- Student Spotlight
In seventh grade, I decided to do cross-country for the first time. Growing up, I never liked competitive sports because I always associated them with pressure, stress, and being mean to others. I was anxious when starting cross-country because I feared that I would perform poorly and that my teammates would get angry at me for bringing down the score.
But practices began, and before I knew it, I was at the first cross-country meet of the season.
The Stanley Clark team got into a huddle at the starting line, all put our hands in the middle, and yelled at the top of our lungs, “Go Tigers!!” A pistol was fired into the air, and swarms of different, brightly-colored jerseys began to blend together to form a pack of girls running and panting in unison. When I started running, I was next to an eighth-grade girl from Stanley Clark whom I had never seen before. She had blond hair in a neat ponytail and was complaining about how her feet hurt.
Across from us, I noticed a small hill and exclaimed, “We better not be going up that mountain!”
She burst into laughter and said, “I wish I could say that we weren’t. By the way, I’m Grace.” We continued at a jogging pace until we got into a forest, but I felt my legs start to surrender to the urge to walk.
Behind me, I suddenly heard an uproar of light-hearted protest from a clump of Clark girls yelling, “Aww, come on, Alexa! You got this! You were killing it! Keep going!” The girls started chanting my name and pushing me along, and I blushed in grateful embarrassment. When we finally crossed the finish line, Grace gave me a double high-five and an extra-tight hug. She made me feel happy and excited even though I hadn’t done as well as the more experienced girls. Our coach, Mr. Hunter, told me that I did a great job and even gave me one of his signature smiles. The eighth-graders were so welcoming and kind, and I really admired how easily they accepted me into their community. They made me want to be like them; I wanted to make my teammates feel happy and enjoy the experience. I saw how the older kids set such an amazing precedent for the rest of the beautiful Stanley Clark community. At that moment, I felt wholeheartedly that competition was not about being mean or beating other people down. It was about being supportive of your teammates and enthusiastic about something you care about. I am so glad that Stanley Clark taught me this valuable lesson.
- Class of 2023