Taking the final bow as the curtain falls

Blake Echt Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Blake Echt
Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer

In drama, you have an intermission where the actors and audience can take a break at about two-thirds of the way to completion. Then, after maybe an act and a couple of scenes, the play ends, the actors bow, and the curtain falls. Just keep this process in mind while you traverse this article.

In the summer between high school and college, most colleges have something called an orientation. Some of my friends going to community college sign up for classes online and leave it at that, while others have to travel and stay the night at their university.

I have some friends who have already left for basic training, and others still waiting for their military orders to leave. There’s always some form of orientation that prepares students for their futures (except for trade schools, I believe, but I may be wrong).

At UC Irvine, there is a two-day, one-night program that takes the student through campus and dorm life, with the added fun of running through seminars and workshops all day (and I mean, all day. Like, the entire thing is one giant lecture. I guess it simulates classes and how we’ll feel after them).

Overall, my orientation was a positive experience with some gaping maws for me personally; but I feel that, though maybe a bit overpriced, it was fairly worth going to.

Morning started out like any other beautiful morning after coming back from Los Angeles at 12 a.m. With the sleep I had, I got into my car, forgot to pack some essentials, and drove to Irvine. Traffic on I-15 and I-91 was as traffic always is, except a little better; and I managed to get to the school with 40 minutes to spare.

Maw number one: I couldn’t find the appropriate parking spot, so I drove around looking for some place to park. I couldn’t check the GPS on my phone since I was driving, so I grabbed and paid for a spot in the first lot I found. Turns out I was on the other side of the campus! It was so wonderful and lovely walking in these Vans slip-on shoes across campus.

I got my key and room assignment in Brisa (a freshman dorm for all those just dying to know), dropped off my supplies, and went to the first of probably 15 seminars of the program. I’ll tell you, the information on the first day was important. It’s tiered by major, so you receive only the information specific to you and nothing else.

I’ll also be honest with you, faithful reader, the entire time I felt a bit inadequate. I’m going into Mechanical Engineering, starting out with regular calculus. But many of my future peers are three levels of math ahead of me, which is as astonishing and impressive as it is eye-opening.

Many of my future peers also cleared a lot of credits, which is good for them. But again, there is that whole inadequate feeling. I felt better by the end of the day, but it just dawned on me that I’ll have to hit the ground running this coming Fall

Maw number two had to do with my International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a special college program in high school I received when I completed the IB curriculum. It was two years of hard work and, for whatever reason, UC Irvine did not have any record of my completing it.

Oh boy, did it get exciting there! It was the feeling of a thousand fire ants gnawing and ripping at my arteries, a bloated, irritating feeling of literally my last two years of high school being useless. So, after talking with the staff at the admissions office, who were very helpful and understanding (which is nice, because I was ready to square up with whoever told me no), it turns out that the information had literally just been sent the night before. My units were given and life continued.

Finally, the night came and there were many activities the staffers (student volunteers running the program) initiated that helped bring the hall together. Regrettably, I missed a very important activity towards the beginning, but I participated even more to really learn who my future peers would be.

It was a large self-examination, an experience which I feel I will never repeat unless I become a staffer (which I may actually do next year. Hey, I was touched from the bottom of my heart by that program). I also fell asleep early, but that was an accident. I wanted to stay up even longer.

The next day, I hung around and explored the campus, went to more seminars, and overall enjoyed myself; but it was time to leave. I’ll always remember my staffers, my hall mates, and the new friends I made, and look forward to more experiences when the real thing comes. I’m excited, I really am!

Right now, as I type this, I feel anxious. Like, I feel like the future is uncertain and that there will be problems I’ll be overwhelmed by. But at the same time, I feel like those trials I face will actually strengthen me, and I’ll find out who I am. It’s like in the movies where the hero jumps into the middle of a horde and fights them off in order to see his true power; except, instead of orcs, it’s papers I’ll be battling.

I enjoy challenges, and this next chapter in my life will be beautiful, exciting, exotic, and most importantly, I’m going to enjoy myself! Because that’s what youth is, right?

But in order to move on to the next chapter, I need to close the one I’m on. I can’t be stuck as a teenager all my life and I don’t remember there being a “young adult” column in our paper. So this is it, I suppose, the final article. A spectacular finale that’s so brilliantly bland and secretly blaring out that it kind of jumps out of nowhere.

I’ve enjoyed being a teen reporter, even though most of my friends make in about a week what I made in two and a half years of writing. I enjoyed being a teen reporter, even though I’ve faced some criticism and have been challenged several times on the quality of my writing. I’ve enjoyed being a teen reporter, even though there are times where I was so busy with school work that the only thing stopping me from throwing my computer off the second story was the glass window pane.

I enjoyed it even if all that seems unattractive, because I became a voice for my community. A small one maybe, one that many people probably skipped over. Maybe people used my articles to start their charcoal burners, or to start campfires, or make piñatas.

But in the end, I spoke sincerely and truly from my heart and from my mind, every word being my own (unless an interview, which is obviously not all my own words). And I will never regret a single letter, phrase, sentence, paragraph or article. This was my work and my way to show how much I love my community, my home.

I love all of you; every one of you have contributed to making my article what it is. I love my family and my friends who have supported me this entire time. I love The Friday Flyer for giving me this opportunity. And I have a special one: I love my editor, Sharon Rice, who has guided me and put up with me and forgiven every late article (which, truth be told, most of them were) and helped me ascend to where I am now.

I wish the new teen columnist, Spencer Massicot, the best of luck and fortune (he was my neighbor for a few years actually). My advice: just write from your heart. Every story, mundane or theatrical, is interesting when you tell it; and even if you have some writer’s block, anything you put your soul into is a great article!

Well, I guess if the beginning of summer was my intermission, then this is my bow. “My name is Blake Echt, and thank you for reading!” And all that left now, is the curtain. Feel free to follow me on Instagram at yooying.com/blake_echt.


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Blake Echt