Spring

Each year, spring seems to be the most overwhelming season. School begins to speed up as we are faced with tasks each day.

Now that the pandemic is slowly returning to normalcy as more students come onto campus, we are catching up on what we missed. This, however, results in the cramming of a years’ worth of experience into a single month. It is enjoyable in its little moments, though when I look at my planner, the words begin to blend into each other as the pages are smeared with hastily placed pencil marks. I return to my planner hourly, adding both academic assignments and extracurricular events. It is covered with reminders, such as bring my costume for the musical, or drop off a scholarship application.

I enjoy each day thoroughly, though looking ahead can be overwhelming. The tasks for one day are manageable, though skimming the multiple notes and plans for the week can feel as though it all must be done that day.

Perspective is vital to managing a planner. I always note that I am living in only one of the days on the page, and it is not yet time to manage the others. This spring may be busy, though it is my last opportunity to experience high school. I plan to enjoy every day, as they are my final moments on this campus.

Spring
Image Credit: Alina Demidenko – iStock

Journalism

Journalism can be strange. It is a new way of facilitating my love for writing, yet with emphasis on the most important element – storytelling. Instead of researching my topics online, I now must go into the world and obtain information from people.

The reactions differ – some are more than happy to tell their story. Others, however, remain reserved as you push your way into their schedule. I enjoy the social element of journalism. I have an intriguing conversation with at least one person per week.

Journalism has taught me how to reach out to people, even if you don’t know them. I understand the format of an interview request email, and how to conduct a conversation where I get the other person to say all the right things. In journalism, I am but the message man, bringing other people’s stories into the limelight. I have enjoyed this experience as it has shifted me away from academic writing, improved my social skills, and made me a better storyteller.

Image Credit: Nicole Schuman

Reams Full Of Dreams

It really just begins as a question:

Who do you want to be?

There’s no answer yet,

just confusing clues,

and time.

At some point the rough outline, the shadow, the future is visible: 

now just a gossamer dream, 

but focusing with time, condensing…

I pour myself into the process.

I’m buying what they’re selling,

buying a future,

buying a me.

They’re selling dreams, outlines, frames for faces,

65 bucks a pop!

Expensive. But this boardwalk is a long one.

I pick places.

Leaves?

Seasons?

Words etched in stone?

Wood?

Steel?

All the while working, working.

Pressure to be better,

be happy,

be me,

pressure to do more,

to be more,

and all the while working. Guilty

because I know I could work harder,

and be happier.

Do more.

I could cover more ground,

jump through more gilded hoops,

be better,

do more,

be me-er.

Ideas stuck on frail words

clamouring to speak out

above the clamor.

Distilling self

into neat columns,

busy with intricacy.

From a fermenting mess:

fine spirit.

Then I wait,

as a man in Massachusetts thumbs through reams of dreams.

from istock.com

A Page of Four Years

February has brought about the time to create senior pages. I have spent time scrolling through my camera roll, searching for the perfect photos that can encapsulate four years of high school into a single 8″x10″ page.

I found photos of my friends. Photos of projects I had done in art class. Photos I had taken for AP World History projects. Sifting through hundreds of memories to find the most valuable moments has proven to be more difficult than I had thought. I have narrowed it down to about forty photographs, which, if I were to use them all, would be about a centimeter wide each.

While small on paper, many memories still remain as vivid as the day I experienced them. I remember carving pumpkins at my freshman Halloween dance. Is that memory less valuable than the time I hung my art in an exhibit? Do I feature friends, experiences, or accomplishments? What photograph will take up the most space?

As I sift through the photos, I imagine what words will be written on a page. I could write a classic senior quote, a thank you to those who helped me through school, or simply my name in a basic font.

I know my senior page will encapsulate my high school experience as I remember it. I just need to find what moment will serve as the biggest picture.

Yearbook
Image Credit: Josten’s Memory Book

Middle School

The feeling that you are getting older is daunting. It’s full of ups and downs, happy memories as well as sad times.

Photo credit: Ojai Valley School

It starts in sixth grade, but some schools say sixth is part of elementary school. That first day is hard for everyone because it consists of meeting new teachers, traveling to different classes, making new friends.

Then comes seventh grade comes around- you are getting older, having more challenging classes, and forming friend groups. Seventh graders obtain freedom, but the teachers expect more from them.

Then the last year of Middle comes around: Eighth grade. These students are the top dogs of the middle school campus. They have survived everything from petty middle school drama to hard in-class essays.

Middle school is a period to figure yourself out. You are trying different electives and sports, figuring out your niche.

Middle schools prepare kids for their futures and the rest of their academic life.

The feeling that you are getting older, its daunting.

It’s full of ups and downs, happy memories as well as sad times.

It starts in sixth grade, some schools say sixth is part of elementary school.

That first day is hard. Meeting new teachers, traveling to different classes, making new friends.

