The voice of the student.

Ray’s Reflection: Aveia Dussias

My first two years at Marco Island Academy were spent in the trailers, until we eventually moved to the new building for my junior and senior year. The trailers were such a special experience to be a part of since no other school was like it. Because it was so different, it did not actually feel like I was going to school, it just felt like an adventure.

 Freshman year, we were sent into lockdown during spring break, and never returned to school until sophomore year. “Going to class” online and seeing my friends through a computer screen really changed how I look at and value my own life. I became even more grateful for the life I have and the location where I live. While learning felt somewhat difficult and artificial, this time period made me so much closer to my friends. Everyday, a group of us would stay in our own call all together, from the time we woke up for first block, throughout every class, to late at night. I would not have such a tight bond with these friends if we did not go through this experience together, since a lot of my good friends now are the ones who I was talking to every day then. 

Sophomore year, when we finally got back to in-person school, things still did not feel “real” because of the use of face shields. It felt odd looking at everyone through the scratches and fog of my breath on the plastic screen in front me.

Moving to the new building felt like transferring to a different school. High school was already such a big adjustment from middle school, it felt like the same transition having to learn where everything was and getting lost all over again. There were also more students coming to the school. While it is a beautiful school and I feel so lucky to have been a part of one of the first grades to be in it, I found myself missing the comfort of the trailers.

I am so thankful for all of the teachers I have had who’ve not only had an effect on my education, but have shaped me into who I am now. Being such a small school, I have had the opportunity of having my favorites for multiple years for different classes, growing alongside their guidance. They care so much about their students and form strong bonds with every one of them. Teachers like Mrs. Galiana, Mr. Scalia, Mr. Eder, Ms. Mahan and Mrs. Koch are some I will never forget since they have had so much influence on me and my choices for the future. I also could not be more grateful for our principal, Miss Scott, who has been like a mother to me. This school has had such a great support system and actively works for every one of their students to succeed. 

You change so much over the four years, it is just so exciting to learn about yourself and explore new interests. Fashion changes, music changes, hobbies change and it is amazing looking back and seeing how much I have grown. I have found/deepened my love for all my passions during high school, music and painting being large ones for me. Each era of high school has a different soundtrack I associate with it depending on what I was going through and listening to at that time. Now whenever I listen to that music, I get to reminisce. As I was maturing, so was every artist I listened to, so I felt like I got to grow alongside them. High school has given me so many new experiences, both good and bad, that I feel like I now know what they are singing or rapping about, and that I not only can connect with the music and lyrics, I can feel and live them. I went to my first concert in my freshmen year, then COVID took place, and I was not able to go to another until I went to a music festival the summer after my sophomore year. By this time I had a job and money to fuel this new found obsession that has become a part of who I am now. I am thankful for the friends I have had by my side that I could bring along and travel with to share these experiences with. 

I do though wish I was more extroverted in high school. I only focused on school and studying for four years and while it has paid off, I feel like I did not make as many memories that I could have, despite my concerts. I spent so much time trying to get the best grades that I could that I never made the time for much of a social life. I only stayed with my group of friends, but I wish I reached out and made connections with more people. MIA is already such a small school, my class being less than 60 kids, so looking back I feel I somewhat sheltered myself even further.

I also wish that I joined more clubs sooner. While I was in a good amount of extra-curriculars, I did not join a lot of them until my junior year. Interact, for example, is one that I wish I joined my freshman year since I have loved it so much. I occasionally went to meetings with friends who were in it throughout my freshman and sophomore year, but I never regularly attended until junior year. It was so much fun going to a club with such close friends and an amazing sponsor, while still doing good for the school and the community.

The other extra-curriculars that I have joined and actually taken leadership positions have played a big part in my high school experience. My senior year I was elected vice president of Science National Honors Society and I also was Entertainment Editor for The Wave. Both have given me great experiences with commitment and leadership, traits of which I will take with me to college and carry for the rest of my life.

High school has taught me to live for yourself. It’s a cliche, but it rings true, it does not matter what others think about you. None of their opinions matter now, or ever. Do what will better yourself, within reason (as in don’t act selfishly, still respect others). Sometimes you have to let go of people that you never thought you would have to, but this can be a blessing. Some relationships can be unhealthy and you need to know what is best for you and when it is time to say goodbye, but not hold a grudge. With this, I learned to be careful with the people you trust and what you tell them. High school has made me a more reserved person, as in I am now more careful with the information I share with people. I’ve learned that opening up to people is what makes me feel closer to them, so I now know to be careful who I say things to because it is so easy for people to walk out of your life, and when that happens, it will be even more painful if you felt close with them. 

In high school, you make and lose friends. Relationships outgrow each other and that is okay, it is just part of getting older. I am not the same person that I was in my freshman year that I am in my senior year and neither is anybody else, and relationships are expected to change in respect of this. Everybody will have different personalities and expectations, so sometimes things just do not work out. At the time these losses (either with friends, boyfriends, etc) felt like they were the end of the world but when I look back at them in my future, none of it will matter. I will not look back on high school and think of the negative drama that took place, the positives will be what reel through my head. I am a firm believer in the concept that everything happens for a reason, and if it is meant to be, it will happen. So if these people are meant to be in your life, they eventually will find their way back, so there is no reason to get overly upset. 

I am very excited for what my future has in store for me. I am starting the University of Florida this upcoming summer and this school will have a very positive effect on myself and my future. It will open up a lot of opportunities for me through different clubs, internships, and connections I make. While I am saddened by the fact that I will not be surrounded by the same people I have seen everyday since kindergarten, I am looking forward to meeting new people since college is the place where you will make the friends that you keep for the rest of your life. With how connected the world is over social media, I don’t feel like I will drift too far away from those I choose to stay close with. I am also looking forward to my life after college. I’m excited for the freedoms I will have by living on my own and starting my career. I will be able to live anywhere and anyway that will make me happy. 

I could not have wished for a better high school experience. MIA has provided me with every resource that I needed to prepare for college and life as an adult and I am thankful for having the opportunity to go here. Marco Island Academy, as Taylor Swift says, “I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything, but I know I miss you.”

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