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FINISHING STRONG

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WC senior reflects on a simple message with a profound impact

When asked what element of a WC education has had the single greatest impact on her, senior Jessica Malony has a surprising response: it started in first grade. Since her earliest school days, there was one particular message that she heard from Principal Jim Parrish that struck a chord with her. Since that time, she has heard the same message many times. Around midterms and finals, before time off like spring break, heading into summer, the same message has been delivered time and time again. Now, as she finishes her senior year in the midst of a global pandemic, this very message that she has heard for over 12 years is taking on a much deeper level of significance. That message? Finish strong. Read in her own words how fundamental this principle has become to her:

I can only assume the WC faculty and administration started teaching us to “finish strong” at such a young age because they wanted it to stay with us. Most chapels toward the end of each year, Mr. Parrish would bring up the topic if not as the lesson, as a closing reminder, probably to try and keep us all “in the game” despite being antsy about summer. I’m not sure it held much weight to me when I was younger, but it was always a way I got myself through the end of the year, whatever that meant.

In elementary school, this message was an encouragement (although sometimes a nuisance) because it just meant staying present and engaged even when I would rather be somewhere else. In middle school, it gave me a sense of responsibility that started to drift into my non-academic life as well. Whatever I did, I wanted to be able to walk away knowing I did my part to the best of my abilities. Sometimes it fueled my anxiety because my expectations for what that looks like can be too high, but it also helped me to let go of things that I couldn’t change because I knew I finished strong and I didn’t just give up. Whatever happened, I had given it my all until the end, even if sometimes I may have taken that concept a little too far. The same ideas carried over into high school, in and out of my academics. 

Outside of academics, the fact that finishing strong was a core concept to me had a positive impact as I started my first job. Rather than giving in to the temptation to cut corners or just trying to get away with the bare minimum amount of effort, I stayed until the job was done and done well, which brought promotions and pay raises. In regard to my high school academic experience, the phrase helped me finish each year, even when I may have had every reason to not finish strong. 

Now that I am finishing my secondary education in the middle of a global pandemic, I would say I am even more grateful to have been taught to finish strong. At this point, it’s just about the only reason I am continuing with my schoolwork. Between senioritis and a general overarching distaste for online schooling (not to mention a looming sense of hopelessness), finding motivation is near impossible. Yet I have a deeply ingrained need to finish strong, no matter how much I don’t want to some days. Academically that means putting in the work– studying for tests, participating in classes, actually reading the assigned books, contacting my teachers proactively. In a more daily sense, it means living even on the days I don’t want to–getting out of bed, cooking a healthy meal, showering, reaching out to friends, balancing a split home, and keeping on top of doctors’ appointments. My goal is to go to bed each night knowing I did something and did it well no matter how much I didn’t want to do it. I can achieve that goal more readily because of the people at WC that pushed us to put in the effort and do hard things, to finish strong. They must say it because they know we’ll need it.

May we as the WC community–staff, teachers, administrators, parents, students, and the Class of 2020–take this simple message to heart. In spite of countless challenges, unexpected changes, and unknowns, may we finish strong, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

[Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of May, we will be honoring WC’s Class of 2020. Stay tuned to the school’s website and social media accounts to join in this ongoing celebration of our seniors.]

(Images provided by Creative Moments/Brian Shindle)

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