2016 senior columns: Leaving a mark: Lauren Rocca

Finding myself through the things I love most


Lauren Rocca leaves her mark on the wall outside the EHS-hub, May 11.

I failed my freshman year with a 4.0 GPA.

I did not fail academically but socially and emotionally.

As a freshman, I attended Ursuline, a wonderful place for some, but not the place for me.

I was the epitome of looking perfect from the outside while feeling worse than ever.

I had straight A’s in honors courses, danced at a nationally-ranked studio and found myself with few friends at the end of the year.

So after a year of exhaustion, depression, uncomfortable decisions and countless conversations with my parents, I decided to transfer to EHS.

I had never been to a public school.

I had never been to a school exceeding 500 students.

I had never been so terrified.

And to this day, it is the best decision I have ever made.

I took a leap of faith knowing that I probably couldn’t be any unhappier somewhere else than I had been my freshman year.

I decided to try out for Golden Line after tryouts were already over, even though this made my chance of making the team slim. I emailed Ms. Kara Mueller, Golden Line coach, a video of myself performing the different skills on the tryout sheet.

And I made it!

I remember tearing up (less than my mom but more than my dad) at the message saying she wanted me on the team. Little did I know my life was about to change for the better.

In addition to dance, I have always loved writing, so I signed up for The Hub, not knowing that it would change my life, too.

In all honestly, Golden Line and The Hub saved the person I knew I was my freshman year but couldn’t quite get ahold of.

The year I transferred, I decided to fight for the girl I lost while trying to be perfect.

And I found this fight could only be won out of my comfort zone with a positive attitude.

Three times in my high school career stand out to me. All were unexpected moments when I felt a piece of me fall into place.

My first football game:

I remember performing at my first football game and having goosebumps the whole time I was out on the field. After we danced, I ran over to my dad and said, “Oh my gosh. I feel like I’m in a movie.” And my dad said he’d been waiting to hear something like that for over a year.

With happy tears in my eyes, I looked over to movie-like scene, with cheerleaders, Catpound and Friday night lights shining onto the field. I pulled myself together and ran back to my friends. My friends.

My first interview:

After a year of exhaustion and hating everything, it was hard for me to be accepting of other people and myself. I was judgmental toward myself and others, honestly without realizing it.

Luckily, we had a practice interview for our first assignment in journalism. Mrs. Elisha Strecker, journalism teacher, randomly assigned people another student in the class. I got the seemingly snarky and overly-talkative person.

However, his story changed me forever. I found out that he knew that he came off as annoying and snarky, but he didn’t really care what other people thought. He was just being himself.

Not only that, I learned about his background, his family life, his trials and his triumphs. I learned that he had been bullied for so long that he no longer cared what people thought, that his family life was complicated and most importantly, I learned that he had a story.

That moment of insight changed my perspective on people forever. I no longer made judgements on a person until I knew his or her story.

Two-and-a-half years later, some of my best friends were met through interviews and The Hub staff.

But the last story will forever be close to my heart. I think it represents my high school career to a T.

Dance camp:

Over the summer, all the Golden Line seniors try out for All American, an award given to dancers who successfully memorize and execute a dance for a medal, sweatshirt and opportunity to travel with the company.

I practiced the dance a lot, and I executed it over and over. However, when it came to the actual performance, I blanked out and messed up in front of everyone.

I was not an All American while my other teammates were.

While I felt I had failed and let everyone down, my coaches called me over and talked to me about it. They then pulled out a Mardi Gras beaded necklace bent in the shape of a medal and said, “You’re an All American to us.”

Of course I teared up. I also realized that this team and who I was would always be more important than an award I got.

Fast forward to the end of the year… I was wearing a dance state champion medal, one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

But the medal I still have hanging on my car mirror is the Mardi Gras beaded one, reminding myself that failure makes a fighter out of me.

I fought for the person I am and everyone else has, too.

The Hub and Golden Line made me feel like a part of something, like I could do something that was worth something. Whether I was dancing with my friends or writing about my opinion, I felt like I had a purpose.

It’s easy to feel small. It’s easy to feel that nothing I do makes a real difference.

But throughout my high school career, I realized that my voice matters.

After my first opinions column on social media, I received countless direct messages telling me how much that article helped them. I realized that a lot of people had the same opinions as me, it was just that no one was saying them.

The Hub helped me find my voice. Dance helped me find myself.

I went from a fake medal to a state-champion medal, from a judgmental, somewhat friendless person to a person with a bunch of wonderfully-weird friends and from a new, scared girl to a Prom Queen.