Class of 2022 seniors reflect on high school experiences


Pathfinder Editorial Board

A graphic of the 2021-22 senior staff for the Pathfinder.

It’s safe to say our high school experience was like no other. We lived through a pandemic, political chaos and national racial movements. Amid these times, we were lucky enough to have a semblance of a normal high school experience: pep rallies, homecoming and eventually prom. Though the pandemic took away a portion of our high school experience, we would argue that this made us even more grateful for the memories that we were able to make. We learned many important lessons throughout our high school experiences, both in school and in journalism specifically, so the Class of 2022 seniors reflected on our high school experiences before we graduate. 

Mira Nalbandian, Managing Editor-in-Chief

The transition to high school wasn’t a truly big leap for me. It always felt like the natural progression of what my last eight years of school had been. What I didn’t know is that I would change much more in those four years than I had all through elementary and middle school. As I look back on my time in high school, it certainly wasn’t conventional, but it never felt strange to me. Our class took everything as it came, and I can’t really imagine my time here any other way.

Out of all of the opportunities I had in high school, my time at the Pathfinder was by far the best. I never really wanted to join in the first place, but I was shocked by what I discovered. If you haven’t realized it by now, the students here dedicate themselves and their time to ensuring this publication represents our thoughts, opinions and feelings. Above all else, we wanted to tell the stories of our community and the amazing people at West and beyond.

I can already tell that my next steps will not be as smooth as they were in the past. But if I’ve learned anything from my time at West, it’s that your life isn’t going to go like you want it. You can make every decision you think is right and realize you were completely misguided. I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who have understood my mistakes. As excited as I am for what comes next, I’ll miss these people and this place. Leaving is never easy, especially when you’ve had such a good hometown. 

Leah Schroeder, Managing Editor-in-Chief

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been four years since I started high school and walked into room 3000; I know it’s cliche, but it really does go by fast. I fully expected to learn about writing and editing stories in this class, but I never would have expected all of the other lessons that I learned. 

I can attribute the majority of my growth over the past four years to this program. Because of Journalism, I’ve grown to be so much better at trying new things, connecting with people and voicing my opinions. I’ve learned that regardless of how carefully you plan the future, it won’t turn out exactly how you expect it to, just like a story that goes in an entirely different direction than you planned. Most importantly, I’ve come to even further understand the importance of being compassionate to others. 

I still haven’t fully comprehended how different my life will be as I head off to college and I’m actively trying to avoid thinking about all of the family, friends and classmates that I will leave behind. It’s going to be so hard to leave home, but I wouldn’t have it any other way — It’s only hard to leave because of what incredible people and experiences I am leaving behind. I don’t know exactly what to expect next year, but I know how grateful I am for all of the memories that I have made, people I’ve met and lessons I’ve learned in high school and as a part of the Pathfinder. 

Brinda Ambal, Conceptual Editor-in-Chief

Write without a bias. It seems so simple. It’s the number one rule of journalism. I never thought it would be difficult. But it is. I wish I could tell you that my time on the Pathfinder has made it easier for me to respect both sides of the story and write things I personally don’t agree with. It hasn’t, though. It’s still really hard. It’s incredibly hard to sit across from one of my peers and hear him tell me that if women are assaulted, it sucks but we should keep the baby anyway.

Despite those experiences, high school journalism is incredibly rewarding. I can confidently say I’ve made an impact, and that’s all thanks to your involvement. I remember posting an article about the Board of Education’s wishy-washy decision making back in October of 2020, and the comments rolled in. Every single interaction, whether for or against the opinion we wrote, was because our article had made people feel something. So, read the Pathfinder. Stay informed. Interact respectfully in the comments. Let us know if there’s anything we can improve. This is your school’s newspaper, so be involved.

I’m a bit shocked at everywhere I’ve been around this school and the people I’ve gotten to know just by getting involved. This place is where I grew up and put myself out there. It makes me sad to leave but grateful to have grown. I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a bias. It’s okay to feel. Just make sure you’re acknowledging your biases exist. 

