Student Reflections: Maria Shepp ’19

Senior Maria Shepp reflects on the life lessons she learned at St. John's.

It is the end of the school year and the year is finally coming to a close. For some of us, it’s our last year at St. John’s. This means that it’s time to reflect on what we learned, right? I’m not talking about finals or review packets, but instead what we learned about ourselves and others. Every year, we gain insight into who we are, who we want to be and the people we associate with. Who were we this time last year? Who are we now? What changed and why?
As a senior, I can attest to how much a person can change in four short years, especially when nine out of 12 months are spent in a Lasallian setting. It’s challenging - boy, is it challenging - but the education we receive at St. John’s shapes us into the people we are and the people we will be. This doesn’t mean that the stuff we learn directly changes who we are, but rather those who teach us and those who learn with us influence us the most. We learn from the teachers who stay late to help us review, from the students who have the same panicked look when we realize we had homework and even from the people who we see in the halls, giving a small greeting as they pass by (for some, it’s a BIG greeting).
I was asked what my biggest challenge was throughout high school. Without a doubt, I can say that it was finding myself. Coming in as a freshman, I was terrified by the thought of making new friends. Everyone comes into this with some fear, whether it’s making friends, putting in more work to do better in school or trying to get on a team or join a club in our free time. There’s always something. Yet, with each other, we ease into it. We make friends in our classes or take a risk to try out for a team. We go to our teachers to ask for help. Every little action leads us to be a bigger part of our community – a community that works together to help each other succeed. A Lasallian community. 
Every challenge I’ve encountered has been essential to who I am now, even the little things like deciding whether to tell the teacher I forgot my homework at home or just admit to not doing it. Each little decision pushed the metaphorical scales of my character one way or the other. Am I the kind of person to get angry at the group walking so slowly in front of me? Or do I just walk slower because I know I have four more minutes before class starts? Will we choose to act like a Lasallian student, or will we scoff at the world? 
As the heat of summer hits, and we start to dream about our three months of freedom, we need to remember that what we do is linked to who we are. Don’t forget what you’ve learned throughout the school year just because you aren’t at school. When that family is walking so slowly in front of you on the boardwalk, don’t get angry. You’ve got time. And to all the seniors that think that their time is up, well…it never is. Just because this is who you are now does not mean you will be this way forever. Four years is nothing compared to the rest of your life. Make sure to never forget what you learned at St. John’s – not just how to analyze British literature, but also how to analyze your own actions. Are we taking responsibility for who we are? Are we embodying Lasallian virtues? We need to consistently ask ourselves this, no matter who we think we are or who we want to be: Are we Lasallian?