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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Four years at Gonzaga: A journey of growth and achievement

Lorenzo Limarzi and some of his closest friends at a Chamber Choir event from the winter of 2022. Photo submitted by Lorenzo Limarzi

Over the course of my time at Gonzaga, I have experienced more growth and happiness than I ever thought I would in high school. Four years is a long time in the life of a 17-year-old, and even though time will fly and high school will start to feel like a distant memory, I would not be the person I am today or the one I hope to be without my time here at Gonzaga. Every year at Gonzaga has taught me something different; all of those things have built me into a much kinder, stronger, smarter and just overall better person.

Freshman year taught me about work ethic and confidence. I had a really hard time adjusting to Gonzaga. It was far from home, it was massive, it was in D.C. and it was really scary for me. I was afraid of meeting people, and I was afraid of not getting work done, which meant that I had all my work done on time and I didn’t make many friends at the start of my time here. Over time though, I kept turning work in on time, a habit that has thankfully stuck with me for all four years, but I was able to branch out and grow at Gonzaga. Largely this happened because of freshman retreat where I saw love and support in a large group of high school boys that I never thought I would see anywhere. Come March of freshman year, I was feeling miles more confident than I was at the start of the year, and I couldn’t wait to take on the world.

Unfortunately, the world would have to wait. Covid put my growth at a standstill. Right as I was feeling confident and happy, the world shut down, and I lost everything I had been working towards. Despite this, sophomore year showed me the true community and friendships that Gonzaga inspires. Despite never seeing these people in person, through video games and FaceTimes and texts, I successfully made some of the closest friendships I have to this day. When I did the musical over zoom it felt, and still feels, like a fever dream but the people in GDA still talk about and laugh about it to this day. Sophomore year also taught me about integrity and reaffirmed my work ethic. From home, with my bed 20 steps away, I was able to make it to all my classes, stay safe and healthy and get work done.

Junior year served as a reality check for me. At the start of the school year, I had a girlfriend, I was gonna be on campus again, I was gonna do the shows and I thought I could do anything. And I was a jerk for all of those reasons. I didn’t know it then, and now I still don’t know why I acted like I did. I was mean to my friends constantly; I was a bad boyfriend, son and person. I didn’t even realize it until everything came crashing down when we got back from winter break in January. At that point, I was single again, my friends stopped talking to me and my grades were the lowest they’ve ever been. I was really messed up. It took months, and a lot of hard work and apologies, but thanks to the people around me: friends, mentors, teachers and one or two very important GDA people, I was able to pull myself together and I improved myself by leaps and bounds. By summer time, I had patched up all the relationships that I had destroyed over the first half of junior year. And though saying goodbye to my seniors friends leaving for college, I was excited for what the next year, my senior year, had in store for me.

Senior year was, comparatively, my most normal year at Gonzaga. I didn’t undergo any crazy self realizations, the entire world didn’t shut down halfway through the year and this year I learned how to be an adult and to be a leader. A lot of people, teachers and students alike look up to seniors. They expect them to be mature and to help guide and lead the school. This year, a lot of guidance was needed. The water polo team scandal, the lacrosse team hate crime, the shooter threat, everything that is going on in the world—I know I said this was my most normal year, but that was just in the sense of being at school everyday. This year was insane, and everyday people looked to me to lead. Usually, this was just leading by example. Doing what my teachers and directors told me, not complaining, sitting quietly and waiting for directions, anything I could do to help. Did it inspire others to start doing the right thing? Maybe. Did it help my teacher just a little bit everyday? Yes. That is what being a leader is. 

Being a leader also means that sometimes, you have to deal with annoying people. Mostly in GDA, the adults are in charge of giving directions, and the kids almost always follow them, but just like in the rest of Gonzaga, the seniors are responsible for some things. Having to organize these things, with people being unhelpful or annoying or stepping on my toes was really really challenging. It was the same people constantly that I would have to deal with. I had to ask them the same questions over and over because they never gave a good answer; I had to ask them to back off and let me do things, and it constantly got more and more annoying. Despite this, I was able to power through, and over time, I was less and less annoyed and finished what needed to be done without hemming and hawing. 

Every year that I spent at Gonzaga, I have learned a new set of basic skills that I will need and use for the rest of my life. Confidence, work ethic, community, the ability to grow and apologize, and leadership are characteristics and skills that I will need regardless of what I do in life, and I am very grateful that I learned all of these things at Gonzaga.

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