How my years at GHS helped me grow


Autumn Jessee

On the left is my first day of my senior year. On the right is the first day of my freshman year.

My high school experience has not been the typical ‘movie’ experience. I have had a relatively calm four years. I have tried to be as involved in the school as I could, and my goal for my time at GHS was to keep straight A’s. I am part of theater, Book Club, journalism, Beta Club, Chess Club, FBLA, SCA, Forever Golden, and I was part of Art Club my freshman and sophomore years. Being a part of all of these activities have enriched my high school experience.  

As I am preparing to graduate, I have been looking back at all the ways I have changed over my high school career. I feel like I have become a more confident person. Journalism and theater are the cause of my growth in this area. My teacher for both theater and journalism have helped me to find my voice.

Sydney Pennington and me at our sophomore year Forensics competition.

Freshman year I was in a play called “Not So Grim Tales.” This show was a retelling of three fairy tales. I played Snow White in the play, and this role was the first I ever had. After I performed several times, I lost my fear of public speaking. Giving presentations and reading in class were easy and I didn’t dread doing them anymore. Theater has given me a family: the friends that I have made during the seven shows I have done at GHS. These are memories that I will cherish.

The cast from “Not So Grimm Tale”

I have been a member of GHS Press since my sophomore year. This class has helped me become who I am today. I was forced to get used to talking to students that I didn’t have anything in common with. This class has helped me to make friends all throughout the school and with every group of people. If not for this class, I wouldn’t have branched out and made friends outside of theater. 

There are staff members at the school who have helped me find myself throughout my time here. Mr. Jason Hayes, or Coach Hayes, Mrs. Libby Metcalfe, Ms. Beth Tinsley, and Nurse Brooke Plott.  I have had daily interactions will all of them throughout my high school career. Coach Hayes has been my teacher since junior year, and I have him twice a day this year. Nurse Brooke has been the best school nurse I have had, and I am so thankful that she came to GHS my sophomore year. I have had Mrs. Metcalfe as a teacher every year I have been at Graham. Last, but on least is Ms. Tinsley, she has been my teacher since 7th grade, and I will miss her greatly when I leave Graham. She has been a guiding force in my life for so long, and without her I would be lost. I have her twice a day this year and most days I spend at least an hour after school at practice with her. 

Coach Hayes said, “I believe that you think more outside of the box with school and with your perspective of the world. You see more options available from other people to make better decisions. You care about your work but have learned to have better management with school work,” when asked how I have changed in the two years he has known me.  Coach Hayes has taught me how to handle real world problems and how to be financially smart. I will miss him when I graduate. 

Autumn Jessee
Ms. Tinsley and me on opening night of Suessical the Musical.

Having type 1 diabetes has been a challenge, especially trying to manage it while going through high school. Everything affects my blood sugar, and some days I just want to give up. Those are the days that Nurse Brooke helps the most. The entire school is supportive with my diabetes, but Brooke is the only person that knows my diabetes as well as I do. Nurse Brooke is more than my school nurse though, she is a close friend and a guiding force in my life. Brooke has been a mother, a sister, and a best friend. “You have grown and matured into such a lovely young woman. You are sweet and kind and you think about others. You are going to be an amazing adult one day. You don’t let anything stop you. You take everything as a challenge and you conquer it. You don’t let something as silly as diabetes control you; you control it. ”

Nurse Plott and I dressed up for America Day to celebrate Spirit Week Sophomore year

I can’t give enough praise to journalism at GHS. Mrs. Metcalfe has helped me perfect my writing style over the years and helped me to become a better journalist. This class has forced me to find new comfort zones. I had to learn how to interview people I have never talked to before, and how to get them to open up. High schoolers are awkward and don’t give detailed answers when they are interviewed nine times out of ten. Over my years on GHS Press, I have learned how to turn an interview into a conversation; this is the key to a good interview. Mrs. Metcalfe said, “I have seen a big change in how outgoing you are compared to freshman year. You were more reserved than you are now; you talk to a lot more people. I have seen you take on more leadership roles, as far as being editor of GHS Press and president of Book Club. I think you have found who you are as a person. You aren’t afraid to explore new opportunities. You are ready to graduate and move on.” 

Ms. Tinsley has taught me so much over the years she has been my teacher. She has taught me how to become a decent actor. She has helped me to take leadership roles as a stage manager. She has even helped me improve my dismal singing.  Over the years Ms. Tinsley has said, “You’ve grown in your confidence and maturity. You’ve developed your singing over the years and don’t hesitate to get in front of people to perform. You take initiative and don’t shy away from tasks. You’ve grown into a wonderful person.”

My experience at GHS has been wonderful. I can attribute that to all of the activities I am and have been apart of, and the people that I have met along the way. I have build new friendships and strengthened old ones. I have found hobbies and passions that I would have never dreamed of pursuing.  GHS has helped me find wonderful people and make some of the best memories that I will look back on for the rest of my life. I am lucky to have had such a great support system to help me through the last years of my childhood.