THE STORY SO FAR…
I’ll Be Over Here

Ally Russell, a Scripps Ranch High School senior, is our writer for the 2015–2016 school year. She shares her thoughts about SRHS and life as a teen in our community. Ally is founder and president of the school’s Women in Literature Club and copy editor for the yearbook. She titles her column “The Story So Far…” because high school is a time filled with so many firsts. She says that while high school is a time for change, she realizes that she and her peers are just beginning their lives.

 

On the sidelines of every game-winning touchdown, in the stands at each pep rally, and in the background of all major events on campus are the yearbook photographers, capturing and recording student- body memories. These are the memories that will become the quintessence of our high school careers. In ten years while, hopefully, you might not remember failing that biology test or even most of your class lectures, there will be that single, defining moment that will be preserved as the rest of high school falls away.

As an editor of the school’s yearbook, I feel like I’ve been part of capturing many students’ defining moments, whether I’m behind the lens while they belt out the highest note during their solo in the play or am asking them to recall the experience to transcribe in the yearbook. This class encourages students to become flies on the wall, there to record and immortalize memories that will live on past graduation.

There is a tremendous sense of pride in having your own “golden” moment in high school, but I think that after my time recording so many other students’ memories, it might be more validating to be a part of someone else’s. While I didn’t realize it until recently, after working on two yearbooks over my high school career and putting the finishing touches on this year’s edition, when I see students during passing periods, I most often recognize them by their stories I’ve helped record.

That boy over there had an electric guitar solo at the rally. See that girl? She was in charge of the lighting for the school’s dance show. I pride myself on uncovering stories, sometimes the game-winning point but more often the moments that are overlooked but no less significant.

Reading over every caption and story in our yearbook—checking for grammar mistakes and absorbing the stories along the way—I’ve invested a large part of myself in other people’s journeys. These moments, frozen, cropped, and printed, bind individual stories together. To be a part of that, I think, is incredibly humbling.

Looking at our own lives, it’s difficult to see how connected we truly are, especially during senior year when we are all on the cusp of beginning our own journeys. The yearbook, which prides itself on covering students of all backgrounds and grade levels, is a printed mosaic of individual stories. Like a quilt, which in its entirety is notable because of its many patches, what links us to something larger than ourselves is how we coexist and how our stories often overlap.

Lives are defined by the moments we experience and the stories we have to tell. Stories have the potential to link individuals of exceedingly different backgrounds, and, as a writer, I am always in pursuit of those with stories to tell.

The other day, after submitting the final pages of our yearbook, I saw a girl during passing period headed my way. I distinctly recognized her because it had taken us a record one-and-a-half months to figure out this girl’s name. A photograph had captured an intimate and wild moment where the girl is doubled over, laughing so hard she looks out of breath. The photo ended up being the largest on one page, but we couldn’t finish the page until we found her. We probably talked to the entire sophomore class trying to identify this girl.

After it all, when I saw her so casually during passing period after scouring for her face for weeks, I couldn’t help but meet her eye and wave. To my surprise, she smiled back, even though I am confident she’d never seen me before.

Did she know how difficult she had been to track down? Probably not. Even so, I thought this was a very singular encounter. An experience that I really only saw through the lens of my camera had connected my life with that of someone else, whom I only knew for that moment, and it opened a door I’d never discovered before. I think there is power there.

A dedicated creature of habit, the path I walked was quite narrow, defined only by my experiences and those I knew. Walking along my path today, I see windows I’ve never seen before. These windows, the click of a camera lens, captured a single significant moment in someone else’s life, and in the process, linked us all to something larger than ourselves.

The path I travel now has expanded to encompass each individual I’ve photographed, each living a life as hard as he or she can. The path that I travel is different now, and sometimes different is good.

Ally Russell, SRHS Senior