For Valedictorian, Going Home Won't Be the Same
Amy Lee will return to Chicago for college, the town she grew up in for 10 years before moving to Chatham, but she knows the city and the people she knew will have changed in the last four years.
When Chatham High School's 2012 valedictorian packs her bags for college, it won't entirely be like leaving home behind. In some ways, it will ll be like coming home.
"I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago for 10 years, and I moved to North Carolina my freshman year, and then I moved here for the rest of high school," Lee said. In the fall she will begin classes at the University of Chicago.
Though she will return to familiar territory, college still holds the same fears that it does for most people. "I've never been away from home for so long," Lee said, and she admits she is a little nervous.
Still, Lee says she's looking forward to it. For her major, "I'm thinking of economics," she said.
Before school starts, Lee's family plans another move, this time to Pittsburgh, Pa. Lee's older sister will remain in New Jersey to attend medical school at Robert Wood Johnson.
Moving so many times might have affected Lee, but she appreciates the opportunities that have come out of it. "As a teenager I guess I could play it up and say, 'Oh, moving around sucks so much.' But it really wasn't. I got to meet so many people in different regions of the US."
As a volleyball player, Lee used the sport to help break the ice in new places. "Volleyball gets you in touch with your team, then you go to school and you have someone to sit with at lunch."
In fall 2011, she served as a captain for Chatham High's volleyball team, when they lost to Parsippany in the first round of the state tournament. "We had a young team. A lot of the members were on JV last year, and I think we did good for being so young."
Lee started playing volleyball in fifth grade, and moved to club volleyball in eighth grade. "I just liked it a lot, and when you like something you practice a lot, and the more you practice, you become better."
And the better you get, the more you like it.
"School is like that too, along with parental expectations," Lee said. Lee said she likes school, and while her parents had expections of her, they were "never too disappointed if you don't reach them."
Lee said she was able to manage her own schedule. Her sister was in college and medical school and her father sometimes commuted long distances for work, and Lee said, "I got attached to my mom. She's a lot like me actually, and I think that's why I get along so well with her."
Lee describes her mom as a "classic cheerleader," but says she didn't attend all of her volleyball games. "I usually told her not to come, because sometimes she can get a little too into it," she said.
In high school, Lee was lucky to find classes and teachers she enjoyed. "I liked my psychology class, and I liked my English teacher," Lee said. "I took calculus last year and I really liked my teacher, Ms. Scerbo. Math is a pretty dry subject, but she made it fun and understandable."
Lee also studied Spanish in high school, which she hopes will be useful later in life.
When she heads back to Chicago, Lee will reach out to friends she had when she lived there. But she knows it won't be the same.
"Being four years away from home doesn't seem like a lot," she said, but "people change at home, and you change," she said. "When I go back, it's not going to be like going home. First of all, a lot of my friends will leave because they're going to college. There's also culture change," from living in the south and the mid-Atlantic.
"It's not going to be like going back home. But at the same time, I wouldn't really want that. It would be too nostalgic," Lee said.