Thursday, January 27, 2022

There’s No Lack of Positive Vibes at MIA

Being in a room with five Marco Island Academy juniors, well, they’re almost NEW seniors, was like being in a room of ping pong balls ricocheting off the walls and ceiling; the energy was palpable. The more they talked, the more the ricocheting increased. You might say that this would be true of “any” group of teens, but it was different.

The five, Teagan Havemeier, Marshall Daffner, Lauren DeHooghe, Sean Sorrick and Morgan Jones, weren’t the least bit reticent to talk about their school and the departed seniors. The five described them as being “role models” for starters and never stopped piling on the kudos. Teagan said there was no divide between the juniors and seniors and that they were super-welcoming. (Nods all around.) In fact, that comment could have come from anyone in the group, their rapid-fire enthusiasm prevented me from getting all their names in the right places!

Marshall and Lauren agreed with the others in that the seniors were “always there for us,” and “they wanted us to be successful.” Like what? “They encouraged us in classes and in athletics and didn’t put us down,” Sean and Morgan conjectured that the seniors wanted them to “find themselves, which can be difficult in high school.” Since juniors and seniors shared many of the same classes, they had to interact, pair up, work on projects and study together. After the seniors left about a week ago, the five remarked on how empty their classes felt since there were unfilled seats.  Of course, they had work to complete so couldn’t dwell on the missing students too long!

Sean and Marshall came from other schools either in the district or out of state so didn’t have the benefit of already knowing their classmates. Interestingly, they said that they didn’t feel ostracized, but were included and welcomed with the same positive attitudes from the older students when they started at MIA. They all agreed that “the seniors were friends, teammates and guides and they would be missed.”

I asked, “Who will you really miss and why?” This is food for thought for anyone entering a new school or being in the same school, so pay attention to the traits that your peers recognize in outstanding students.

Receiving high fives figuratively was senior, Vincent Piranio. “We became friends in part because we were a lot like each other.” “He didn’t pay any attention to the difference in our grades.” “We had similar backgrounds.” “I think he recognized that I was kinda shy and looked out for me.” “Vincent was the Salutatorian this year, he was also very smart.” “All around great person and role model.”

Another senior who earned high fives as a role model was Chelsea Casabona who “was always encouraging, especially in the Ethics Bowl competition.” “She is always supportive of others whether it was in class or in athletics.” “She was a very directed co-captain and I learned so much from her.” “She was never afraid to laugh; her laughter would boom out and make everyone feel good.” “When Chelsea entered a class, she brought joy into the room!”

Senior, Josh DeCruz, feeling like he was just on summer break and had not really graduated, had some advice for all the juniors, soon to meld into senior status. He said, “Stick through it, it passes fast. Enjoy everybody and everything.”

Great advice. The time does fly by. Even so, look at the recognitions and awards that the Class of 2018 achieved. They showed that they “stuck with it” and enjoyed it.

Learn more about the MIA athletic award winners and see photos in this issue of Coastal Breeze News.

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