Dear Charles Wright
This year’s graduating Yazi Scholars write letters to CWA
The Carol Milgard Endowment for Community Service, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound (BGCSPS), affords the full financial need of two newly enrolling eighth-grade students at CWA. This award is known as the “Yazi Scholarship,” and the awardees are our “Yazi Scholars.” Every year, these scholars—chosen for their leadership in academics, the arts, athletics, and their communities—gain access to a CWA education for a brighter future, all because of the generosity of Carol B. Milgard.
The Yazi Scholarship was named in honor of Gary “Yazi” Yazwa, former president and chief executive officer of the BGCSPS, whom Carol B. Milgard admired for his work with youth and the community.
Below are the remarks given by our two graduating Yazi Scholars, Jade Cooper and Ren Cruz, at the annual Yazi Scholar celebration.
I stand here before you with only nine days and 12 hours until my Charles Wright career ends, not that I’m counting. But let’s talk about when my career here began, 1,370 days ago, August 28, 2015. Now, I won’t say that I remember it like it was yesterday, because honestly, I don’t. But what I will say is that Charles Wright has definitely changed my life. My first year here was probably one of the hardest of my life, for many different reasons. The first one being that I was adjusting from a public to a private school, so the homework load was a lot more than I was used to. The second reason was while I was adjusting to a new school, my mom had her 17th brain surgery, so I also had to play the role of her caretaker. And the third reason was that I was just starting the eighth grade so I was learning who I was as a young girl, so basically it was a lot that year. But through all of that, I quickly experienced the loving community that is Charles Wright. I remember that the faculty took turns making different dinners every night for my mom and me while she was recovering from surgery. And it was from that moment that I knew that this community was very loving and supportive.
Charles Wright and I have had some good and some bad times, but that is life—nothing is perfect. As I reflect back on the last five years of my life here at Charles Wright, it is crazy to believe that I am no longer that eighth grader complaining about going on Beach Hike or that tenth grader going on Outdoor Ed. I’m sorry, but I am not a huge fan of camping or hiking. Although those trips definitely pushed me far out of my comfort zone, I am thankful to have had that experience, because I learned more about myself and I got to experience the beauty of the PNW. Here I was provided with more than just an education; I built many great relationships with teachers and friends that I will forever cherish and I am so thankful to have. I have lots of great memories here with a lot of great people.
I am so thankful to be a Yazi Scholar and to have both Charles Wright and the Boys & Girls Club as my families. Both of these families have helped me with the other: The Boys & Girls Club has always helped with anything that I needed when it came to CWA, and CWA has been there supporting me at my Boys & Girls Club events. I loved seeing my two families come together to help celebrate the woman I am becoming, and both of them play a big role in who I am today.
Life here hasn’t been easy, and I was faced with obstacles that I was not prepared for and that I did not imagine that I would have to face, but I am glad that I did because they only made stronger, smarter, and more prepared for the world. So, as I am on my final stretch before I graduate from high school and prepare to take on the next four years of my life in college, I want to say thank you to both of my families, Charles Wright and the Boys & Girls Club. I want to thank all of my teachers for helping me through the years and being more than just a teacher, my godparents for always being there, cheering me on, and my mother for being my biggest supporter and my rock. Without you none of this is possible. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in my life—friends, teachers, staff—you all are appreciated.
Hi everyone. I’m Ren. First off, I would love to welcome our new Yazis into the family! And thank you to all of you who made arrangements to be here tonight. When writing this, I had no clue how to start or what to talk about because there is just so much I would love to say. So, I promise to at least try not to drone on.
Being completely honest, before coming to Charles Wright, I had mixed feelings toward the change from a public to a private school. Most of my worries stemmed from the fact that I was unsure if I wanted to leave all of the friends that I had known since kindergarten behind. I was always a shy kid and had never been a huge fan of change. But, looking back, I am so glad that I took the leap of faith and decided to come here. As you all know, it is a process to get in and to be chosen to be a Yazi. But, I promise, it is beyond worth it.
Being a Yazi gave me a gateway to talk to upperclassmen, which was an experience that boosted my confidence in my own ability to reach out to others. In my second year at Charles Wright, a senior and fellow Yazi came to me, and we quickly became close friends. They had introduced me to my love of ukulele, the joy found in theater, and the ability to be friends with other grade level students. In fact, they also helped me while I wrote this for you all. So, that just goes to show that the relationships you make here will last a lifetime.
The community here at Charles Wright is the thing I love and value the most. Within the huge family of the school are even smaller families and communities. For instance, the bond you make with the students you go on a hike with, in eighth grade and in tenth grade. These experiences of three to four days out in the wilderness are just absolutely amazing and really bond individuals, even if it is a little daunting to go backpacking for a few days. Or doing sports, if it is for a year or all of your years here, you do make a connection.
I was able to find a family with my cross-country team—specifically, my cross-country sisters that I know will be there for me going forward in life. My time here was full of many instances where I was pushed to try new things and explore my interests, such as being in a five-person musical when I thought I had signed up for a class to sing acapella covers every day. Or being asked to do One Acts (which are student directed, written, and acted short plays, by the way) even though I am by no means a theater kid. Weirdly enough, I ended up loving it and did it every year.
The biggest opportunity Charles Wright and the Yazi Scholar program offered me was my sophomore year trip to Japan. Prior to the trip, I had taken Japanese for two years, and being in Japan was beyond intimidating. But without that experience, my confidence in the language would have never grown as rapidly as it has. Thirteen days in Japan, a weekend with my host family, who are now my family forever and continuously ask me on Facebook to come back, and the full immersion in the culture and language were beyond incredible, and I hope to go back someday. I guess it’s time to stop talking about the extracurriculars for a bit, right?
Classes and teachers. They are ridiculously amazing, passionate, and driven individuals who are always there to help when you have the questions. My favorite class of my junior year was Intro to Psychology with Ms. Coleman. I had previously known that I wanted to go into the study of psychology but had never had a chance to really experience it and make sure it was what I wanted to do. This class simply made me fall in love with the subject even more. And it also helped me narrow down my interests for my own career path to child and developmental psychology. On the other hand, this year, I was asked to choose some additional academic classes to balance my schedule with my two art classes. I ended up choosing one of my advisor’s classes: web design. Definitely not my thing. My thing had always been creative writing. But computer science? In whatever shape or form was just not me.
So it was definitely a surprise when I found that I truly loved the class and what our class referred to as “playing.” It was a newfound creative activity for me, and although frustrating at times, it was a class I don’t regret taking.
I have had so many experiences while here at Charles Wright. The good, the challenging, the eye-opening. I hope to take them with me, in my memories, to the next chapters of my life. But before I do that, move on to the great unknown, I would just like to say, thank you to Charles Wright for accepting me into your community and making my time here amazing. Thank you to the Boys & Girls Club for being the foundation to this program and for continuing it despite some minor bumps in the road. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, who believed in me since before the beginning, in both sixth and seventh grade pushing me to be set up for success. Thank you to Mr. Chissoe, my trusted advisor, who kept me on track and gave me a kick in the behind when I wasn’t on top of things. You were always there to listen when I randomly dropped by your office to rant, check in, or tell you good news. And thank you to my parents for making it work, supporting me every single step of the way and all of my endeavors that I chose to challenge my time with. And to the rest of you Yazi Scholars, enjoy it while you can without hesitation or reservations, because you don’t realize how fast time will pass until you are almost done with your time here.