Experiencing more than just a class


Erin Astfalk '21, copy editor

It’s crazy to think that I was once the girl four years ago who was filled with curiosity and hope hearing high-schoolers talk to my eighth grade class about joining Tower. I remember being so intimidated by them, the sophisticated and smart high-schoolers that were responsible for keeping Grosse Pointe South informed. Now, as I approach my last days as a Grosse Pointe student, I have never been more proud to reassure that nervous and unexpected girl I was in eighth grade that I was a successful cog in the machine of South’s publication.
Every student knows that first day feeling, that feeling of such anxiety that even doing the most normal thing is too embarrassing to ever recover from. Well, when sophomore year me walked in room 144, I will never forget the tsunami-wave size of humiliation when I dropped and spilled my water bottle, creating an ear-splitting and deafening scene of chaos. I slugged into my chair, hoping to suddenly gain the superpower of invisibility. Except after just a few days in class, I recognized how different journalism class was from any other. Surrounded by MIPA awards and old issues hung on the wall, every inch of the classroom had personal anecdotes of the students on staff. It felt less like a classroom, but more a comforting sanctuary to flee too after hours of logarithmic functions and navigation through the periodic table.
I think Tower was more than a class for everyone, at least I know it was for me. I’ll be honest, I originally thought I would last one year on staff before becoming burnt out, but here I am writing my senior column. I can say without hesitation Tower offered me a community and safe space that you can find nowhere else, introducing me not only to the most sincere people and my love for nonfiction writing. When I saw the fascinating topics the Tower tackled at the first story sign up, I felt so ecstatic that the paper actually catered to the students. The brilliant minds behind the story topics always inspired me with their ability to completely hit the ground running when it came to taboo teenager topics.
As the time comes to turn our tassels and reflect on all of the moments that seem straight out of a coming-of-age novel, sometimes I catch myself feeling bitter. After all, I lost half of my senior year. But as I look at who I’ve become and all the pivotal memories in life I would never have experienced in an alternate COVID free reality, I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness and joy. This particularly peculiar senior year not only gave me such a more mature and balanced perspective of life, but showed me the hard way how fast life can completely be turned upside down. Although, I’ve never felt more prepared or excited to begin a new era of my journey, I will leave South teary-eyed and indebted to every student, teacher, and person who cultivated that uncertain young girl into who I am when I walk across the graduation stage.