From the moment freshman-year starts, students are under the eyes of those around them. Faculty, peers, teachers, friends, all with a gazing eye. And while a watched pot never boils, most high school students can say they have grown as a person by the time they reach their senior graduation.

Edmond Chen's yearbook photo. Photo submitted by the yearbook's advisor, James Valente.

For Edmond Chen, Orator for the senior class of 2023, growth has been a key aspect of his high school career. “My end goal is to involve myself in something that will ultimately be bigger than myself,” Chen explained. Involvement is something Chen can certainly speak to, as he finished his high school career as SNHS Historian, YMCA Leader Historian, NHS member, center-forward for varsity field hockey, Team Manager of varsity tennis, and Event Coordinator for his student council.

In the years of knowing him, fellow senior Lyra Gold saw some change in his character as well: “He’s become louder and more comfortable in his element, something that’s definitely deserved.” As his captain in field hockey, she saw some change there, too. “Besides just getting better, he has learned to control all of the energy he has.” They furthered that this directly helped his performance, as he “has always been super fast, but now it’s put to even better use because he’s been able to learn more about placement and stick skills.”

Edmond Chen dribbling the ball down the field during a field hockey game. Photo from The Blue and Gold Archives.

Gold pushed his importance to this team: “Edmond inspired the team to do their best because he was always doing his best.”

“High school is a period where you really question who you are,” Chen noted. “And my participation in these activities with the people involved has left a positive impact on me to become my best self.” That best self, to his own description, is “resilient yet charismatic.” In note of this, Gold described him as “dependable”. Knowing him since elementary school, they confidently detailed, “He’s the kind of person you can always rely on to respond positively or empathetically.” 

Involvements, though, are not all that make up character, and Chen is an excellent example of this. Ranking third in his class, Chen explained that he was “very grateful that there’s some tangible proof that reflects [his] ability to learn… and of [his] unrelenting hard work.” Even though he did not believe himself to be “the stereotypical academic type,” he explained that he put consistent effort in to put his grades above and beyond.

Before the year finally comes to a close, Chen mentioned that he had a few loose ends yet to be tied up. “Of course, I am stressed of having to meet senior deadlines before prom and graduation,” he explained, not able to take a break from the hard work yet. He added that he also has the “additional challenge of maintaining grades until they close.”

To this, Chen described his feelings as bittersweet: “I used to dread coming to school and confronting adversities from the very first day,” he remarked. Now that his time of going to school everyday is coming to an end, though, Chen observed that he will “miss the friends and memories made along the way.” He expounded on this thought, noting that “there’s always been this status quo that I’ve always admired.” 

“I’m not sure if I’m ready to let it go just yet.”

Still reminiscing on his high school years, Chen vocalized, “If I could go back and change anything from my high school experience, I would probably change everything.” All high school experiences come with a whirlwind of emotions: were these last four years spent doing the right thing? Chen furthered this thought: “I’d grow out my hair, fix that one test, improve my public speaking skills, win the state championship for my field hockey team, stop the pandemic, and so much more if I could.”

Despite everything he wanted to have done differently, Chen backtracked on his original thought: “But I have to acknowledge that changing everything that I endured on this long journey would undermine the growth I’ve gone through as well.”

Well beyond his years, Chen used this to explain that he was wrong; he would not change anything about his high school experience, even if he was given the option to. For this thought, he shared some wise words of advice. “Hardship is inevitable and defines our human experience. Even the most trivial of problems is an opportunity to change for the better.” 

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