Senior Presentations 2022
A time of transition
High school, like life, is a journey. There is no arrival point, there is no end—there is only transition.
As freshman year officially began this journey, the road ahead was full of excitement and new opportunities. It felt like I had been waiting to get to high school my whole life, and the time had finally come. Despite my excitement though, the road turned out to be an uphill climb. My classes were significantly more challenging than what I had expected, and I quickly learned that in many ways I had to depend on myself. There was more responsibility, which often meant more work. This was stressful at times, but overall it made me realize that I genuinely enjoy school work and learning; a realization that has continued with me even through my final days of high school.
As sophomore year began, my faith had been placed on a back burner. I found myself searching for fulfillment in other things, and wow did I learn a lesson about that. I found myself on a lonely road, and finally understood why God tells us to avoid sin. Sin often leads to suffering. I realized this, eventually, and began to seek God once again. Even with my wandering heart, Dock grounded me in my faith. This is why going to this school has been one of the largest blessings in my life. Being surrounded by a faith-filled community has been an anchor for me amidst the many storms this journey has brought. Chapel was always a place for me to come back to God, and without it there would be an immense void in my faith life.
It was at this point, the Summer of 2019, that I made the decision to come to Dock. Ever since we moved here from Pittsburgh in 2017, I had been looking for a private high school. I never really felt home at Methacton, and after two years it became apparent that I could not stay there. Dock was the polar opposite of everything that I had ever experienced in public school. I was drawn in by the balance of schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The contrast in academic culture between the schools was incredible. This is not to say that Dock’s class loads were lesser than, but rather to suggest that the teaching staff would rather you be able to have a life outside of class. I was in desperate need of someone to balance this for me, and I deeply appreciated it.
At the conclusion of that season, I turned all my energy into my classes. I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life after Dock, so I had to do some internal reflection. I knew I loved math and science, but I struggled with arts and humanities. No class meant more to me AP Physics I with Mrs. Mast. It was my first AP class, and it finally helped me realize that I wanted to become an engineer. Every day I was put to the test, which was rare since school just came naturally to me. This was the first time I had to seek extra help outside of class, and I needed every minute of it. We learned not just the material, but how to think critically and not fall for our “misconceptions.” This class ended with great fanfare during the 2021 Boat Race. Enlisting the help of Kolson, Ben, and Sheldon, we constructed a massive ship that would have been better suited for the Coast Guard than our pond. We could have fit seven or eight people in our boat, and we managed to traverse the entire pond, and win the title outright.
Science was always the main conflict with my journey with Christ. I have always enjoyed science and studying the natural world, but the conflict with the Church has been apparent for centuries. All the great minds were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church, and those accusations only had so much merit. The marriage of science and a Biblical understanding of the natural world is hard for anyone to balance. When I put aside my reservations about the creation of our world, I learned to just trust God and His Word. That, by its very definition, is faith, and we all need it to be Christians.
Life here is always more fascinating, with a lot of sports, and a lot of fun. I remember the day that I just come back from New York City, it was the league meet cross country. Speaking of cross country, that’s the first sport that I joined when I got here. And that’s always the first experience that I see how Americans love to exercise. In China, I was kind of the top athlete in my high school, with two times of championships in 800 meters, sometimes I consider myself a person that is good at sports. However, when I got here, I realized that I have that thought, may just because there were so less people that like sports back in China. I have to say, I’m just average here. There are so many hard-working athletes, who also have the better talents. Sports helped me build connections when I was new to other students in the school. Before I came to the United state, my parents and some of my friends worried about the life of relationships with the people around me. It turned out nearly every student I met was fun and enthusiastic. I always hope I would have come earlier to the US. But you can’t always do all you want, since the experience in Chinese high school as I mentioned is also unforgettable.
Now, standing here and sharing all of those highlights in this long journey, the more I share, the more I would like to give my thanks. First, thank you, all my teachers, for not only teaching me all those fascinating knowledge, both in the field of science and technology and social science. Also, as the fact all my friends have known for a long time is that I have magnificent host parents, they are one of the most the best and kindest people I’ve ever met, who not only give Impeccable care but also teach me the wisdom of life. With the help of them, I feel at home in this whole year. Finally, I want to thank my parents, who, unfortunately, can’t attend my speech today. I just want to say that studying abroad is the best gift you gave me.
Over the course of my high school career, I’ve developed my trust in God, my knowledge of the Bible, and my ability to apply said knowledge. I’ve become self-motivated and independent, learning how to learn things when the school resources don’t cut it. I’ve been finding purpose in what I’ve been learning. I’ve been learning how to interact with people and what those relationships would look like. And finally, I’ve been discovering my own identity.
