From the Editor: Were you ‘just a’ high school student?

Graduations. It’s that time of year again when we celebrate a huge milestone for hundreds of our community members. Much like Milford High School’s valedictorian, Sara Lingo, who quoted several Disney movies during her inspiring speech Thursday night, I am reminded of one of my favorite movies: “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.”

The main female character works in the magic toy store owned by Mr. Magorium. After the owner hired a new employee, she finds herself frustrated with him over his lack of belief in magic.

She calls him “a just guy.”

She elaborated further when the new employee asks her the logical question: “What is a just guy?”

She said, “A guy just like you. Same hair, same suit, same shoes… walks around and no matter what, you think it’s all just a store. It’s just a bench. It’s just a tree. It’s just what it is, nothing more!”

This reminds me of so many defining moments in our lives, like gradu ation.

So many times we’re told that high school is “just a” stepping stone. If I were able to address the Class of 2016, I would tell them that I view my own high school experience as more than “just a” space filler in my life.

The truth is that I don’t keep in touch with all the friends I had in high school, although it’s a little easier now for the newer graduating classes thanks to social media.

I also don’t actually use all the math I had to learn (sorry Mrs. Moore-Adams), but some of it has become quite helpful (thanks all the same?). Let’s be honest, it helps a lot when I attend city council meetings and they’re discussing the budgets.

Chemistry is another class that was rather lost on me. I wish I had paid more attention in those science classes, though, especially Mrs. Heberling’s classes. Maybe I’d have a better success rate when gardening and cooking.

Some things never change.

Besides friends, crushes and other non-academic interests of importance, the things I was most interested in while in high school haven’t changed: music and communications.

For many students, being in the choir was “just a” reason to take an easy class. It was different for me. I made it a priority to move my class schedule around until it was just right so I could take choir every semester.

It was in my blood. Even now, I sing in a band every week. When I had each of our children, I tried to go on maternity leave from the band. I think I made it four weeks with our first born. I couldn’t stand it. After our last born, I was back up there the next week. I just can’t stay away from music.

Communications was another huge area of interest for me in high school I took four years of French, back when Milford offered French courses. Everyone was taking Spanish even then. But I saw new students coming in who spoke Creole, which can be very similar to French, and I thought surely they’d like someone to talk to. I just saw the other day that one of those students has gone on to become a school counselor. Amazing.

I was also very active in our journalism classes (and club, really it was like a lifestyle by my senior year). It was “just a” school newspaper, but Mr. Bloom guided us to award-winning status.

Needless to say, I was determined to help people understand life around them. Journalism is something I have always come back to; it seems to be where I belong.

But I credit all of that to “just a” high school whose administration and faculty saw the importance of the four years they had to continue molding us into productive citizens.

So to the Class of 2016: Congratulations.

You have completed a huge milestone. Never forget your high school roots and what you may have taken out of that experience. You don’t know yet just where those roots will take you.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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