The hills are alive...
...with the Sound of Music!
As they prepare to leave Dock, seniors reflect on their high school years as a transforming time of change, growth, and maturity.
In addition to the Commencement ceremony itself, the Senior Presentation is a signature event marking the transition from high school to the next season of life for Dock students. As part of the Communications class curriculum, every graduating senior at Dock gives a 20-minute oral presentation at the end of the year in which they reflect on their high school years and the ways they have grown academically, socially, and spiritually.
This year, those presentations will be held on June 4, 5, and 6, according to the schedule below. Family and friends are invited to support our students with your attendance.
This year, I had the incredible privilege of joining Dock Touring Choir. I had always looked at the students in green with awe, knowing I wanted to be one of them someday. To have that ‘someday’ come was unbelievable. That summer, I got to be part of the last Europe trip with Mr. Derstine before his retirement, and we sang at huge cathedrals and tiny Mennonite churches. It was an experience like no other. I got to tour Germany, where we ate tons of schnitzel; Austria, where we climbed to a peak in the Alps early one morning; Switzerland, where we slid down a chute in an ancient salt mine; Italy, where I left my passport and wallet on a beach, didn’t find out until the next morning (surprise, Mom!); and France, where I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast as I walked down cobblestone streets, ate French crepes and was called ‘Mademoiselle.’ The memories we made will last a lifetime.
My school year began with my last tennis preseason. I took it upon myself to help Cody out as much as possible as he was on his own as coach this year. Cody did an amazing job, and I could not thank him enough for his hard work, dedication, and time that he put into our team. I found myself playing first singles against district- and state-ranked girls, but I decided to just have fun and give it my all in every match, with the pure motivation to just enjoy my last season. I wanted to be a great captain and leader for the team this year, so I took every opportunity to be encouraging and show the girls the importance of what it means to be a teammate. I guess I did well because I received the Leadership Award at our sports banquet.
When Austin Landes came to Dock and shared about an opportunity to travel to Entebbe, Uganda, I was hooked. It was an adventure and a completely new experience for me. We did things like paint a basketball court, visit an orphanage, and throw a Christmas party. The Christmas party was without a doubt the highlight of the week for me. For a guy who works at a summer camp, loves kids, and intends on being a social work major, let's just say that being surrounded by 1,000 happy screaming children was a dream come true.
Living with my American host parents, I felt a little shy to talk to them but I really appreciate what they did for me, especially my host mom, who made great meals for us. One day after school, I came home and found a note on the table that said: “Dear Andy, sorry I will be late coming home today. If you are hungry, you can find some left overs in the refrigerator.” An idea popped into my head: make a traditional Chinese meal for them. The result turned out very good. My host mom liked my food and was surprised about my cooking skills. She joked with me, “I thought you only knew how to eat,” and we burst into a laugh. She asked if I could teach her how to make Chinese food. We had more conversations and we became closer to each other.
One night of the [Social Issues] trip really sticks out to me. A group of us were walking around Georgetown, enjoying the freedom that was granted to us on that trip. After getting Panda Express, a group of us remembered a homeless man who had been outside. We were talking about bringing him dinner and giving him any cash we could spare. As we opened our fortune cookies, we were inspired by the words “lend a hand to one less fortunate than yourself.” Jake, Rina, Mindy, Liz, Shane, and I all went out the man and asked if he’d like dinner. As Liz, Shane, and Jake went to get it, Mindy, Rina, and I stayed back and talked to him. When we sat on the sidewalk, he looked at us, surprised, and said, “You’re going to sit? With me?” He told us about all the places he traveled to and tried to guess where we were from. The rest of the group came back and handed him the food and some change we were able to gather up. He kissed our hands and thanked us. Rina asked him, “Do you believe in God?” and he answered, “Sometimes.” We asked if we could pray over him, and as we did, someone walking by joined our prayer and added a few dollars to our collection. He held our hands and thanked us, asking if we could come back to talk tomorrow. But we were leaving the next day. That was one of the defining moments of my life. That one man really changed my ideas about the homeless and made a big impact on me.
My reading disability was a challenge that I did not want to define me. I was placed in a Learning Support class with Mrs. Grega my freshman year. I will be honest, I was uncomfortable attending this class. But Mrs. Grega believed in me. From day one she motivated, challenged, and expected great things from me. Her straightforward approach, honesty, and faith in me allowed me to improve on my reading skills and become a more confident advocate for myself.
Now, as my four years at Dock come to an end, I know that I leave here as a stronger individual. I entered high school lacking confidence and concerned about what was in store. I depart Dock with confidence in my abilities and excited and prepared to take on York College in the fall.
