Lifer says goodbye

Pace Lifer Bids Farewell

A young Joe Loughran poses with former LS Principal Anna Valerius on his first day of school, 2004. Photo: Joe Loughran

A young Joe Loughran poses with former LS Principal Anna Valerius on his first day of school, 2003. Photo: Joe Loughran

Thirteen years is a lot of time. Whether it’s spent in a job, living in a city or in a relationship, 13 years makes up a significant portion of someone’s life. For an 18-year-old “lifer” like me, 13 years represents all of my remembered life so far. That means for as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around Pace, a strong rock in a sea of turbulent waters. Familiar faces moved on, with several classmates from Lower School leaving before we ever got a chance to really know them (shout-out to Jasionna Terry). But new faces arrived, eagerly welcomed and accepted into the Pace community as if they had been here for years.

It might be a cliche, but the aspect of Pace that stands out the most for me is the community. In going to a big, public university next year (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, undergrad enrollment of 18,350), the close knit community is something I’ll really miss. Everyone knows what you are going through and reaches out to help or at least says kind words when they can. Everyone rallies around each other, joining together behind the Pace “P.” When our family went through a tough time in the third grade, and later in sixth grade, the Pace community was there supporting us every step of the way.

Another thing that makes Pace special is the faculty. They do a fantastic job of teaching you and helping you learn the material, especially for AP classes. The teachers don’t just go through the motions; they are invested in the material and in the students they are teaching. Ms. Stevens and Ms. Smith come to mind, with the excitement they get from teaching young people about all of the intricacies of history.

Recently, I was at the lifer party thrown every year for those of us who have spent 13 straight years at the Academy. Amidst the students and parents were teachers, mostly from Lower School, who marveled at how big we’d gotten and what colleges we were attending. Over dinner, we all recounted great stories from throughout the years: the fights over girls on the playground, silly fads from our younger years, teachers that we liked the most and other students that left at a young age.

We wrapped up the night with a slideshow, showcasing pictures from throughout our years at Pace. It hit me then what Pace really did for me, how it molded me and made me into who I am today. While I’m ready to move on, as I’m sure most people are, it’ll be a radical change next fall when I wake up past 6:45 a.m. on a Thursday, not having to drive to school to shake Mrs. V’s hand, or go up to Knights’ Hall or the FAC for assembly. I’ll miss this place, but I’ll never forget the memories and friendships I’ve made here. See ya in 10 years, Pace.