Senior Column: Renee Elefante

Growing up, I was just your typical introvert: terrified of participating in classroom discussions and talking with my classmates at the same table. I never saw the need or felt the urge to put myself out there, and I wasn’t even confident enough to use my voice.

I spent the first 14 years of my life visiting my strict, intimidating grandfather every Sunday. I would always jump when I had to help set the table, unload groceries and dry the dishes.

Whenever he’d say “Hey, come here a minute,” I’d sharply inhale and walk to him, only to find out I hadn’t shut off the faucet properly. Before every meal, I would patiently wait for him to take his seat before asking him with my eyes, “Can I start eating?”

In elementary school, as I sat in the car with my mom waiting for the bell to ring, a little girl named Elizabeth would walk by and wave to me. I’d sit there terrified, unsure of how to respond, until my mother would smack me on the arm and say, “Say something!”

Freshman me was still timid and would barely speak, but after stumbling upon a copy of the Bull’s Eye in Mrs. Kirkeby’s class, I took an interest in the newspaper. After mentioning that interest to a friend, who told her mother, who told another mother, I wound up getting the phone number of a senior staff member. I didn’t even know him, but for some reason, I texted him and agreed to meet up for a tour of the journalism room.

Upon seeing how much the staff was like a family, and wanting to pursue my interest in writing, I signed up to take Journalism 1 the following year. I loved what I was learning from the class, and I knew that it could help me come out of my shell and improve my writing skills, so I filled out the staff application and spoke up in a group interview. Although I’d taken piano, art and tennis lessons for years, none of them ever clicked with me the way journalism did.

During my time on the staff, I have written about the decline of print journalism (and how The Bull’s Eye has been affected) and the college debt crisis, to name a couple. I even had the chance to interview an alumnus, Warren Fu (who directed music videos for Snoop Dogg, Pharrel Williams and other big-name stars) through email, and meet Alephonsion Deng, the author who visited DBHS last semester.

Funny how things turn out. Elizabeth, the little girl who used to wave to me, has worked with me in the News section these past two years and become one of my closest friends. And my 97-year-old grandfather, who I used to be afraid to speak up around, constantly encourages me.

But I wouldn’t have ended up here without the support of my friends and teachers. So, without further ado, I’d like to say thank you to the following individuals:

Mr. Natividad and Mrs. Osajima-Baird: thank you so much for your support and guidance throughout my high school career. It’s gonna be so weird to not cross paths with you on campus and say hi.

Mrs. Cook: thank you for helping me improve my essays in your class my sophomore year. It was hard to see a D- on that first essay and the long purple bracket showing I had too much plot and barely any analysis (oops). But I’m so thankful that you sat down with me during lunch to help me fix my essays.

Mr. Enriquez: Sorry if my acting or even the vlog I made were cringe-y. Those weren’t my best moments in your class, but I really appreciate your support and feedback. Also, I know this year’s sixth period is infamous for that incident, but please go easy on next year’s classes. It’s hard to function when we’re all sleep deprived. :\

Jill, Tori, AJ, Anoushka, Yash and the rest of my friend group from middle school: thank you so much for letting me chill with y’all. I know I didn’t hang out as much as I wanted to with you guys during junior and senior year, but I really miss y’all and I hope we can get together again sometime.

Julia: it’s so crazy we’ve known each other since forever, but I want to thank you for being so supportive of my work and being one of my coolest friends ever. Thank you for all of the laughs over the years, the great food we’ve cooked together (I hope we can cook more recipes together) and for helping me get through our Destination Science days (RIP us)!

Elizabeth and Anika: thank you for being the greatest News people ever. It was so much fun designing the News pages with you, racking our brains for headlines, looking up synonyms on and trying to turn all the red text on our pages black. I don’t know how you guys put up with my mental breakdowns (and the random GIFs I sent sometimes) over Facebook Messenger, but thank you.

Josh and Reyna: I had a blast working in the Web section with you two this year. Although we didn’t have as many videos as we could’ve had, it was fun working on the website and figuring out what order we’d upload the stories in. 

Grace: thank you so much for understanding/responding to all the gibberish in the texts I sent you and being my support system in Mrs. Kelly’s class. Also, many thanks for editing my Opinion articles (the first couple ones were kinda rough, not gonna lie).

The other amazing staff members of the Bull’s Eye: thank you for making rooms 563 and 459 so much fun to work in. It’s always such a blast to hang out with you guys, whether it was at the journalism convention, one of our holiday staff parties or even Deadline Nights.

Stuart: Even though you have already graduated and we didn’t interact much, I can’t thank you enough for responding to my text and showing me around room 563. 

And last, but definitely not least, Mr. List: thank you for being one of my greatest supporters and helping me grow as a person and as a writer. I still can’t believe that I won’t be in your class anymore, but I’m so grateful that I had you as my teacher. I’ll miss you in college! 🙁