When I was a baby, my mom was a student here at Castleton. She was a sociology major, and would bring me to her classes with her. She still talks fondly of professors like Luther Brown and Phil Lamy, who were welcoming to me and would let her breastfeed me in class. In some ways, you could say I’ve been a Castleton student for 22 years.
I didn’t have the average senior year. While everyone knew exactly what they wanted to study when they graduated, and applied to 15 or more schools, had decision days, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go to college. I spent hours in my guidance counselor’s office, and had many conversations with my parents trying to figure out what my next steps were. I was lost, and the only school that I had thought about attending rejected me. I was dead-set on not going to college. But then my mom gave me an ultimatum: get a job and take classes at CCV or apply to Castleton.
Growing up in Rutland, Castleton did not have a good reputation. It was a party school, it was where kids who didn’t have high aspirations go to, it just overall wasn’t a good school. But my mom loved Castleton, and told me it was different than what I thought. So, almost against my will, I applied in April. Thank god for rolling admission.
I remember the day I got my acceptance letter. It was morning, my mom and I were driving to school, the sun was bright. I checked my email, as I do every morning, and saw the email from Castleton. I got accepted. Though I kind of expected it, it literally felt like a weight off my shoulders. My mom hugged me, told me she was proud of me with the biggest smile on her face, and I honestly teared up. For the first time, I had at least some sort of a direction, like the rest of the kids in my AP English class. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was gonna do, but I could figure it out when I got there.
Now, I’m a senior here, and I look back at those memories of a young, 18-year-old, with fondness. Coming to Castleton was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In the second half of my freshman year, I walked into Dave Blow’s Intro to Journalism class. I took it because I love to write, and I thought it would be fun. But little did I know, that the direction of my life would change for the better.
With the first story I wrote as an assignment, Dave told me I had a gift. The second story I wrote was published in the Spartan. My entire life, I never felt like I had something that I was good at. I didn’t do sports, I quit dance when I was 13, I wasn’t smart, I did theatre, but I was mid at best. But finding journalism, I finally felt like I was good at something. Journalism was mine.
When I was a sophomore, I made it my mission to be editor of the Spartan by my senior year. I worked my butt off, and though there were times where the Spartan absolutely drove me crazy, there is nothing I loved more than doing it. Now, my time is coming to an end. This is my last issue.
The Spartan has been my greatest friend and worst enemy for four years. Long, grueling hours, expectations, miscommunication. The Spartan is not perfect. But seeing an issue on the racks and knowing that I contributed to it, and people coming up to me and telling me that this is the best the Spartan has ever been, has made every tear, every sleepless night worth it.
In the beginning of my senior year, I thought about how I could make a lasting impact on the Spartan after I graduated. I worked with SGA to get new equipment for the staff and office: new computers, cameras, recording devices. I thought that they could remember me that way.
But then I realized, the greatest impact that I could ever have is on the people who show up to meetings, who write stories, who design, that put in effort into this paper when they don’t have to. I hope they had fun while doing it. I hope they look back on my emails, the meetings, and remember me as Aris, the editor. The editor who they could turn to when they were struggling, the editor who signs every email with “love you,” or “xoxo,” the editor that Dave talks about, the one who drove him up a wall, the editor that loved the Spartan more than anything. Then, I know I made my mark.
I wish the best of luck to Sophia, Lily, Hannah, Justin, and the rest of the staff next year. Thank you to the Spartan for making my four years worth it, so that when I look back on my time here, I can look back with fondness.