The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Happy holidays from Walden Pond

December has always appeared to me as a month of sharp dichotomies. Its most common image is that of holiday festivities and the familiar Christmas trees, delicately wrapped presents and peaceful blankets of snow surrounding houses warmed by picturesque hearths. However, when the weather gets cold, and the ground becomes icy with frost, it often carries dire consequences for the least fortunate among us.

So, as we prepare for the two-week break that lies in front of us and all of the festive cheer that presumably will occupy that time, let us also take a moment to remember those who may not have the same, joyful experience of the holiday season.

One of the first stories I wrote as a student journalist was on a program operated by the Foundation for Edmonds School District, known as the Nourishing Network. During my eighth grade year as the lead editor of the “Bulldog Brief,” which was the student newspaper run by the journalism club at Brier Terrace Middle School, I heard about the program while reporting on an ASB meeting.

Reporting on the group’s activities, I quickly found out how people in this area will go out of their way to ensure that everyone can take advantage of the beautiful area that we call home. I was amazed at how many volunteers would freely give their time toward a cause so generous as feeding local children who may come from families that cannot as readily feed themselves due to their financial circumstances.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of joining the ranks of these volunteers and giving my time back to the community through the program. As we enter the season of giving, I find it essential to reflect on ways that we can better the lives of others through the donation of our time and support.

Ultimately, the winter holidays are fundamentally about giving back, whether that be to our families, friends, communities or world as a whole. So over this break, I challenge you to think beyond the presents, movies, warm blankets and hot chocolate. Try to imagine how best you can give back to the people who helped shape you, and even to those with whom you may have never interacted.

Extend the spirit of fellowship wherever you may find yourself in the next two weeks, whether that be at home, with family or anywhere in between.

For all of us, winter break represents a time when we can take a break from all of the noise in our lives and focus on what we fundamentally value. Without the constant threat of impending school work, tests and extracurricular activities, we can recharge our batteries while also taking some time to reflect on the year as a whole and on the potential challenges and triumphs that lie ahead.

However, we should not pass this time in idleness. The reprieve from the bombardment of school activities gives all of us time to reflect on what we truly value in our lives.   

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In Walden, leading transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau notably wrote that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” even though they live amongst plenty and without material want.

Now, what does that mean? I’ll admit that upon my first reading of Thoreau last year in Peter White’s AP English Language and Composition course, I found the subject matter far too abstract to resonate within my being. Sure, it sounded profound, but could something written by a nineteenth-century transcendentalist who decided to live in a log cabin for two years of his life have relevance in the modern age of interstate highways, electronics and the internet?

As it turns out, the writings of Thoreau and philosophers like him are perhaps even more relevant now than when they were first written. Even as our society becomes even more prosperous on the surface than when those words were laid down on paper in a cabin near Walden Pond, the same spiritual and philosophical hunger which Thoreau so astutely described remains. Paradoxically, gaining more possessions often seems to make us more confused about what truly matters.

I find it particularly appropriate to ponder this concept during the holiday season, a time that has become filled with consumerism and material desires. It is pressing that, rather than give in to the materialism we found pushed continuously upon us, we find ways to be grateful and content. After all, greed is the very antithesis of the holiday spirit.

While I love the tradition of gift-giving, it is crucial to maintain our focus on the “giving” component of the endeavor. While I enjoy receiving gifts as much as the next person, I find it is far more gratifying to focus one’s attention on the action of giving back to the friends and loved ones who do so much to support us throughout the year. In a way, the holidays are a way to acknowledge all of those who we rely on to stay sane, happy and healthy.

So, go out and live a life that would make the transcendentalists, and your conscience, proud. Figure out what you really value in this life and then hold on to it with every fiber of your being. And, on a more light-hearted note, have a break filled with merriment and joy. I can’t wait to see what our supportive and loving community will accomplish in 2020.

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About the Contributor
Nolan DeGarlais
Nolan DeGarlais, Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in-Chief Nolan DeGarlais is in his senior year of high school and is a fourth-year staff member of the Hawkeye. This year, Nolan hopes to lead the Hawkeye in coverage of all of the events that have the potential to impact the school community. Nolan also hopes to further develop the Hawkeye as an editor and a leader by helping other staff members to be successful in all aspects of journalism, including writing, graphics, photography and design. Under his leadership, Nolan hopes that the Hawkeye will continue to shine as one of the top student publications in the state and nation. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, watching movies and spending time with friends.
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