It’s hard to fathom we’re already well into May. In fact, I’m in shock. I’m trying to take a step back to process my experience at Regis Jesuit High School (Denver, CO), but finding it quite challenging. I have to be honest, writing this blogpost, my last one at that, may be the most daunting labor I’ve endured this year. Yes, believe it or not facing a classroom full of teenagers for the first time was less intimidating to me than writing a simple blog. But in my defense, attempting to write a reflection that adequately encapsulates the culmination of the year and my overall experience as an Alum Service Corps volunteer is no easy task.
Continuing the theme of honesty, I have a confession: I’ve been a procrastinator. This post was actually due about a week ago, and I could be mistaken, but I believe I may have missed one prior to this in its entirety. But my procrastination wasn’t due to laziness (this time). I think I’ve been in denial that my year of service is coming to an end. I kept telling myself the reason I wasn’t writing was because I didn’t know what to write about. But upon reexamining my last entry, I realized a surplus of life-changing events have occurred since then and choosing one to describe would be, as the cliché goes, like shooting fish in a barrel.
And perhaps I should take a moment to reflect on those experiences. After all, in my own assessment they were “life-changing” right? Since my last update, I’ve been teaching three new classes, two in the Boys Division and one in the Girls Division. Along with teaching these classes came the opportunity to get to know about sixty new people. It’s funny, when preparing for these courses, meeting new people was the furthest thing from my mind. I meticulously made lesson plans, created learning objectives and outlined lectures and discussions. I thought about learning strategies, best practices and tackled just about every approach I learned from my teaching certification classes last semester. But I don’t think the prospect of meeting and getting to know sixty unique individuals crossed my mind once. The most obvious gift of the ASC experience was oblivious to me. Now I realize that engaging in conversation with my students, making them laugh and learning about their passions have been some of the most rewarding facets of my year.
Not only did I gain three new classes this semester, but I also embarked on one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I’ve undertaken at Regis Jesuit High School. As a moderator of the Filmmakers Club, I desired to create an opportunity to make a short film from conception to completion with students that shared a passion for filmmaking. With RJ Media Adviser Adam Dawkins (a truly exceptional mentor to me) assuming the role of producer, I acted as a writer and director for the short film now entitled “Creative Spark.” As an instructor of the project, I helped teach students various roles on set including camera operators, audio technicians, script supervisors and editors. The creativity present amongst the student crew was overwhelming, and thanks to their talent and commitment, the project was elevated further than I could have imagined. I don’t think I’ve had a prouder moment than seeing the excited crew surrounded by friends and classmates at the premiere of “Creative Spark.” But by far the most fulfilling aspect of the project for me was working with such a diverse group of students. The crew wasn’t one preexisting clique of friends. It included boys and girls from all grade levels, encompassing all personality types and social circles. Witnessing the teens laugh and bond over a common love of filmmaking despite their differing backgrounds was heartwarming, and at the risk of sounding trite, an educator’s dream.
Shortly after the completion of the film, spring break came and hit me out of nowhere. My life at Regis Jesuit briefly came to a standstill, and I was blessed by the visit of some of my best friends. Yes, my friends “road-tripped” from St. Louis to Denver just to see me. Well, the serene beauty of Colorado and its myriad of unique activities may have played a role too, but please allow me to indulge in conceit if only for a moment. Sharing my life here in Colorado with my best friends was indescribable. Outings included breweries and wineries in Estes Park, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, site-seeing in Golden and skiing at Loveland. I’m truly fortunate to have such a loving group of friends to return home to in a few short weeks.
And in the words of my pal Hamlet, “Ay, there’s the rub!” As it stands at the moment, I will be returning home. Again, hopefully just for the moment, but my immediate future appears to be undetermined. Now, I believe that’s the honest reason behind my reluctance to write this blog. My whole life up until this point has gone according to plan: Catholic high school, Mizzou, Alum Service Corps. But what then…? That’s a question I’ve been grappling with lately, and as it seems, it’s not entirely up to me despite my best efforts to control my future. Between the anxiety of waiting to hear back from graduate school and potential employers, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in a state of ambiguity or perhaps purgatory to use an apt Catholic analogy. Although I’m excited for my fellow ASC community, my uncertainty has been exacerbated by their future plans now being solidified. I feel like I’m the last domino failing to fall into place.
So where do I go from here? Well, I recently heard a joke: How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans. As opposed to worrying about the future, I need to once again take a step back and appreciate the present. This year has been an incomparable experience for personal and spiritual growth. The relationships developed with students, fellow faculty and my community has positively impacted me in ways I could never even attempt to describe. I’ve come another step closer to becoming the man I’ve aspired to be. Although I don’t know where the next phase in my life will take me, I can be sure that the knowledge, love and mentorship I’ve received here at Regis Jesuit High School will help guide me as I continue on my path, wherever it may lead.