Senior Column: Emma Russell


Photo courtesy of Emma Russell '17

I’m loved, supported and have created an amazing world for myself. Within all that was something I’ve been fighting– depression.

With depression, I was without sight, locked in a dark room. What I found was, with a lack of sight, comes an enhancement in your other four senses. So, instead of sulking, or accepting the cards I’ve been dealt, I decided to find what made me feel okay. I did not do this all on my own; like I mentioned before, I have love, support and an amazing world I created. I just needed to dig a little bit to feel, hear, smell and taste it.

Surprisingly enough, school has proven itself to be a wonderful resource. I may be one of the only students who actually enjoyed it to some extent. From plunging into the arts to running cross country to some pretty awesome teachers, it all kept me busy and distracted from the other issues I faced.

Running cross country became a passion freshman year and from then on, I never wanted to give it up. It wasn’t just running; it was the team, the environment, the coaches and every girl there created. As every meet or practice came to a close, a single moment occurred almost every time. When the last person would run the last stretch of the race, every member of every team was there. Every parent, every coach, every sibling, every pet, all watching, cheering, urging the last girl to finish as strong as she possibly could. In that moment, I’d take a couple seconds to soak it all in. To inhale this feeling I never wanted to forget. It was support, love. Everyone sets aside all of their thoughts and feelings to help this one single girl finish. No matter the situation at hand, we all seem to be able to come together in this moment. And that is why I have an endless love for the South Girls Cross Country team. That is where I continuously felt the best throughout high school, surrounded by the many beautiful and kind faces. So, thank you cross country for being an amazing team and letting me feel supported and loved. And Stephen Zaranek, or Coach Z, thank you for always throwing a joke or two my way; you never failed to make me smile.

Another enjoyable part of school was my English teacher Nicholas Provenzano. Provenzano was my teacher for freshman and sophomore year, and since then, he hasn’t been able to get rid of me. No matter what story I am telling him, whether it be funny or some ridiculous complaint, he always listens and he always has advice. But, he doesn’t just give me advice or laugh at my stories with me; he has guided me to be my best self. Provenzano would host local TedX Events, which is an event where speeches are given by anyone who has an idea that they believe is worth sharing. With this, Provenzano would give his students and others within the school a chance to audition and participate, if chosen. My sophomore year, I was picked! After creating, practicing and giving a TedTalk, I saw myself work to my full potential, I saw myself be awesome. Without even knowing it, that was something I needed. If there is one thing I learned from Provenzano, after the loads of advice and coaching on the speech, I can achieve anything I set my mind to. So, thank you Mr. P, for always encouraging me to be the best that I can.

The arts. I want to thank my photography teacher, Kit Aro, for being the person who taught me to see. She has taught me the ability to spot the elements and principles of design and from there, see and understand the bigger meaning behind the simple click of a button. I hadn’t noticed my growth until I was truly engulfed in my own work; I had to bring up an important topic, but also give my own opinion on it. How do you do that? How do you talk about a problem in a photo, but also teach people how you think it should be handled?

The elements and principles.

By playing with line and movement and shape and color, I produced a picture or multiple pictures that provoked thought. They upheld a meaningful concept and with that, I realized I have a voice, even when I’m not actually speaking. Ms. Aro showed me I have a voice, Ms. Aro showed me how to see. I became aware of the power I had from what I thought was easy, or a simple skill. For the first time in a long time, I was proud of being me. Thank you, Ms. Aro, for helping me see I have something to be proud of.

I learned from school to push myself, to be the best version of me, because the benefits are impeccable. My four years of high school were hard and long, and a lot of the time, not enjoyable. But, as I reach the end, all I can say for it is, thank you. Thank you for the amazing teachers I learned from, thank you for the clubs and sports I was allowed to lose myself in, thank you for being my escape, even though I may have dreaded you occasionally.

I’ve grown, my four other senses are heightened, my sight is renewed and I am okay.