Lonely in your own home

I moved to boarding school in America 3 years ago. Since then my life has changed completely. I feel like a different person. A better person. I grew up in the south of Germany. Beautiful mountains, living in the heart of the Black Forest. I always loved where I lived. But school in Germany can get tough, especially being in a Gymnasium. Ninth grade is said to be the hardest one of all. Everything comes together and just pushes you down. I felt stressed, anxious, and just not good enough. I had no motivation left because no matter how much work I put in I felt like it was never enough.

When I arrived in America it all changed. I finally felt truly happy again. The people were supportive and just so incredibly nice. It was so different, so… amazing. I finally was able to show what I was able to do, I didn’t feel hopeless or pressured anymore. The teachers were supportive and always helping. I immediately felt at home. The outdoor education trips were incredible, the people were incredible, everything was just perfect for me. This school has made me into a happier version of myself. It helped me discover what I am good at and what I want to do in the future.

And now this is my last year here. I can’t believe how fast time flies. This school will forever have a place in my heart, and I am truly thankful for it, for making me into the person I am today.

The classic dichotomy of senior year

Mural

Right now I am planning for a mural I will be painting on former OVS teacher, Ms. Pasqua’s house. She has inspired me to paint a scene of Ojai with the Topa Topa mountains lined with inspirational quotes. This mural is an outlet for me to express my passion in the fight for equity.

The Ojai Valley has given me so many opportunities to improve myself as an artist, and painting a mural visible to its residents is my way of giving back to the community. I have had practice with this form of art in middle school when we worked on large-scale projects. I helped to work on the Fourth of July parade floats as well as life-size paper mache projects. I painted giant decorations to add to our OVS float, and created letter-signs that spelled out the name of our school.

Growing up and seeing the beautiful murals in Ventura County, I have always wanted to add my own color to the town. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to gain more experience with painting and share my art with the Ojai community.

The Ventura Mural that inspired me to paint on a larger scale.
Image Credit: Lu Ross Academy

Starting Small

I have begun selling jewelry to share my hobby with others. It was an arduous process, first creating unique designs, then waiting until the perfect moment in the day where the sun could accent my photographs. I propped my jewelry up against white satin and took four photos of each piece.

Now that I had the photographs, I had to list the jewelry and create titles for each one. My jewelry ranges from sleek, dainty earrings to pearl necklaces with crystal accents. I adjusted the price adequately for each listing, and my shop was up and running.

I created an Instagram account for my shop, @jewels.by.jocy, and now post not only the collection itself, but tips on styling and sneak peaks at new jewelry designs.

For a while I had no sales, though when I began to advertise online, I had received two orders. Now came the many ideas for packaging.

I invested in prettier packing supplies than the ones I had in my desk, and now my jewelry comes propped on custom cards, tucked neatly into a white lace bag with extra floral stickers, and packed away into a bubble mailer with pink crinkle cut paper. I seal it off with a golden sticker before driving it to the post office, ready to find its new home.

Shop my jewelry on Depop @jocyvgonz ❤

Handmade Golden Earrings ❤

My Journal

I realize I’ve forgotten about my daily planner. It’s been sitting in my desk for the past couple of weeks, leaving me to keep track of all my assignments in my head. Without it, academics have felt like one big game of whack-a-mole. I’ve been barely holding on, about to turn the lights out for the night before I realize an assignment is due tomorrow.

It can feel annoying writing every assignment down as its given. However, without an organized book to keep track of my assignments, I have felt like I’ve tuned out of academics.

Today I wrote down everything I needed to do. It’s not too much when you look at it on paper. When it’s all in your head, however, it can feel overwhelming. Just when you think you’ve cleared your agenda, another task appears. When I write down my assignments or meetings, however, I can accomplish things in a more mentally civilised way.

It is important for me to not let my own head be in charge of keeping track of things. Not everyone works the same way, but for me, writing down my responsibilities is the best way to get them done, and erasing them is very rewarding.

Image Credit:  LEUCHTTURM

Dawn patrol

This week I went surfing at 5 am for the very first time. I got up at 4.30 am and got ready. I got dressed, grabbed the wetsuit, grabbed my bag and waited for the van to pick me up. It was freezing outside but I was so incredibly excited. I always wanted to go to the beach before the sunrise and swim and surf while watching the sun rise. As soon as we arrived at the beach we put our wetsuits on, grabbed our boards and headed to the beach.

I was barefoot and we had to walk a little distance to the beach on concrete and my feet were completely frozen and in pain from walking on the hard and sharp concrete. I finally stepped on sand and immediately ran towards the water. I stayed in the more shallow spot first to just practice a bit before my teacher called me over to try some bigger waves.

After many failed attempts I finally managed to stand up for just a second before I fell but it was still amazing. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and there were many seals just swimming around us. One of them popped its head up right next to me and looked at me curiously before it dove back down.

It was my first time being at the beach before sunrise and it was a long dream of mine that I was finally able to fulfill.

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