While youth group became a safe place for discussion, even about highly divisive topics, school was a completely different story when I went back for junior year. I remember asking myself the same question, over and over again: “How can we learn to work together?” I was more aware of the political division that had engulfed our nation by then, and I disagreed with the vast majority of my classmates on just about everything. I began to feel somewhat uncomfortable at times because they were arguing so loudly for things I didn’t agree with. Fortunately, this wasn’t always the case, in part due to the block scheduling my school adopted that year. After chapel, we now had a small group time where we discussed the message with people from the same grade and gender. While I don’t think any of us changed others’ opinions, that wasn’t the goal, and we still had great discussions because we began to understand the varied viewpoints of our other classmates, which in our divided world is an important skill to have.
I remember when I got the email that my class schedule was available. I quickly stopped what I was doing and checked it out. What I found was the farthest thing from what I had hoped to find. So many study halls. No math, no computer science, no fun electives. It was devastating. My parents contacted the guidance counselor and asked what could be done, but he was swamped and couldn’t talk to us right away, so we began to inquire about other nearby schools. The local public school wouldn’t talk to us either, but someone from church recommended Dock. This time, the principal called us right back on his cell phone and got a tour set up right away. After seeing campus and realizing the opportunities I would have here, I quickly made the decision to transfer, despite the challenges I knew I would face. I did, however, have confidence that this was the right place for me and that good things would come out of it, as it had just seemed like there was this giant arrow pointing right here and the events leading up to it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence, could they? No, I decided, God knew what He was doing, and whether this was scripted out beforehand or not was no matter, He could make anything work in his plan. And, what do you know, God showed me that He was indeed going to make this work.
Speaking of classes, they were very different at Dock than I was used to. I was used to a very traditional lecture and test style with lots of mandatory homework, which often translated to busywork for me, but Dock had a very different philosophy. Some classes had optional homework, others didn’t have any. Some classes lacked tests, or in the case of English, a traditional grading system. It took some getting used to, but I felt this new philosophy was a good fit for me, especially since I like to learn stuff that I will actually use and rarely this year did I ever feel like I was learning something superfluous or doing too much work for too little reward. Kingdom Living was a standout Bible class, very different from any class I’d been in before, and being focused on applications and discussing issues of contention, it was right up my alley. I wish there would have been more universal participation and respect in that class, but between writing a paper on my opinion of war, going through Senior Experience, and talking about different interpretations of Scripture, I was deep into it. The class forced me to examine and discover my own beliefs, and I appreciated that.
Mr. Yoder’s advanced math class forced me to stretch my thinking. I learned a ton and was thankful for the ways that it equipped me for the math classes that I took thereafter. When I started the class I didn't have much faith in my academic abilities, I was scared that if I tried too hard or challenged myself too much, I would fail. But Mr. Yoder did not believe that, he thought that the only way you can grow is by pushing yourself. This forced me to take a new approach to my learning. I was so impressed with what I could do when I tried my best.
Dock has not only given me a place where I have felt loved; I have learned to be known. Not by who the people are in my life or what I have done. I have learned to feel known, because God knows me and speaks truth into my life. I know that I can trust his plans for my life because he is perfect and never fails.
My last concert at Dock, our Spring Concert, was quite meaningful. For the orchestra’s last song, we played Amazing Grace, and I played the solo violin part. The arrangement was stunning, but a bit challenging. When we were done, the audience responded with a standing ovation. I’ve never imagined myself getting such an honor from the audience. I almost cried on the stage. Then I saw Ashley behind the stage, and she was crying too. Many of my friends and audience members said Amazing Grace almost brought tears to their eyes.
When I first came here, I didn't have a strong belief in God. I never went back to church after my grandfather passed away. He was the only person I would go to church with, so I found it difficult to go back after his passing. However, after meeting many kind students and teachers here, I began to think more about God’s existence. I would always lay in my bed and think about how these people could be so nice to a stranger and be so willing to help me whenever I needed something. After two months at Dock, I found that they all had one thing in common—their unwavering faith in God. I haven’t been in church for a long time, but one thing I could remember was that God always told us to love our neighbors. One day, I went up to one of my friends and asked her a few questions about God. She told me that he will always find a way for me when I am struggling with something, and people here are kind because many of them are followers of Christ. After a few months of attending my friend’s youth group events and Bible studies, I felt the existence of God. In my journey, my friends and teachers helped me a lot to find my way to God.
I am grateful for Dock and everything it has taught me. The teachers are real, honest, caring, and approachable. They want to see you succeed in school and life. I have been touched by how much different teachers have helped me over the years. Sports have played an important role during high school. They have brought me closer to my peers and God. Sports have taught me to give everything I have and play for God. When I do it brings me so much joy.
I quickly found out that we were taking a “two-week break from school.” Yeah right. I knew even then that it wouldn’t be two weeks, and I was practically in tears leaving school that day because I love school! Through the experience of online school, I was amazed over and over again about how much my teachers care. Mrs. Smith sent us cards with a message for each of us and set up Zoom conferences just to hang out with us. She was one of the many teachers who reached out to us over this hard time.
