This Is Where I Leave You

Ally Russell graduates from Scripps Ranch High School this month. She has written articles for the SRCA Newsletter this school year, sharing her thoughts about SRHS and life as a senior. She heads to college in the fall—to find out where, read her article! We thank her for her time and unique perspective. Congratulations on this amazing milestone in your life, and best of luck on the journey ahead.


Dear 14-year-old Ally,

Welcome to high school. You’re in for an adventure. These will be some of the best and worst times of your life.

The friends you come into high school with may not be the ones you finish with. People will come and go in your life for a reason. It will be really hard, but you’ll get through it and in the end you’ll be happier. Don’t ever be afraid to be alone or do things on your own. This is something that takes some getting used to. Practice letting things go and learn to forgive.

Don’t take hard classes you aren’t interested in, rather invest in your passions. Not everyone is meant to be an engineer or a doctor. Focus on what you love to do and the classes you think you’ll enjoy. Your GPA is not who you are.

When you have a borderline grade, always talk to your teacher about it. Even the ones who say they won’t round your grade sometimes will, and it never hurts to ask. Always let the teachers who have inspired you know that you appreciate them.

You might get cut from a sports team. However, despite what you might think, it’s not the end of the world.

You have a long way to go and at times it will seem like high school is never going to end, but it will. All the good and all the bad things happen for a reason. Those are the things that will make you who you are. Sincerely,

Someone Who Has Done This All Before


This is where I leave you.

If I’ve gotten anywhere in life it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. Oftentimes, I find myself unable to fully dissect the underlying meaning of what I am going through until I’ve written out exactly how it feels to be in my position. It was incredibly surprising and humbling to hear that my experiences, laid out as honestly as I could each month, touched individuals in our community. Every off-hand comment from classmates, remark from teachers, letter received, and message delivered through my mom gave me renewed hope in my unrefined passion for writing.

If this column has taught me anything this year it is that you are never truly alone. Every single thing that you’re going through, from losing a pet to being unsure about where you’ll attend college, someone else has gone through before. There is strength in numbers and this understanding grew along with my gratitude for the community that has done so much for me over the years. This column, labored over every month, and the feedback I’ve been given have been a final show of support that Scripps Ranch has provided me.

When I began writing these columns last September, I feared that no one would read them and even more so that if they were read, no one would relate to them. There’s no way I’d be where I am today if not for the people I’ve surrounded myself with and those who went out of their way to offer the opportunity to reach out to so many people.

This final article was the most difficult one for me to write. Why was it that I felt like I had so much to say, so many people to thank, but was suddenly tongue-tied at the thought of having to transcribe everything I’m grateful for and every last thing I wanted to mention?

I vividly remember my freshman year, terrified of what the next four years might bring. As I am finally finishing this part of my life, I feel like in some ways I’m again starting at the beginning of something new.

The same apprehension about the future is brewing in my chest. I find myself going back to that nervous freshman who, despite what everyone had told her, was sure she was going to get lost on the first day and was terrified of the newfound independence that high school brings.

In some ways, nothing has changed. This fall I begin the next chapter of my life at the University of California Davis with the same insecurity and nervousness as 14-year-old Ally four years ago.

In other ways everything has changed. I can no longer rely on my mom to shake me awake every morning when I miss my alarm or to make me chicken noodle soup when I’m sick. I will have to buy a raincoat for the first time in my life, and I will get to see some trees that aren’t eucalyptus. I will no longer be able to confidently name most of my 500 classmates, many of whom I’ve grown up with since my time in kindergarten.

Unlike the hesitant freshman I was four years ago, I feel confident that whatever challenges lay ahead, I’ll be able to face them with a little more perspective, knowing someone has done this all before.

Ally Russell, SRHS Senior