In a world of Amazon Prime and on-demand everything, I’ve developed an appreciation for a more primitive mode of delivery — namely the U.S. postal service. Admittedly, I’ve explained to my parents that I believe this “old-fashioned” mail system will likely become obsolete by the time my own children are teenagers. However, the delayed arrival of handwritten messages often builds my excitement, in a way that instantaneous texts never could. And my affinity for the mail explains why I relish the task of hand writing thank you notes. Recently, as I began to look back on my years in Wilton, I thought about all the people who have impacted my life in ways that may not traditionally warrant these cards. Maybe they didn’t buy me a new pair of earrings or a Starbucks gift card for my birthday, but perhaps they changed the teenager I am, the way I think, or the type of person I strive to be. Here’s a thanks to all of you.
Thank you to my teachers, from kindergarten through second semester of senior year. I probably owe you an apology; I really need to work on calling out in class. Most of the time it means I’m engaged. But your wisdom, your patience, and your empathy have provided me with boundless inspiration and room for growth. You’ve pushed me, through less-than-stellar test grades or extensive essay critiques, to think — more earnestly and in different ways. More importantly, thank you for taking the time to make us better — as students and people.
To the faces I see in the hallways each and every day of the week. Whether we share a Facebook friendship or seven out of eight classes, your smiles never failed to brighten my day and lift my spirits, even amidst the chaos of the five-minute passing period. To the friends I have found and lost along the way, thank you for providing me with camaraderie during an important phase of my life. To the new ones who have marked my heart, and the ones I know will never leave, thank you for accepting me with my quirks and understanding the difference between the times I need a hug or just a coffee. As I looked around on college T-shirt day, I was struck by an assortment of futures that are so iridescently bright; please remember me when you’re famous. And as we pack up and ship out to different destinations, thank you for your kindness, your humor, and your impact.
To my parents. Where do I even begin? I probably owe you more than a shoutout in the local newspaper to thank you for teaching me everything I know. The only-child lifestyle has been good to me; I feel like I won the jackpot with you two. Mom, you will always be my best friend, a much-needed realist, and everything I hope to become as a mother one day. Dad, your ability to make me laugh when I want to cry is a great talent and your “coaching,” before a test or from the sidelines of a game, will push me to work harder no matter where I end up. I can’t wait for more “table for three” dinners or family conferences standing around the kitchen island. Thank you, I love you.
And to all of the people I may have forgotten to thank over the years. Thank you to Mrs. Mangan for answering my every college question (sometimes multiple times per day) with a warm smile and cheery demeanor. Thank you to Jim at Connecticut Coffee for starting my order right as I walk in the door —and thank you to those waiting for bagels for brushing off my line-skipping ability. Thank you to everyone involved in group study sessions at the library. Thank you to Dr. Harvey and Mrs. Brey, armed with Tide stain sticks and wise words, for acting as surrogate parents to me between the hours of 8 and 3. Thank you to my basketball coach, Rob Coloney, for assuring me that a eulogy will always be more important than a résumé. Extended family, mentors, friends’ parents, community members, and this little town I call home — all have played an integral part in creating the Maddie Burke writing this article today. So I say to you, simply, but sincerely, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Maddie Burke is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.