I wouldn’t change a thing

Michael Sugerman

As a ninth grader on the Spectrum, I wrote a monthly column called “What Grinds My Gears.” I still get jokes about it, which is only to be expected given that the subject matter fluctuated from siblings to dog poop.

In my “Final Rant” for the Spectrum, I wrote about multiple “gear-grinders,” grumbling about fun-sized candies, procrastination and the fact that I didn’t have my driver’s permit yet, among other topics.

However, buried in this immature list of complaints veiled as an opinion piece, there was one profound gem that is all too applicable to me now as a senior: I expressed that I was anxious about heading over Coldwater Canyon to the upper campus.

“I am not a big fan of change,” I wrote. “I have grown accustomed to and love the middle school campus. I have also enjoyed becoming friends with my teachers. And now I have to leave that all behind. I have some familiarity with the upper school, but not nearly as much as the middle school. I will miss it dearly.”

In a week, I will graduate with the Class of 2013 and history will repeat itself. Three years later, change still isn’t quite my thing, and this time I won’t be traversing Coldwater to attend school; I’ll be flying into Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Despite my qualms about leaving Harvard-Westlake to enter a freshman class pool that is nearly seven times the size of the entire upper school student body, I’ll do it with an open mind, thanks to this school.

Perhaps the most important lesson I happily sponged up as a student here was not something taught in the classroom; rather, an unspoken approach to education that enticed me to come to Harvard-Westlake in the first place – nurture pre-existing interests and don’t hesitate to pursue new ones.

This mantra is why I tested the waters on the water polo team as a seventh grader and on the swim team as an eighth grader.

It is why what started as fulfilling the arts requirement in seventh grade landed me in Eastern Europe with the Chamber Singers six years later, performing in Haydn’s Concert Hall one night and on Bulgarian national television the next.

It is why my love for writing led me to the Spectrum and later, the Chronicle, both of which ignited a passion for journalism in me that will likely drive my plans for the future.

Finally, it is why the idea of getting myself involved in college does not daunt me.

I’ve got so many to thank for this. My parents for sending me here; the countless teachers who, with immense volumes of patience and expertise to offer, helped mold the 4-foot-7, hyper-talkative seventh grader into the student I am today; my friends who put up with my hit-and-miss sense of humor and will have to keep doing so for a long time to come.

This community has been so perfect for me. Was it ever obnoxiously competitive? Sure. Did the struggle to balance my academics and countless extracurriculars ever land me face-down on the hypothetical, cold concrete? Oh yeah.

The thing is, at the end of the day, all of that negative junk just doesn’t “grind my gears,” because everything else made the experience more than worth it. I wouldn’t change a thing.