The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Senior Column: The One Thing I Learned in Gym Class

Senior Column: The One Thing I Learned in Gym Class

“Hey, I need you to do me a favor,” I told one of my only good friends in my gym class, just days before my final week of being a Cougar.

“Sure, anything,” she said.

“I need you to look out for” — we will call her Katelyn — “for me when I’m gone,” I said.

My friend looked confused at first, but then she realized exactly what I meant.

Let me preface this story by saying that it took me until the very end of senior year to learn the importance of tolerance and acceptance.

You see, Katelyn was what some would consider a “strange” girl. She seemed socially awkward, and although she was extremely friendly and always excited to talk to anyone, she was an outcast. A pariah, just because she was a little different from everyone in gym class.

“I hate gym class so much,” she told me the other day.

She then proceeded to tell me all the names that the girls at school called her, and to be honest, I wasn’t shocked by their cruelty: I know how vicious teenagers can be, but in the end, I couldn’t imagine what Katelyn had been going through since she began high school.

I told her that it was awful what had happened to her, and that she certainly didn’t deserve it. My best advice at that moment was to ignore it, which I’m sure she had already been doing that since the beginning of the year. I assured her that it would get better, but I’m sure it was hard for her to believe that the torture would ever end.

While I have never been the victim of constant or particularly vicious bullying, I know what it’s like to be different. Coming into school knowing hardly anyone was one of the most terrifying things I have had to do. I was afraid to put myself out there, simply because I didn’t want to be that “strange” girl.

And I will be the first to admit that I was, at one point, a bully. Maybe I wasn’t pushing people around or calling people names, but I have occasionally joined in when making fun of someone who was a little different, or at least not stepped in when I saw a person struggling with bullies.

I’m not sure if it was getting older and maturing, or if I just had a sudden epiphany and change of perspective, but this year, I have realized just how important each and every person is in the world. Everyone is put on this Earth to fulfill a certain goal, and we have all been made differently and given specific talents to be able to accomplish these goals.

While Katelyn might not be the “coolest” girl in school, I know she has many talents that I didn’t see on first glance. I only learned more about this amazing girl through talking to her. It’s a shame that I am the only person in that class who talks to her, which is something she brought to my attention last week.

I just want all girls and guys who are struggling to find their place in this school to know that it really does get better. Freshman year was the most troublesome year of highschool for me by far, and, even as a senior, I still haven’t figured it out completely. But before you even know it, you will begin to find a place, and life will get so much easier. It just takes time and patience.

And to all of those who bully or judge, I just want you to know that you can overcome the urge to tear those around you down. It may seem like it’s something you need to do to fit in, but trust me when I say that getting along with everyone and making friends with every person that you meet is so much more spiritually satisfying.

I can’t express how important acceptance and love are in high school. I’m just disappointed that it took me all four years at Northwest to realize that every life is precious, and every person that you know has a story that is worth hearing.

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Senior Column: The One Thing I Learned in Gym Class