A class at Dock that will hold a very special place in my heart is Faith Walk. Hearing everyone’s stories really made me realize I was not alone in how I felt about things. That class really changed my perspective on how people think, and it made me realize we should never judge a book by its cover. When I gave my personal testimony, I couldn’t believe how many people came up and said they could relate to me; it made me feel like I was not alone.
To all people who have yet to be seniors at this school: do me a favor and take Faith Walk. It’s the most fulfilling class you will ever take. You get to know people on levels you never even imagined. It was during that class that I had the biggest epiphany in my entire life: God truly does love me, and no matter how much I screw up, He will never leave me nor forsake me. Remember what that one person said about people using God as a crutch to deal with the real world? He’s right. Humans are weak, every single one of them, no matter what they believe. That’s why we need God—to make us strong.
First semester I was fortunate to have Dr. Bishop for freshman English. Even though his 10-point reading quizzes challenged me, he focused a lot of class time on teaching us about real life scenarios. During this class we had to write our first major paper; at the time I was extremely proud of my five-page paper about Jackie Robinson because it took me several hours to write. Now, writing a paper with that length would be a breeze.
The school year started when I walked into Concert Choir and shook the new director’s hand. The new director, Ms. Grimes wasn’t anything like Mr. Derstine, but that’s not what she was there to do. She was there to lead us in making meaningful music. She did exactly that. I liked the way that she connected with the text of the songs that we sang and how each one meant something different. We didn’t just sing songs because they sounded nice, but because they resonated with something deeper within us all.
I saved the best class for last: AP Calculus. I knew that if I was going to succeed I would need to humble myself and come in early and ask Mr. Yoder for help. Some weeks I came in four out of the five days at 7 a.m. to meet with him. He never seemed to take a break and stayed in school later than everyone else. Mr. Yoder I can honestly say that you were my favorite teacher at Dock, and you have taught me more lessons than I ever thought possible. Thanks for inviting me to sing in the bluegrass quartet while you played guitar. It’s something that I’ll never forget.
Our first stop was Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. When I saw the real thing, not just what appeared from my history textbook, I felt like a historical understanding came from my heart. It is correct that you can learn more things in real life than in a book. Matt, Ryan, Ethan, and I were in the same group, and we talked about ourselves, and they were curious about me, asking many questions about where I was from and why I came to Dock. And I asked them how they felt about international students like me; they said they were comfortable to hang out. This field trip was the top highlight of my sophomore year.
Dock teachers were my lifesavers because they let me know that I can truly be myself and do not have to be afraid of sharing my ideas with others. Their way of teaching opened up my interest about studying. When they dealt with international students like us, they were always patient and gave us extra help.
After my fourth time trying to get my visa, I didn’t get an answer right away and I was waiting for weeks to see if my prayers would become a reality. Before that I had a warm interview with Mr. Hackman and I truly enjoyed talking with Mrs. McTavish and hearing her stories of visiting and living in Lithuania four different times. It is awesome to get to know someone who is from a country like the U.S. and knows something about a small country like Lithuania. After weeks of waiting, I finally received my visa and was ready to come to the U.S. I packed my stuff and three days later I was in airport saying the hardest goodbye to the ones I love the most. I still picture myself walking toward the gate and trying not to cry, but as soon as I passed the gate I started crying like a little baby. But soon I realized there is no reason to cry, because it was my choice for a better life, so I should be smiling, not crying. I knew those were happy tears.
One area in my academic life that I grew in would be in my reading. I used to hate reading because I had a hard time comprehending what certain books were talking about. Dr. Bishop got me interested in reading by giving me different methods I could use in order to understand the text. He gave the class a sheet that had six different reasons why we read. Viewing these reasons, I was now able to decide for myself what it was that I wanted to get out of the book, and I found myself starting to enjoy reading again. Dr. Bishop helped me get back on track with a very important academic tool, and he is someone I will be forever grateful for.
It was the day of the boat race. We pushed the “Flying Pig” into the water and started our race across the lake. As many other boats started sinking due to thin edges and bad connections between the tape and boat, our boat just kept going without any water inside. We made it to the other side with our beautiful boat without any damage. Our efforts finally paid off at that moment. I realized how important teamwork is as we conquered all the problems we faced.
Senior year, I had a moment I will never forget. It was our senior night, and we were playing a talented Gwynedd Mercy team. We lost our lead and the score was 4-3. I got my 99th goal on a corner to tie it , then a minute later they took the ball down and scored to go up 5-4. We quickly took the ball down field and we got a corner with no time left. We played the corner out and I ended up scoring my 100th goal to make the game go into overtime. Then Macy had the winning goal in overtime for the win! It was a crazy game, and an awesome night which also happened on my birthday. It’s definitely an 18th birthday I will never forget.
