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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

A Letter to an Eagle

Architectural shoot with Coakley Williams Construction.

Gonzaga College High School struck me from the moment I laid eyes on it.  In eighth grade, I walked down North Capitol for the open house and was immediately taken aback when between the buildings of Washington D.C. emerged a football field and a church.  Eagles perched atop the gates of Eye Street watched me as I entered, and by the time the Alma Mater’s thunderous conclusion could be heard I was hooked.  Months later, I received that big packet with a giant purple G inside, and before I knew it, I was on my way downtown every weekday for school.

I am aware that the path to Eye Street isn’t a uniform one across the board.  Some kids have it in their blood and have been waiting to go to Gonzaga since their brothers, fathers and uncles did years before.  Others are new to the school and just felt a connection when they shadowed.  A few don’t even want to attend and are only coming to comply with the wishes of their parents.  Whatever situation you’re in, finding a way to enjoy Gonzaga and make the most out of your four years is very achievable.  Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a current student, you may be nervous or unsure about your future here on Eye Street, but as a graduating senior, I can tell you that it is most definitely a life-changing experience and worth your time.

To start, it is important to know that your first month or two may be pretty rough.  Entering a new social scene, taking the Metro to school and adhering to a new curriculum all combine for a pretty overwhelming experience initially.  I remember how shocked I was when Mr. Sampugnaro gave me a C on my first essay and how nervous I was that most of my friends from middle school weren’t in my classes.  I eventually created new friendships and my grades went up.  It was just a matter of adapting.

Another huge piece of advice I can give is to be open to growth.  As you will learn, or maybe already know, growth is one of the tenants of the Grad at Grad and a huge part of embracing Gonzaga.  Be open to new friends, new clubs, new sports, new ideas and even new failures.  By the time you graduate, you won’t be best friends with the kids you came into the school with, and your opinions and ideas in general will have likely shifted as you mature and grow.  You will make mistakes and probably get in trouble at some point, but it is all a part of the process.  Take it on the chin and learn from it.

As an underclassmen, try your hand at everything you can.  The club fair at the beginning of the year is a great place to start and sports teams are easy to join.  I didn’t have any particular interests going into Gonzaga, but after trying a few activities, I found my place in rugby and the newspaper.  Many people do much more than that, but getting involved is no trouble at all.  As a pretty unathletic person, I can admit that I was nervous about trying a new sport, but I can confidently say that getting to play under the lights for the rugby team was surreal, and the people I met while doing it are some of my best friends to this day.

Outside of school, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Most people don’t know each other and are open to meeting new kids.  Go get food at Union Station after school, go to a football game, go do your extra credit at a museum together and go hang out by the capitol on an early dismissal Friday.  You have a unique opportunity going to school in the heart of the nation’s capital, so take advantage of it.

Finally, the most important thing is to savor it all.  Maintaining a good GPA, taking enough AP’s and keeping up with your class work are all important parts of high school, but don’t forget to have fun along the way.  Some of my fondest memories at Gonzaga are from walking between classes and dying laughing in the library.  

There will come a time when you can finally sit in the front row bleachers during football games, a time when you know the names and lives of the men who frequent the McKenna Center and a time when St. Al’s feels like home.  When you get to that point, you will want to look back on your four years and say confidently that you lived life and didn’t just work through it.  Take advantage of the service opportunities, go on retreats and participate in clubs and sports.  Eye Street is a place to grow and you can only do that by making sure your plate is full every day.  Gonzaga has all the tools you need to succeed, but you have to be the one to pick them up.

I remember my last day at Gonzaga, but I don’t remember realizing it.  Live each day to the fullest, and always remember that attending school on Eye Street is a privilege, not a right.  You earn it each day when you show up and embrace the knowledge and opportunities around you. 

Hail, Gonzaga!




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  • M

    Mr. CannonMay 14, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Very cool. Comprehensive and well written. Thanks!

  • L

    Leslie KeiserMay 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Your line,” I remember my last day at Gonzaga, but I don’t remember realizing it.” resonates a lot for many of us. Thanks for it.