Heritage School Valedictorian: The RaceBy JOEL DAVID PROCK, Valedictorian
The Heritage School Class of 2012
I walk up to my coach feeling nervous and uncomfortable. I know he’s going to hate me; everyone will hate me. I’m not sure if I’m ready to face the criticism. How do I phrase this? No more hesitation, I just have to say it. “I’m done with track.”
We stand there in an awkward silence as I wait for his response. “Oh okay,” he says. Did I just do that? I’m really done. I walk away with a sense of accomplishment.
Mr. Davis was the first teacher to show me how to be independent. Until his class there was always somebody there to hold my hand and show me what to do, but not Mr. Davis. He made our class run to the dot tree and do cherry pickers every day. At the time it seemed unnecessary and almost like torture, but I’ve learned that this strange form of discipline placed my classmates and me ahead of most kids that age.
Only two years later we were faced with a new challenge: Mr. Marchman’s class. Everything was different, especially the study habits. Before his class, the words “time management” meant little to me. No longer could I just finish my homework and have nothing to worry about. Now I was forced to study on my own.
This immense responsibility was devastating to my childhood but crucial for my maturing mind. No longer hidden, I had seen the real world and it was not as easy as it once appeared.
As the years went on and challenges were accepted, new obstacles were given. In high school the classes became harder which strengthened the bonds between students and teachers. If a calculus problem was too hard, you learned to consult your classmates or ask Mrs. Comfort. And if biology was confusing, you learned to read the chapter again and then ask Mrs. Lory.
Some of the most valuable things I have learned at Heritage have not been in the classroom but instead outside at cross-country practice. Most of my drive and ambition have come from the encouragement of my coaches. Mr. Marchman and Mary Jayne showed me that the lessons to never settle and to find that last ounce of strength are applicable in so many more ways than just in a race.
If you settle five minutes into a race then people will pass you, if you settle nine weeks into the school year then you’ll fall below your potential, and if you settle for less than you can achieve then you will never be happy. I did not run track this year because I decided not to settle for what makes others happy. After all the years we shared together at Heritage and all the things we have learned, I want to encourage you to never settle for less than your personal best.