Senior Reflection: Stumbling in and stumbling out

Noah Labelle, Contributing Writer

I quite literally stumbled into high school. No, not from a lack of academic preparedness; Mr. Brady’s English class at Trottier ensured that. Instead, I physically limped my way through the halls during freshman orientation. Five months earlier, I broke my leg in a sledding accident, leaving me in a wheelchair for the rest of eighth grade. After being pushed around the halls by the guy who walked away with only  a bloody nose—thanks, Cam Jackson—I was ready to start moving forward on my own.

It took a little while, but I began to find my footing within the four walls of Algonquin…or, rather, within the four walls of my Zoom screen. Those quiet first weeks of the COVID pandemic allowed me to discover who I was and what I truly cared about. The murders of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans unsettled me, pushing me to address racial discrimination in any way possible. An opportunity emerged when Mr. Bevan announced he was seeking students to join a study group to explore changing the Tomahawk as our school mascot. After hours of thoughtful conversation on the complexities of cultural appropriation, I helped present our recommendation to the school committee, and we all know what happened from there.

Working on the mascot initiative proved to me that young people can inspire change, and I’ve only become more convinced as I’ve dived deeper into advocacy. Since the T-Hawk was retired, Algonquin students have walked out of class to protest gun violence, pushed for student representation on the school committee, successfully petitioned Southborough to lower the municipal voting age and much more. These accomplishments are incredible, don’t get me wrong, yet I still can’t help but feel lost in the world we live in. From daily mass shootings to a climate crisis our leaders seem unable to address, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by all the hate and inaction.

As my senior year concludes, I wonder if I’m stumbling out the door even more so than when I first walked through the rotunda four years ago. While my naïvitée back in 2019 told me that my broken leg was the biggest issue I’d ever face, I now see no shortage of seemingly insurmountable challenges everywhere I look. It will be scary to walk out into the real world for the first time and face this harsh reality. Nonetheless, if my time at ARHS has taught me anything, it is that critically-thinking and committed young people can make a difference, if they are willing to step up to the task. In the words of John Lewis, don’t be afraid to make some “good trouble;” the world will be all the better for it.