at times.
In brief, I am very grateful for my time at James Caldwell High School. Before I entered this school, I did not know a single Latin word, but now I am translating Vergil’s Aeneid, and I did not realize that I would develop a love for biology after taking three different biology courses at JCHS. This high school has allowed me to see what people I want to surround myself with in college, and what people I don’t want to be around. I have learned what my true interests are: theatre, service, and writing. I cannot wait to attend college in the coming months where I can continue to branch out and find a whole new accepting community.