Tanvi Kulkarni, Features Editor

 It’s hard to believe that my time at West is almost up. I came into my freshman year unaware of where my future was headed, and graduation seemed too distant to truly worry about it. Now that it’s finally here, I can safely say that these past four years have been a roller coaster ride. Amid the various ups and downs, I’ve lived through a pandemic, gotten to know teachers and friends, written a boatload of papers and learned more math than I’ll probably ever need in my life.

It seems crazy that I can still remember the first day of high school like it was months ago instead of years. I wish I had slowed down a little bit and enjoyed the journey, but I hope I can always look back at this period of my life and be proud of how much I’ve grown and learned. I am grateful to this school and its teachers for helping me on my way, and I wish the best of luck to future classes.

Sarah Boland, Staff Writer

When I first started high school I had no clue what I wanted to do with my time. I joined Feminist Club because my brother said I should and I joined Field Hockey because I had friends on the team. Though I was reluctant to go at first, eventually I became the one dragging my brother to school every Tuesday morning so I could go to Feminist Club, instead of the other way around. Despite my initial hesitations, I stayed with these clubs throughout high school and I feel like they really gave me the opportunity to grow.

I joined Journalism my junior year even though I had been considering it since I was a freshman. It took a lot of pressure from my friends to convince me to join, but it is not something I regret doing. I’ve always been afraid of expressing myself but I think that Journalism offers the perfect outlet to do so. Journalism gave me the opportunity to become a better writer, express my opinions and write about stories that I found interesting. I was intimidated by the prospect of high school but with the classes I took and the clubs, I joined I was able to find my place within it. 

Even with less than a week left of school, I still can not believe that my time at high school is coming to an end. The people I met and the experiences I had are something that I think will always stick with me regardless of what I end up doing for the rest of my life. I want to thank everyone who made my high school experience the way it was and I hope everyone the best in their future endeavors.

Drew Boone, Staff Writer

Everyone talks about how in high school they grow up and mature as their four years progress but in retrospect, I feel that I have gotten more immature as high school went on. With that being said the main reason I feel I have gone back in time is that I learned to enjoy my time rather than stressing about things that won’t matter once the year is over. My four years at West and in the journalism program have given me a lot of perspective on events not only in the school but in the community as well. With basketball and tennis always being the part of the school that kept me really really engaged with the West community, the Pathfinder offered this in a different way that I learned to appreciate once I saw the significance in the work that we were doing. 


Ellie West, Staff Writer

As I am writing this, I have one week before I cross the stage in my cap and gown to mark the end of my high school career. High school has been nothing if not a little chaotic; a swirling mess of pandemic life, moving schools, familial changes, and mental health issues punctuated by the looming threat of college decisions. Despite the challenges of the past year, looking back now I am incredibly grateful.

Being a staff writer for The Pathfinder has allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself. The other staff members are some of the most kindhearted, loving, intelligent individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of calling my friends. There are not enough words for me to express my love for this group of individuals and our fearless leader, Mrs. Klevens. To each and every one of you, thank you for teaching me and caring about me. I leave here less alone than I came and for that, I am forever grateful.

Tre Bell, Staff Writer

Coming into high school I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I just thought I would be the basketball guy. But then I quickly realized I needed to get involved to see what I like. I ended up doing cross country along with track and basketball my freshman year. I continued to play basketball and run track for all four years of high school, but then the summer going into my sophomore year I tried out football for the first time after not playing since fifth grade, and I ended up breaking my collarbone. To be honest, I thought that was the end, but I stuck with it and kept playing and ended up being good enough to receive a college scholarship.

On the journalism side of things, I came in and I thought I didn’t belong because I looked around and saw all girls so I didn’t think I was meant to be in this class, but Klevens proved to me otherwise. I tried to be a part of the yearbook side of the class, but she told me she thought I’d make a great journalist, so I trusted her and went down the newspaper path. I am very grateful for that because doing that sparked new interests for me and improved my communication skills so much.