I realized that I didn’t want to stay in my bubble forever when I joined the culture club. It was a small group of girls from different grade levels and backgrounds. We would have picnics by the pond and learn more about each other. It felt great to branch out to new people and social circles, and it felt like for the first time I had chosen to learn something new on my own. I wasn’t in the culture club because I had to be, like all my other classes, but rather because I genuinely wanted to learn more about others than just what is on the outside, and this can apply to almost any aspect of life; to keep diving deeper than just what is on the surface.
One of my greatest lessons that I have learned is to keep exploring, keep learning, and keep experiencing. If you let it, learning can give you a global perspective, an open mind, and an imagination. There is nothing more inhibiting than a narrow mind. Without creativity, how are we supposed to keep innovating and improving: the world would be stagnant without creative minds learning and building off of the past and present to make a better future. I’m grateful to have learned this lesson freshman year because an open mind led me to meet so many people from other schools, camps, churches, and communities. It can be incredibly refreshing to leave your comfort zone and talk to someone new, or try something for the first time.
The older I get and the more things I accomplish, I begin to understand the extent of hard work and determination it took my parents, and other adults I look up to, to achieve their goals and lifestyles. After having an economics class for the first time, I've started to pay more attention to what I want in life, and how to achieve it. My parents show me what true and genuine sacrifice is by giving up pieces of their lives for the sake and benefit of my sister and I. I hope I can learn from them, and return the favor later in life.
I was a bit disappointed that this show wasn’t going to be a musical because the directors decided to make the play, which is usually in the spring, in the fall, but I was intrigued by how it was going to be put on; the show was Little Women, and it was performed entirely virtually over Zoom. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to work in my usual capacity of sound as a member of the tech crew, but rather as a member of the odd sort of stage crew we had. My job was to switch virtual backgrounds for my assigned cast member, Isabel Bergin, turn her camera on and off, and also help move set pieces for the other cast members near me. While this was definitely an unusual theater experience and not at all what I was expecting for my second-to-last show at Dock, it was also a uniquely wonderful experience.
The most I was ever exposed to God that year, besides the typical Bible class, was when my soccer team would meet up for a new thing we started: worship nights. This felt different than the prior year because freshman year was all about who was the best, but this year felt more uplifting and spiritually beneficial. I remember going to Peyton Scialanca’s house, gathering around on her couches, and listening to Sydney Leaman play her guitar as we sang worship songs. It was peaceful and such an inviting experience. We continued these habits of prayer before games and prayer as we ended practices. It really was the small things that counted.
Lastly, I have to thank God. There isn’t anything I have experienced in my life that you haven’t been a part of. Every bad moment, there was a lesson and I now know you were trying to show me. You provided this school for me and this family, and I pray everyday that you continue to light my path forward as I continue. And a very big thank you to Dock itself for the opportunities, and the friendships you have helped me form. Thank you all.
Before 10th grade started, I played in Dock’s last summer league game. After the game, I started to think about going to a new school. I was starting to get nervous. Just as I was about to leave the gym, a senior on the team, Jake Derstine, came running up to me. Jake said he was looking forward to seeing me when school started and was hoping I would be trying out for the team. It was a very simple thing Jake did. It was a simple act of kindness. One teammate to another...but in a way, it was more than that. It was what my parents were hoping for me... They wanted me to have the feeling of belonging and feel accepted as a peer. The seniors on the 2020 basketball team really helped me feel accepted and part of the team. I want to thank Jake, Darius, Ralph, Cecil, Braden for everything they did.
It was at the beginning of 10th grade. I had been at Dock for only two weeks. Mr. Benner asked for volunteers to share in chapel. My parents volunteered me...they thought it would be a good way to introduce myself to the Dock students...I thought...why can’t I just send everyone an email? But there I was...In front of chapel...looking out at over 350 students...many that I had never met...on that day I talked about being adopted and how lucky I was. As I stepped away from the podium, I received a very heartfelt and sincere applause. That day, I was made to feel like I belonged. It was like how I felt when Jake spoke to me.
The coaches’ commitment was very obvious at the BAL championship. I missed qualifying for the championship mile by one second. My best time in the mile was 5:36...Yes, you heard that right...after never running track or cross country before...I ran the mile in 5:36. My mile time would mean I would be running in the novice mile at the championship. The novice mile is like a runner-up race. No team points are earned. So there I was. Lining up to run the novice mile. A mile that would mean nothing in terms of Dock’s chances of winning the league championship that day. But you wouldn’t know that from how the coaches treated the race. They were all there for me...all five coaches...a race that you could say meant nothing. But for 5 minutes and 37 seconds the most important thing for all of the coaches was my novice mile. They were all watching me run, shouting encouragement, giving instruction. I won that race. To all of the track coaches...thank you. I will always remember what you did for me.
A few weeks later, I ran in districts. This was the goal I had since joining the track team. I am proud to say that I was part of a league and district champion! Coach Eger, thank you for finding a way to help me be successful.