Kevin Arritt Senior Column

This place is wonderful. There is nowhere else that would have raised me as well as Ames High School. I hear students bitch and moan about the monotony of Ames. But the opportunity provided by some of the most passionate people and a progressive and supportive community, makes Ames the perfect place for a teenager to grow, learn, mature and become an adult. We all look back on high school differently. I cannot say I particularly enjoyed my four years. Because of this, I worked as hard as I could to ensure that I could go somewhere I would love. This work paid off. But if I had been having a party for four years, then what would be the point? High school provided me a chance to grow and find my passions. I was able to grow by trying different things and having unique experiences. I loved football and loved the weight room, but came to realize that such activities were not in my best interest for the future. I learned about organizing my fellow students with Progressive Club. I learned how to find my own means to my desired ends through our wonderful ELP department. I learned how to study from taking AP tests for classes in which I had no idea what I was doing. I learned to stick up for my own rights when administrators wanted to destroy the trust of the students and bring drug dogs to Ames High. I learned how to deal with people who disrespected me for no reason other than my age and title by trying to fight for students’ best interests when Superintendent Dr. Beyea decided that teachers are an expendable resource. Most importantly, I learned of our common humanity during two service trips to Uganda. Being a teenager is not always fun. I have loved and hated my friends. I have loved and hated humanity. I have loved and hated the facts of life. I have not been able to understand why a majority of my classmates don’t give a damn about the planet on which they live. They don’t give a damn about their country losing its values promised in the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. They don’t give a damn about their own security in an age of nuclear proliferation. They don’t give a damn about the education and equality of all of the world’s citizens, let alone their fellow Americans. Perhaps about what I wonder most is how my classmates are able to not give a damn about bombing and maiming innocent civilians in other countries. I don’t know what I’ll remember most from my four years; will I forget it all? Not possible. Maybe Ames High will just be a speck when I think back in two decades. Maybe I will just remember that I was stressed but grew a great deal. Regardless of my specific memories, the impact that Ames has had on me cannot be questioned. Thank you, all of you. Thank you to all who have helped me and supported me. Thank you to all of you who found yourselves in disagreement with me, no matter how friendly or hostile, as you all also invariably helped me grow and mature. I want to give my final farewells to everyone by addressing some questions that I am frequently asked. Why bother? Why care about writing? Why bother with political activism if it seems there is little immediate impact? Why waste time on something if people don’t seem to listen? Here’s my answer, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut: Many people need desperately to receive this message: “I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don’t care about them. You are not alone.” So it goes.