Jada’s Senior Reflection



Jada Hallman, Editor-in-Chief

Every year for the past four years, I have seen a different group of bright individuals leave the journalism classroom and embark on whatever adventure that lay before them after high school. For them, there would be no more tedious article logs, no more prewrites and no more Escalante nachos. They had to write their last story, their most important story yet, and say goodbye to The Zephyr. Now, as weird as it sounds to say that I’ll be graduating in a few weeks, it’s my turn to write my last story for West High. 

I’ve written for The Zephyr since I was a freshman. Upon entering high school, I struggled a lot with my self-image and confidence and found it hard to believe in myself when I was well aware of my own weaknesses. I was a little too much of everything all at once- too young, too loud, too emotional to name a few- but really I still had no idea who I was. Freshman Jada was a handful of clay, a mix of all of the leftover playdough colors, waiting to be pressed and pulled and shaped into the beautiful, successful woman I so badly wanted to become. Over the past four years, I’ve completely transformed as a writer, an athlete, a daughter and sister, a leader, a friend and as Jada. I learned that the reward of stepping out and trying is way more valuable than retaining pride through dodging potential failure. High school was just that: closing your eyes and jumping all in, ignoring all judgments or doubts or second-thoughts. And I absolutely loved it: I joined the cross-country team despite being the asthmatic slowpoke in the back of the pack, I stepped up to be an editor despite being an underclassman, I performed in the Homecoming Court despite having two left feet and I applied to (and got into) the college of my dreams despite being scared of the probable and impending rejection. In the past four years, I learned that sometimes destroying the walls that protect you from rocky paths can open up your world to something captivating and worthwhile. 

I am beyond lucky to say that I will be leaving West with the very best memories, and I think that is one of the reasons why leaving it is so hard. I have to leave behind me the teachers that inspire me, the friendships that fill my heart and the place that molded me into the young woman I am today so that I can tackle the next expedition that awaits me. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to West and the people here who have transformed my life without melting into a lake of tears. So instead of saying goodbye, I want to say thank you. 

Thank you to my parents and sisters for always loving me. Thank you for giving me the ladder and just about everything else I needed to reach for the stars and thank you for catching me when I fell short. I’m so grateful to have been raised surrounded by so much love and hope. Mom and Dad, Jazzy and Janessa, thank you. 

Thank you to my teachers who encouraged me to never take my foot off the pedal. Your teaching and guidance paved the path for me to fall in love with learning. You’ve always made me feel intelligent and capable of accomplishing whatever dreams I dreamt up in my head, and I am so grateful to call you my friends. Mrs. Escalante and Mrs. Duff, thank you. 

Thank you to the friendships I held onto from years before West. Your kindness and love comforted me more times than I can count, and I knew that no matter what I could always run back to you for support, laughter or even just a familiar face. Paul, Danika, Sam, thank you. 

Thank you to the ones that entered my life after I came to West, the people who met me with open arms and sweet smiles and so much love to give. You only brought sunshine to my world and I am truly blessed to have felt the unconditional love of your friendships. Cheers to a rekindled friendship formed before I knew my multiplication tables, to racing beside my best friends on the cross-country course and to the many times I’ve cried tears on your shoulders over a disappointing test grade, a gut-wrenching laugh or how lyrically genius Cardi B’s new song is. From football games spent screaming and movie nights spent laughing and study nights spent stressing, from supporting each other to the very end to cherishing every second we have together (because God knows we don’t have many left), I am so grateful to know you guys. JJ, Hannah squared, Isabel, Leana, thank you. Ethan, Sumeer, Andrew, thank you.  

Yesterday, I submitted my enrollment response to Stanford University, the college I will be attending next fall, and though I am excited to tackle the adventures of my future, I will never forget my time spent at West, the memories I made and the lives I’ve encountered. I know I have so much more ahead, but looking back, the journey of high school has felt like a lifetime in a split second. Without West, I would’ve turned out to be a completely different Jada, and I love the Jada I am today. I’m proud of the Jada I am today, and I can’t wait to show you guys what I do next. 

See you in the archives, 

Jada Hallman