Alumnus Corner

Hannah Chesley, Class of 2013

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Alumnus Corner

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Hey, Warriors!

Although you have never met me and I have never met you, it’s crazy how much we actually have in common. You see, it was only a few short years ago that I was in the same place in life as you, under the same roof of Lincoln-Way West, surrounded by friends and faculty, going about each day curious of what was to come next.

However, the difference between you and me is that you are living it – while I am reflecting on it. Recently, I have taken a trip down memory lane, and despite the years since graduation there are a couple things that I have carried with me since my time at West and want to share.

Say hello and be kind to all.

Leaving my small grammar school and entering a bigger high school, my mom would always tell me “It’s just a friendly face in the hallway – say hello to everyone.” Still to this day, this phrase follows me in every new opportunity and relocation I experience. Some of my best stories from high school come from a simple “Hello” that leads to an amazing story or friendship and the sincerest thank you note from a student that simply needed someone to notice them. It may seem simple and stupid, but a little “Hello” leads you down an amazing and incredible adventure.

Don’t be concerned about “finding” yourself.

The truth is, no matter how hard you force it or want it, you won’t wake up one day and feel like you have really found yourself. Heck, I am seven years out of high school and still feel like I am finding myself. Don’t be in such a rush to be “the athlete,” “the artist,” “the aspiring engineer.” Let yourself explore. Let yourself get a little lost in finding what you truly love. One of my favorite parts of Lincoln-Way West was everything it had to offer. The way in which I could be in an art class one hour of my day and then go to track practice the next. The way I could go on a run with friends from my sports and then have friends I could go to a concert with or have nerdy book conversations with. The possibilities were endless and looking back now, I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to explore anything I was curious about, and that shaped me into what I am today.

Know that you are part of the West family.

It wasn’t long after I graduated from Lincoln-Way West that I hit a pretty big rough patch in life.  I went from a happy-go-lucky, full of life, social high school student to a terrified, anxious, depressed incoming college freshman. There were a lot of days during that period of time, I wondered what life past this rut looked like and how I was going to get out of it. Well, thanks to my immediate family and my West family I made it to the other side and gosh, the other side is incredible! Remember, your family of West does not just consist of your best friends. It is your teachers, mentors, counselors, and even your principal, Dr. Schmitt. Don’t forget that whether you are in school or graduated – these people are and will always be on your side.

Always remember what it means to be a Warrior.

Remember the lessons and characteristics that this amazing place taught you. Remember the sportsmanship in games, the respect in classrooms, the joy in pursuing things you love, and the way we in which we get back up and try again after we fall. Most of all, remember the pride in being a Lincoln-Way West Warrior representing the orange, black, and white.

Stop and soak it in.

Often when you’re living a moment, you don’t stop to soak it in. However, when the time is over and you’re years out of high school, it is the one thing you will wish you would have done. Soak in the school colors, the chant of the drumline, and the rumble of the stadium at a Friday night football game. Soak in the nerves you have before stepping out for a big competition or performance. Enjoy the simple walks to class with friends and the drives down country roads to and from school. Don’t be too cool for the excitement you have before your first homecoming or the day you get your permit. While you are running around, laughing, and living in these moments, I challenge you every so often to just stop—and soak it all in.

Now, go sing the chant a little louder for me and have the time of your life.

Hannah Chesley (LWW Class of 2013)