The following article was written by Belmont Hill alum Dylan Hayre ’04. Mr. Hayre returned to campus to teach math for part of the 3rd Quarter.
It’s been over twelve years since I carved it. But, every time I visit Belmont Hill, I go to see my panel. I’m back here teaching for a month (filling in for Mr. Sullivan), and visiting my panel in the Science Building was one of the first things I did after my first day of classes wrapped up. The reason is simple: my panel still defines me. Its staying power as a representation of who I am has far outlasted my expectations. Because of that, I am so glad that I took Mr. Kaplan’s advice as a senior, and actually thought a little bit about how I saw myself as I approached the end of my time at Belmont Hill.
What were my hopes? What were my fears? What part of me would stay on the Hill forever? What would I take with me? These were some of the questions that ran through my mind when I decided what to carve. My hope was that I’d have the chance to take everything I learned at BHS and pass it on, in some way, to future students. My fear was that one day I’d be too old, too far removed from Belmont Hill, to be able to do that. I knew that parts of my heart and soul would always be on campus, in Mr. Martellini’s room or in Doc. Wach’s lab. And I was excited to take with me the things I learned from Mr. Richards and Mr. Greer about confronting challenges head-on.
I ended up carving a scene from one of my favorite books that captured all of this. I carved the depiction of a catcher in the rye as described by Holden Caulfield in that quintessential American novel. The panel depicts me, standing at the edge of a cliff with a rye field stretched out before me. There I am, trying to catch that next wave of BHS grads before they leave the rye field and have to do what I was getting ready to do, myself – what I am still doing: growing up.
To seniors who are now getting ready to start their own panels, from my story I offer this: slow down and think. But don’t just think about what might look good, or what might be easy to carve. Do not worry about coming up with something that says everything. Focus, instead, on carving a panel that says something. Something about who. Something about what you love at BHS. Something about why you’re excited to go but maybe afraid to leave. Carve something that matters – not to your teachers or your parents or even your friends, but to you. Carve that, and I promise that you’ll want to visit your panel because your panel will still matter every time you’re back on campus. And, most important of all, enjoy this process. You only get it once.