Journey to be the best: from Pokémon GO to high school’s close

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Michael Shi

“Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon!”

At the beginning of every Pokémon game, a Pokémon Professor greets you—the new, ambitious young trainer—as you prepare to embark on your journey into the com- plex world of Pokémon. You’re not alone on this adventure either, joined by your rival neighbor and countless trainers as you fight to become the best there ever was, the Pokémon Champion.

Funnily enough, that’s where my high school journey began, sprinting out of the wrestling room after summer PE alongside several of my friends to catch a Growlithe on Pokémon GO. And that’s the thing. As much as high school may feel like a competition, no one’s path starts alone: there’s tons of friends, family, teachers and even rivals that guide our way.

Nor is the path linear. There are weeks when all you’ll do is grind, leveling up your own capabilities as you slog through project after project. But, like making it past the next gym after hours of trashing Bug Catcher Timmys and dozens of Rattatas, the satisfaction of accomplishing one goal after the next is always worth it. Other times, you’ll find yourself faced with unfamiliarity: new people, new experiences, new hobbies, etc.

For me, it was being given the impossible task of creating an impromptu dance to Mr. Horrigan casually riffing away on his guitar. I was just a shy, nervous sophomore who loved math and video games and just happened to find an interest in writing enough to be selected to The Howler. Though the minute of lackluster arm- flailing was quite possibly the longest and worst minute of my life that made me question whether I ever wanted to step back into that classroom, here I am, writing my final article as Co- Editor-in-Chief after two and a half years on staff.

You really just never know where you’ll end up. When you choose a starter in Pokémon (#teamcharmander), you immediately become invested in them, growing alongside them as you train them up from evolution to evolution and taking down trainer after trainer. But along the way, you’ll also find other Pokémon each with their own unique traits that mesh to form your team. That’s how I feel about The Howler: I may have started off in love with math and science but writing articles and discussing ideas with our diverse staff have taught me how to express my interests and passion while understanding others’ perspectives (unless, of course, you pick the grass starter…). As embarrassing as my monkey imitation during initiation was, I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of the constantly evolving family that is The Howler and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to have led such a talented group this year. I can’t wait to see how the paper will evolve in the future.

At the same time, I never gave up on my main interests: two years of rejection from Science Olympiad didn’t deter me from finding my other family during high school. It wasn’t what I envisioned when I entered high school, but it made the last (almost) two years of Science Olympiad just that much sweeter. Every single meeting was an opportunity to make up for lost time and challenge myself like never before. I’d like to thank all of you for embracing me as the “honorary freshman.” I’ll always cherish the friendships I made, as well as the opportunity to prove myself and compete, despite how brief it was. Thank you Catherine for being the best Prime Minister any of us could have asked for and for leading the way with gold medal after gold medal. Thank you to Daniel and Jonathan for dedicating yourselves to Code Busters this year; I’m disappointed we couldn’t bring home the gold but I’m so proud of how far we were able to grow and glad that we could cap off the year by completing every cipher for the first time. I couldn’t have asked for better eventmates. Jonathan, while I wasn’t able to use the 16-digit calculator in competition, I trust that you’ll carry on the legacy next year and dominate Code.

It’s times like now when we’re all reminded of the things we take for granted on a daily basis. We’ve moved on from dashing outside with Pokémon GO to staying home playing Animal Crossing. Time passes by so fast that it’s hard to fathom that I’m no longer the new Pokémon trainer chasing Pokémon, chasing opportunities and chasing dreams.

Perhaps it’s because high school often feels like a blisteringly fast race. But even at the end, there are still the friends, family, teachers and rivals who shaped you into the Champion that you are. So thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my journey for challenging me, encouraging me and supporting me these past four years. And a special thank you to Sarika for being so remarkable to work alongside and for becoming one of my best friends along the way. I hope I’ve been able to make you all proud.

When you become the Pokémon Champion, you’re heralded as the greatest trainer in the region. But that doesn’t mean the journey is over. There’s still more battles to be had and Pokémon to catch. There’s still so much more to explore. When all is said and done, there will still be so much to pass on to the next generation. And maybe one day, years from now, years after your Pokémon career has ended, years after you’ve graduated high school and accomplished countless amazing things, you’ll pick up a cartridge, reminisce and relive the experiences once again.