A few weeks ago, it was officially and statistically determined that William Mason High School is the biggest high school in the great state of Ohio. THE biggest. It is also in the Top 20 largest high schools in America.
No longer a Mason student, I’m down in Tuscaloosa, AL with new faces. I shared this fact with some of my new friends, and they were stunned. Mouths dropped and comments began flying. “The biggest?” // “Woah.” // “Doesn’t that kind of stink?” // “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t imagine that.” // “I’d hate that.”
While some of these responses were frustrating, well, they were kind of expected. Sometimes bigger is considered better, but sometimes bigger is considered plain scary. I kind of chuckled at some of the responses, especially the last one, because here’s the thing. . . I loved high school. LOVED. Straight-up adored it. I loved the school itself, the teachers, peers, students, the environment, the athletics, everything. When I look back on high school, it’s only with a smile.
This isn’t the case for everyone, but I couldn’t imagine my high school experience any different. I had indescribable opportunities at Mason, and I would definitely credit some of those to the size. Sure, being big has it’s downfalls and hardships: you don’t know everyone, it can be overwhelming, there’s a competitive-vibe. But in my humble opinion, the strengths outweigh those. There are opportunities and experiences knocking at every door, a top-notch staff wanting to help you succeed, and classes that you couldn’t find anywhere else.
I had the privilege of going home this weekend for Homecoming. Eight hours and a couple tanks of gas later, I was reminded why I love this city and hold it so dear to my heart. It’s where the beginning of life sits. It’s where kids will grow up, middle schoolers will score their first touch-downs, and where high schoolers will fall in love for the first time. It’s newly graduated students getting their dream teaching job at a top-rated school and newlyweds having their first kids. It’s dads watching their babygirls on senior night, and grandparents watching their son graduate.
Going to the football game made me feel like I was in a episode of “Friday Night Lights”: football, packed bleachers, overwhelming love and support. I was greeted by students, administrators, and most importantly, my family. I looked around and saw faces I’ve known for years and faces I had never seen before. For all those “Mason is so big” comments, might I add: it felt so small. It felt comfortable and close–like home. The air and the aroma brought back nostalgia, but looking down on the field and in the stands, I only knew that for these kids, the best was still yet to come.
I only hope that the current students will realize how good they have it, how lucky they are, and how much God has straight-up blessed that school. Yes, it was be overwhelming. There are days where you won’t know a soul in a classroom, days where the lunchroom is too big to walk from one side to the other. But Mason prepares you. It prepares you for college, for the future, for your life.
Mason will always have some of my heart; I will always fondly call it my home. Whether I’m living in Tuscaloosa, Cincinnati, Hong Kong, or New York, I will always be grateful and proud to come from such a great place. Ratings and statistics will talk, but they will never be as loud as what I saw and experienced.