In English class this year, we were required to do a research project on a topic of our choice. I chose to learn more about our prison system, why there are so many people incarcerated, and how our country treats people who are, or have been in jail. I also read Orange is the New Black to help give me a better perspective of someone who was incarcerated. I am glad I chose this topic, and it stirred up interest for me to possibly work with incarcerated people one day.
We got to experience a Pentecostal church service [in Washington, DC] which was neat. I enjoyed traveling with Mr. Benner handing out meals to the people that needed them. It was eye-opening walking around the city and seeing the wide range of economic status. I loved seeing the beautiful buildings of the city at night. This class also helped me to gain my own perspective on issues in our world. I was able to form my own opinion, and have better conversations with people who disagreed with me as well.
I have known what I have wanted to do with my life since middle school. God has put a passion for serving others on my heart. I want to be able to do this on a daily basis as an occupational therapist, but part of me feared that I would hate it. Because of that, I decided to shadow an OT for my Senior Experience. Cheryl Shreiner was nice enough to allow me to shadow her, and I absolutely fell in love with OT. It was more than I ever imagined it would be, and I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I enjoyed myself so much that I did a presentation on early intervention occupational therapy for my Family Living class. It is with great satisfaction that I will be attending Elizabethtown College in the fall where I will be in their five-year Masters of Occupational Therapy program.
Going to Haiti for my Senior Experience was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This trip changed me as a person and my perspective on the world. I realized how happy the Haitians were every day, even though they barely had anything. I experienced more God moments than I have ever experienced in my entire life. Every night all of us would sit on the rooftop and gaze into the night sky. We would share funny stories and occasionally have deep conversations. During the day, we would travel by sitting on top of the jeeps. At the end of the week we helped a total of 1,234 people.
Since I had been taking Spanish continuously since freshman year and was in AP Spanish IV this year, I was pretty proficient. So I decided to volunteer at ACLAMO in Norristown for Senior Experience. They provide services to the Hispanic community, including an after-school program. I spent the week translating, creating pamphlets, and teaching ESL. It was incredible. I grew my Spanish vocabulary and practiced my verb conjugation and I was actually able to communicate with people using Spanish.
The last morning I was there, Alana Bergey and I taught an ESL lesson about snow days to a group of moms. I was trying to teach them the idea that a snow day meant there wouldn't be school for their children, and where to look to see whether the district called off school or not. My supervisor had told me not to use Spanish so they could learn through other connections. So I started to describe snow to them in Spanish and making the connections that way. We ended up having a lovely conversation, not just about snow, but about their children and how scary it is for them to have to try using English.
I did not accept religious things when I first came here. What are God, Jesus and gospels? These things for me were nonsense. I learned them only for getting good grades. However, my perspective toward Bible class changed as I joined the choir during my sophomore and junior years. I was also unconsciously influenced by the three days a week of chapel. It is delightful to hear stories from the variety of people who shared with us. I gained a strong feeling of community and the strength of faith. I learned about the Old and New Testaments, and Kingdom Living in my senior year pushed my understanding into a higher level.
A quote from 1 Peter 4:8 says: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over multitude sins.” I found this quote meaningful as I learned the principles of non-violence of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. I began to believe that non-violence can overcome evil and injustice in every circumstance, even though the process would be full of difficulties. Bible class was no longer my suffering time during school. Even though I am still not a Christian, I believe there is a God, and he will strengthen me and fill the atmosphere around me with love.
The Faith Walk overnight retreat was a key turning point in my life. At the retreat we start at a prayer labyrinth—a maze-type thing—and as you walk toward the center you are to let go of worldly thoughts and focus on coming to meet God in the center. I spent a while in the center asking God to reveal himself to me in some way that weekend.
This is how he did just that: As I mentioned before, my grandmother passed away in April 2016. She told us that if she could send anything to us it would be a cardinal. On the retreat we had to spend an hour in solitude. I was sitting on a rock snuggled up in two blankets trying not to freeze when all of a sudden a cardinal landed on my knee. I felt the utmost amount of peace during this moment. I felt a lot closer to the people in my Faith Walk class at the end of the quarter, and was upset that it had to end so soon. But I am thankful for the new and reconciled friendships that came out of that class.
Junior year was challenging because I tried out for track and field. I was on track team when I was an elementary school student, and I was on the soccer team ever since I came to the U.S. After a couple of years of soccer, I was sure I was in shape for track. In shape? No way. I was the complete opposite. Coach Eger was strict, and he would not listen to any of my excuses. Never in my life have I been through more demanding and exhausting practices. I thought about quitting every single day. Despite the physical hardships of the sport, I managed to endure. What made it harder for me was the fact that I was alone—the only Asian runner among the crowd of tall, long-legged, and experienced American kids.