The Valadez View

Thank you, SHS


Before I walked the halls of SHS, I was scared. Scared of the students I might not get along with, the hallways to get lost in and the teachers who may not like me. To be frank, many of my 18 years on this earth have been plagued by that same sense of fear.

But after attending SHS for four years, I can confidently say that 75% of that fear has completely left me. And most of the credit for overcoming that is due to the people inside of these brick walls. I could not be more thankful for SHS for giving me the tools I needed to find myself and my voice.

To put it simply, there is absolutely no way I would be the person I am if it weren’t for the educators who wholeheartedly believed in me when I had lost sight of myself and my aspirations. More often than not, they knew what was better for me than I did as a growing young adult.

The first person who knew what I needed and pushed me outside of almost all of my comfort zones was The Journal’s adviser, Mike Klopfenstein. Without his journalism class and his advice, I wouldn’t have ever written this column. I wouldn’t have ever been brave enough to share my sometimes controversial opinions with hundreds of people.

Almost all the credit for teaching me to form my own opinions and educate myself goes to social studies teacher David Luers. He always tells me that he thought I hated him when I took his AP U.S. History class because I never smiled. I just sat and nodded. But I was still finding my voice and trying to work up the courage to share it.

And the person who gave me a safe place to finally share that voice when I was ready was English teacher Sam Hanley. Though I don’t love admitting this, Hanley is a genius of sorts. He presented material that picked my brain and made me feel welcome in a classroom of students that sometimes didn’t.

But the person who possibly picked my brain the most is English teacher Julie Breeden. This year alone, she has challenged my writing style, my critical reading skills and overall, has set me on a path to success as I head off to major in English. And she’s just cool in her own right, though she’d argue that a better word could go there.

The way all of these people and so many more have invested their time in my growth and truly impacted my character is something I will never let go of. The educators at SHS didn’t just give me what I needed to pass a class. They gave me the tools I needed to challenge myself, to grow, to speak up and to just be me.

Four years ago, I never saw myself being the person I am now. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I value myself enough to not let people talk or walk all over me. And I speak up for what I believe in (probably to an annoying extent).

There’s that saying that says it takes a village to raise a child. Although SHS didn’t potty train me or teach me 2+2, it did raise me to be an open-minded, independent thinker. And I can honestly say I could not have asked for more.