Rush to class. Rush through notes. Rush out. Rush to practice, then rush home for work, then rush to bed. Repeat.
It seems like all we ever do at Harvard-Westlake is rush through our day. Students run from one class to the next, clutching books between tight fingers and throwing a quick “thank you” over their shoulders to their teachers, who stay behind in the classroom as the day goes on. And as kids dart to and fro, teachers themselves run mental laps, jumping from class curricula to the tests sitting on their desks impatiently awaiting the colored pens of fate.
With everyone acting as hurried parts of a well-oiled learning machine, it can be hard for us to remember the well-sculpted words of the new mission statement. During times such as Jim Brink’s death, the underlying current of community that ties together the members of Harvard-Westlake becomes clear, and students and faculty find solace in each other as friends united through loss.
This sense of community grounds us and provides a broad comfort. But it should be expanded through all aspects of our lives. While tragedy brings us together and reminds us of how valuable the people in our lives are, the sentiment fades within a few months. That’s not to say that people don’t remember, because we do. But we forget to avoid taking our experience for granted.
In the daily grind, we should take some time to step back and enjoy the moment. The mission statement urges us to appreciate “the joyful pursuit of academic excellence, living and learning with integrity, and purpose beyond ourselves.” If we focus on the English text for its poetic language instead of just viewing it as an assignment to finish, or if we realize that the teacher’s lecture makes benzene molecules sound fascinating instead of just one more topic on the test, perhaps we can find the joy in the daily pursuit of knowledge. Of course grades and excellence are important, but teachers do more than disseminate their knowledge to us. They are having a conversation with us about how beautiful the world and its phenomena can be. But with our busy schedules, it sometimes slips our minds to embrace the joy in learning.
Each of us at Harvard-Westlake has a bigger purpose. Students often focus on getting good grades and attending a good college, but these are still relatively individual focuses.
We are all part of the Harvard-Westlake community, and what makes our school so amazing is how much people care about each other. But in the rush of our day, sometimes we forget to express our sentiments or to thank others for caring. Perhaps our bigger purpose as individuals is to show others how much they mean to us. Since we see our peers, teachers, and faculty daily, we have plenty of opportunity to say we care.
Besides taking the time to thank our teachers and faculty for guiding us through life, we can also remember to appreciate those that support us on our journey: our families and our friends.
The stimulating warmth of a teacher, the guiding hand of a parent and the supportive shoulder of a friend come together to form our support systems. With how much unconditional love we receive from them on a daily basis, we can strive to demonstrate our gratitude for their presence in our lives just as often. A smile and a “hi,” like Jim Brink offered to everyone he saw, can do the trick.