Senior Columns

The senior members of The Bell share their last goodbyes.

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   Riley Kelley: Warning – Sappy Content – University of Arkansas

Photo courtesy of the Kelleys

   There is nothing that could’ve prepared me for what it feels like to sit down and write my final column for The Bell. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, from being relieved about not having to PDF pages this time around – don’t worry Paige, you’ll be fine – to being sad about leaving people I care about.

   Last week, I sat down with the staff and went over the feedback we received from the judges at the state competition. As I read the comments out loud, I realized something – I’ve been on newspaper staff for the last three years of my high school career and it’s been the most transformative experience of high school. It hasn’t impacted me because of the awards we’ve won, or the improvements I’ve made in my writing, or even the confidence it’s given me. It’s been the most impactful part of my high school career because I found my second family.

   Since my sophomore year, Oyler has insisted “we are a team, not a family.” During my first year on staff, I was welcomed with open arms by a roomful of people I barely knew. Room 605 quickly became my safe space, the only place in the building where I felt at home. I laughed until my stomach hurt in that class, especially when we added a Ken doll to our family to keep our Barbie company (don’t ask, it’s a long story). Every person on staff wanted me to feel valued and I attribute much of my success on newspaper to the love I received the first year.

   This sense of family didn’t end. There has never been a day since that I’ve walked into newspaper and not been reminded of how loved I am. The people whom I’ve shared this experience with have become my best friends, adopted siblings, trusted confidants, biggest supporters and the people who always understand my Vine references. These people will always have a special place in my heart.

   Although this chapter of my life is ending, I know these people will always be with me. As Oyler has finally admitted, we are a family, even if we’re sometimes a dysfunctional one. To all of my newspaper kiddos: I love you.


   Jenna Spence: Rocks with Sprinkles on Top – Emporia State University

Photo courtesy of the Spences

   My sister is 29 years old and was a part of the LHS class of 2006. She was always telling me how great high school was. She spoke of sneaking in past curfew (no, I don’t recommend this), finding her best friends whom she is still close with and the stupid stuff her friends did. My favorite story involved an incident with her friend taking our dad’s blow dart, using it, and a friend’s backside being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I couldn’t wait to go create my own high school stories.

   Before I knew it, high school has come and gone. I feel as though I have fulfilled my hope of creating my own high school stories. Freshman year, I was fortunate to meet my two best friends. I met one of them when she couldn’t find anywhere to sit at lunch, and there was an open seat next to me. I later reconnected with my other best friend after drifting apart during the great middle school divide of 2013 when we ran into each other at Panera. Her boyfriend had just broken up with her so naturally I showed up at her doorstep with ice cream and Disney movies in less than 30 minutes.

   For the next four years, I continued to make more friendships, but the three of us were each other’s rock no matter what. We experienced all of the major stepping stones that happen to high schoolers together. Slowly yet surely we all got our driver’s licenses and drove to each other’s houses (I use the term slowly because I am the oldest of our trio, but I was the last to take my test). Boyfriends coming and going, getting grounded and having to FaceTime each other rather than hang out (“it’s totally unfair!”), the works. Now it is college applications and college acceptances.

   The three of us also experienced some things that no high schooler should ever have to go through. However, no matter what, we were at each other’s side with no hesitation. Every picture, video and memory captured in high school was all impacted by my two best friends. We fought like sisters, supported each other and without realizing it, grew up together. Every school day since that day of freshman year, my best friend has sat at the seat right next to mine at lunch. Every single time something goes wrong, we naturally show up at each other’s door with ice cream (of course). My high school story is my two best friends. Oh hey, Sam and Ali, wanna go get ice cream tonight?


   Teegan Saunders: Adios Señors – University of Missouri

Photo courtesy of the Saunders’

   Over the past four years, I never expressed my gratitude to the people who impacted me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m honest when a slip of paper is my only witness. Granted this slip of paper gets published into the newspaper but I’m choosing to ignore that for now.

   I have to start by thanking a few people. Some names that stand out would have to be Joey, Riley, Daryl and Jenna, all of whom have suffered through frustration fueled rants that go on too long. They have been a source of support for me, and remind me that I’m a confusing, messy person and loved because of it.

   I’d like to thank the teachers and staff at LHS who dedicated their lives to shaping each new generation. LHS has given me so many options, opportunities and memories that I’m so grateful for. From McDorman rapping in the lunchroom to Winkler hiding Ludwig’s broom in the ceiling, I am so thankful for these times I experienced.