If I had to give any advice to freshmen coming into West I’d tell them to not be stubborn and think they can only do one thing. Go outside of your comfort zone and try new things, because you might surprise yourself and spark some new interests. 

Michael Lolley, Staff Writer

When I started high school I played three sports and was failing Convergence Journalism 1. Four years later and I only play one sport, and I still never get my work done in this class. At least some things never change, right? Walking through the halls four years ago was the most intimidating thing I’ve ever experienced, and it still is, to be honest, but at least I’m better at faking it now.

I started journalism my freshman year because my sister did it, and I needed one more elective. I spent the first year just mindlessly writing stuff down and accepting the editor’s comments. Somewhere during my sophomore year, I actually found my passion for writing. If it weren’t for this class, every paper in high school would’ve been 10 times harder to get started.

I still haven’t fully comprehended the idea that next year I just won’t be in these halls, or with my same friend group that I’ve been with since 8th grade. It’s a bittersweet feeling leaving West, and I will 100% miss every moment that I had here, but I’m sure Mrs. Klevens and the rest of my wonderful teachers and peers have set me up for great success later in life.

Tiffany Ung, Staff Writer

If there’s anything the last four years have taught me, it’s that you should prepare to be unprepared. You can make all the plans you’d like, but there’ll always be the proverbial wind ready to blow them out the window. Freshman me would shudder at the thought. But really, all we can do is embrace the present– and all the little surprises that come with it.

When I joined journalism this year, I’d planned on becoming a part of the yearbook staff. Thanks to a not-so-subtle push from a few friends, though, I stuck with the newspaper. During my elegant stumbling about in the world of AP style, I’ve found it most fulfilling to ask someone about their interests and watch their eyes light up. I’m glad I happened upon the newspaper because it’s helped me discover who I am deep down. I love giving others a platform to speak their minds. I love making people feel seen and heard. 

Words can’t describe how I feel at this point. I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet that I’ll eventually have that final walk across the breezeway laughing with friends. It’s going to be weird not seeing the same faces in the hallway anymore. I’m kind of (actually, maybe a lot) anxious about what lies ahead, but I’m confident that my time here at West has set me up for success with what’s to come.

Paige Matthys-Pearce, Staff Writer

I’m so glad I chose to join the newspaper against my will. I joined the newspaper sophomore year after stumbling through a feature interview with Brinda Ambal the year prior as the interviewee. I admired her grace in communication, something I desperately needed at the time. So, the next year, I forced myself to face my fear of conversation by joining the Pathfinder staff. 

I walked into my first interview–this time as the interviewer— with my hands shaking, heart racing, yet determined to get through it. I definitely looked down at my list of prepared questions more than necessary. What makes you happy? What’s one of your biggest fears? What do you want people to know about you? This “Humans of Parkway West” assignment opened my eyes to the unique yet universal nature of humanity. Our experiences are different, but we all experience the same emotions: joy, relief, fear and grief. In a world with so much division, I’ve found comfort in seeing these unifying aspects of humanity. It’s okay to feel. 

I also have to credit the newspaper for leading me into Speech and Debate, another experience that’s shaped who I am today. I was eating lunch in the journalism room one day near the end of sophomore year pre-pandemic. Some students on the debate team came in to sort ballots (results and judge feedback for improvement) from the tournament that weekend. The world of Speech and Debate was unknown to me, so I asked them about it, and they told me I should join. “It’s really fun and you learn a lot! You should do it!” They were so right. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve grown so much as a communicator, a student, a leader, and a person because of the Pathfinder and Parkway West Speech and Debate. The best part for me is connecting what I’ve learned in the classroom to real-time world events. I’ve learned that the world needs all of our help and that speaking up and starting conversations are impactful ways to make positive change and bridge our differences. Talking to one person, listening to one person, can change the world. That’s something I’ll take with me far beyond the walls of Parkway West.