Ian Latta’s senior sendoff


Courtesy of Eli Holstein

Coming to McDaniel was a huge change in my life, but it was one I was cautiously welcoming of, if for no other reason than being able to escape the depths of middle school. 

I viewed high school as an interim period. High school was the limbo between your early teens in middle school and your early adulthood in college. The next four years would prove that high school is not merely a period of pause–but one of great importance–both academically and socially.

Freshman year lived up to expectations without smashing them; I expanded and cemented my social circle, I liked all of my teachers and the classes they taught, and I grew my interests and hobbies to new levels. This was the year where I developed a fascination with history, in part because of my Modern World History teacher. That passion would eventually go on to become my college major and hopefully my career. All of these changes awakened me to the importance of high school as a period of great evolution.

Sophomore year was shaping up to be a slower and more dull but still valuable continuation of freshman year. I took classes like US history with Mr. Gadbow, who is probably the most jovial person I’ve ever met. I also began to engage further in several extracurricular activities, including the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement club (MESA), led by Mr. Fields. Now I didn’t have a clue what I was doing in that club, but it was fun to hang out with other people who did.

Perhaps the most notable development of the year was the move to the Marshall campus; this was a shakeup for sure but proved to be pretty impactful for me.

Then COVID-19 unexpectedly shuttered schools. The rest of March and most of April was an “extended spring break.” I got to spend the next six weeks doing whatever I felt like:  sleeping in until noon, hanging out with people, or doing whatever impulsive thing I felt like that day. After a while, however, the reality of the situation sank in. School eventually sputtered to a partial restart, but the rest of the school year would prove lacking.

Junior year was the year of COVID-19. The year of online school. 2020 was probably the most historic year I’ve lived through, and for many my age, the most impactful. Despite this, for me, it marked a period of stark tedium. For many people, online school saw a loss of stability, for me, it merely created a new, indescribably unwavering routine. Every day I attended the same four classes, did nearly identical assignments, and listened to the same teachers give uninteresting lectures. 

My teachers tried their hardest to make the year interesting, but the limits of the online medium proved too difficult to interest most students. The saving grace of my first semester was getting my foot in the door of the school’s journalism program, although the fruits of this tree would not become as apparent until the following year.

Thankfully, halfway through the school year the semester ended, and I got a whole new set of classes. This singular change energized me through the end of the year and allowed me to push through burnout and finish strong. I also for the most part strongly preferred my classes in the second semester, making it more enjoyable and manageable. The assignments in my AP Human Geography class even beat the odds and managed to be, at times, intriguing, despite the aforementioned limits.

Were it not for the journalism program and Human Geography, my junior year would have been a year of no academic development, as it was for so many others.

Senior year started off with lots of anxiety from everyone. Many people hadn’t been in the highly social world of school for over a year. Others feared the reopening of schools would prompt a surge in COVID-19 cases. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and I’ve been able to enjoy a fully in-person year of school. 

This past year has seen me delve deep into the journalism program, which allowed me to publish some of the best writing I’ve ever created. 

The newspaper has also introduced me to all of the great newspaper staff. My fellow copy editor, Lincoln, has been a great colleague and friend to work with throughout the year. Our chief editors Isaac and Eva have led the fledgling newspaper to a success. Of course every editor played a significant part in the creation of this newspaper, and the community surrounding it. None of this would’ve been possible without the advisor, SB, persisting to create a newspaper of the utmost quality and with a friendly staff to match.

My only regret in this regard is that I did not join the newspaper sooner, although more than anything I’m thankful to have been a part of it at all. 

This past year has allowed me to participate in my all time favorite class, AP US history, thanks in part to the teacher, Mr. Bennon. Perhaps most importantly, it has prepared me for the next phase of my life, attending University of Portland, where I can pursue a major in history. 

I’m incredibly grateful that this year has been my most memorable, and I look forward to life beyond high school.