   My parents also come to mind when I think of people who helped change me for the better. My mom, who withstands my obsessive consumption of green tea, but more importantly who stands by me. My stepdad Kevin, who has become a father to me in a way I never anticipated. I’m so glad my mom found somebody that inspires me to love and cherish the people around me in the same way he loves her.

   Finally, I need to shout out my siblings for always making sure my head never gets too big. Kate, Axel and Beck, you all make me want to do the best I can to be an example that an older sibling should be. Kye, I can’t wait to see you at Mizzou.

   High school has been a time for me to learn and grow into myself. When I started, I thought I’d never find my way out of the maze of adolescence and awkward stages. I mispronounced words and struggled with weight issues for most of high school. I still stumble on my words and mispronounce things, but I have accepted myself. For me, high school isn’t about becoming perfect, it’s about recognizing my flaws and choosing to accept them.

   Thank you LHS for the four years of friendship, struggles and growth. I would not be the person I am today without the plethora of moments I’ve experienced in high school. I’m going to miss this these years immensely and I plan to remember every subpar and exceptional moment I had.


   Daryl Gichui: Living my Best Life – Missouri S&T

Photo courtesy of the Gichuis

   We did it guys. I remember starting freshman year a bit timid. I was played my life out really safe, never trying to stand out too much in class and keeping conversations to simple and awkward small talk. I was unsure of myself and worried about what people would think of this lanky, weird and kid. Now, I run around in nothing but running shoes and technicolor toucan shorts without a second thought. I’m still just as lanky, weird and as I was freshman year, and I’m pretty sure my voice has gone up two octaves since then, but what didn’t improve on the outside has on the inside.

   At LHS, I’ve learned you can’t control what people think about you. People will say how they feel, but you can only control how you feel about yourself. After years of walking this talk, senior year, I’ve been living my best life. I had my glow up!

   I started scoring on varsity in cross country. I hit my stride in sales as the ads manager. I got a job, even though I’m still trying to figure out how to balance it with life. I was also lucky enough to be Courtwarming King.

   I feel fortunate when I look back on my high school career. I can honestly say they’ve been the greatest years of my life. But not because of any title I’ve won, races I placed in, or how little money I made. It’ll be because of those 6:00 a.m. runs and

pre-meet days I had with my cross country brothers, or the silly hypotheticals and deep conversations I had in Newspaper class with my Advanced Pub crew, who call ourselves the brunch bunch.

   There are so many moments, relationships and inside jokes I’ve built up that I’m not ready to let go of. Not to mention that I’m worried my glow up is about to dim down. I’m excited to graduate next week but being involved has let me meet so many great people and make spontaneous friendships, and I’m sitting here dumbfounded and hesitating to say goodbye.

   Let this last column be my thank you letter to all and everyone who’s made an impact on my life and to anyone I’ve even had the tiniest impact on. It’s been more than I could’ve ever asked for.


   Aaron Jones: From Space to Space Bar – University of Missouri Kansas City

Courtesy of the Jones’

   My four years at LHS have been a thought-provoking time. When I first walked into LHS in 2014, my first thought was how crowded it was compared to middle school. After making my way through throngs of people, the thought left my mind and I began high school. I would say the majority of my time here was good. I did well in most of my classes, biology being an exception.

   When I started high school I had a plan I thought I would follow to the letter. I wanted to take every science class available and go into something involving astronomy. Well, two things changed that. First, it turned out I disliked biology. While it wouldn’t really matter for astronomy, it still put me off. Second, a friend introduced me to computer science. That introduction, along with taking computer architecture and web design classes my freshman year, made me want to pursue this after I graduate. As I took more classes, computer science stood out as what I was good at and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

   Another thing surprised me when I started high school: writing. In middle school, I was not very good at writing. I got Cs and Ds on every essay I wrote and about the same in Comm Arts. My first essay was just for the teacher to get a feel of where I was with my writing. The grade I would have gotten had it been a real essay was a B. Which for my history of Cs and Ds was a real surprise. This trend continued with me doubting myself about my writing and the final product surprising me with its quality.

   This culminated with my first essay in junior year. If I remember correctly it was about hysteria in “The Crucible.” My teacher liked it so much, she tried to get me to join newspaper. At that time it was a definite “no” in my mind, yet over the semester she wore me down and I decided to sign up. I was questioning it then and, to be honest, I’m still somewhat questioning whether or not it was a good decision today. My teacher says I made the right decision to try it because it will help me in whatever career I pursue. No matter if it was a good decision or not, it was not something I planned on doing when I walked in here four years ago through the crowd of people.

   As I am going to college I have a plan laid out once again. As with all plans I expect it to change just like my plan for high school did. I just hope I can make the best of it just like I did here.

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