Monday, June 17, 2013

A Reflection On Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace’s blood alcohol level was 0.15% almost double the legal limit. She was driving above the speed limit, without a seatbelt, than lost control of her car and died in a car crash at 4:12 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, March 20th, 2001. While I was navigating freshmen year at Northwestern University, Laura was working through her senior year at my former high school, Mercer Island High School. In response to this tragedy I wrote the following letter that was published in the Mercer Island Reporter about a month later.

I really didn’t want to believe that drugs and alcohol were a part of Laura Wallace’s death.

I am a freshman at Northwestern University and I heard the news from a friend over the phone. I really didn’t want to believe it, but reality crashed down pretty hard on this one.

I can’t claim to have seen the world or to have gained some great wisdom, but looking back at my years in high school, I feel I have a different perspective on all of this. There is a lot of “garbage” that students at Mercer Island High School deal with. What I mean by “garbage” is a lot of the stuff, which seems to exist only to make life more difficult but in reality really isn’t that way. It’s very stressful; the push for excellence is a great thing, but sometimes the push is a little too much for some people to handle.

Through four years of “garbage” it’s very easy to become disillusioned, to just stop caring. I’m not saying that teachers are putting on too much stress, or that counselors aren’t doing enough. I don’t have a clue why things seem to have gotten so difficult. All I really know is that something aren’t quite right.

I want to challenge current students of Mercer Island High School to think about what they are doing with their time in high school, and to think about what they are doing with their lives. It’s easy to take all honors classes, be in thousands of clubs and assume you are on the right path.

And it’s really easy to never go to class and party way too much and feel you are doing the right thing “experiencing” life as a teenager. But neither of these paths really guarantees anything.

There’s too much to lose.

I never knew Laura Wallace, and I’m not saying that if she had questioned her life she would be alive today. Looking back at all my time in high school, watching my friends struggle and helping friends who still struggle, I feel we must try to figure out what the point of high school is.

I believe that high school is a unique time when teenagers start having adult experiences while having their parents as a safety net. What we learn in class broadens our minds so that we have a basis for understanding. And what we learn out of the classroom is when you start to figure out what friends really are.

Don’t let this tragedy go; make it mean something. No amount of revelation can overshadow this death, but it can bring something of it.

Try to figure out what your life means to you. I hope by thinking about it and letting things like this tragedy help me question my own life, I can come to some understand of what we are all really doing here. It’s always easier to look at someone else’s life and see what’s wrong. But look within, because the person who most needs saving might be yourself.

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