Lessons from the end of the road

Andrew Little | Editor-in-Chief

As the clock ticks down on my high school experience, I am amazed by the countless opportunities I have been blessed with at Mason. 

From my role as Editor-in-Chief of The Chronicle to broadcasting countless high-profile athletic events, my time as a Comet has been full of memorable experiences. An unofficial title I still have not gotten used to at Mason High School is that of “sports guy.” My experience with student media at Mason has given me a platform to share Mason athletics with my classmates and the community as a broadcaster and a writer. 

While covering Mason athletics, I had the honor of sharing the stories of many great teams and athletes. However, with my final column as a high school journalist, I find it fitting to share a lesson I learned during my career as a Comet athlete that has been very helpful in shaping my perspective throughout high school.

I ran four years of cross country and three years of track, as well as two years on the swim team. Although I was not a particularly talented runner or swimmer, I can reflect on my Mason athletic career fondly. I had the privilege of being part of some incredibly talented and successful teams, including cheering on my cross country teammates as they brought home back-to-back state championships in 2022 and 2023.

Running and swimming are two sports defined by racing seemingly as individuals, but they have taught me some critical lessons about teamwork. Even though runners and swimmers are not competing together in the same sense as a football or basketball team, they are still working towards the same goal. I may have been racing my teammates along with our competitors, but our goal was to run or swim as well as possible to help the team win. It was never about beating my friends, even if we pushed each other in a healthy competition.

My rankings, times and scores do not define my athletic career. If they did, my time as a Mason athlete would amount to very little from an outside view. Instead, I found purpose in the daily grind of working to improve myself and my team and building lasting bonds with my teammates. My placement at my last cross-country meet was forgotten shortly after I stepped across the finish line, but the lessons I learned in perseverance and teamwork have stuck with me, as have the memories I made with teammates.

That message may make sense when applied to athletics, but many ignore it regarding academics. Now that I have reached the “finish line” of high school, I can confidently say the last four years were nothing like a race. Unfortunately, I have witnessed too many of my peers fall into the trap of turning high school into a race or competition with their classmates. I have also been guilty of comparing my ACT score or GPA to others. I have felt judged for the number of AP classes I took, just as I have judged others for their class load. At a school as large and academically competitive as Mason, it is easy to lose sight of perspective and look at others as an opponent in a race rather than a teammate in your high school experience. The point of a race is to finish first, and your time in high school is meant to be spent making memories, not rushing by. People always say these four years go by fast, and while that is true, some of it can be of our own doing.

When focusing on the rat race of high school, it can be easy to sink into a crowd of more than 3,000 students. There are countless clubs and opportunities inside and outside of our building to pursue whatever your passion may be. More importantly, with a large student body, there are other people to share your interests with. Through The Chronicle, Mason Sports Radio, my athletic teams and youth groups outside of school, I have built amazing networks of friends and supporters to help make my high school experience memorable. It may take time to discover your passions, but your people are out there and worth pursuing.

Through The Chronicle, I have worked to emphasize our coverage of people and their stories rather than searching for accomplishments. Our student body has many outstanding achievements and accolades, but the humanity behind each of the awards or experiences is what is worth exploring. Whether a student has a passion for bass fishing or is among the nation’s best chess players, my goal is that our stories make a large school feel a little smaller and help people better see and understand the kids they share the halls with.

I hope you have enjoyed reading The Chronicle a fraction as much as I have enjoyed producing it with an amazing group of people. This paper has never been about me or our staff members, it is about the amazing people inside this school and community. It has been an honor sharing your stories for the past three years.

I am proud to be a lifelong Comet, and although it is sad to close out this chapter of my life, I know the lessons I learned during my time here have more than prepared me for my future.

My final message to Comet Country is a simple one. Embrace the opportunities and the people you have around you in Mason, because there is more to experience, not just in the number of students, than you can imagine.