OPINION: “Thank you, Next”

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by COOPER TINSLEY

My name is Cooper Tinsley and about one year ago, my life changed forever. I was an eighth grader. Fourteen years old, straight A’s, a member of the National Junior Honors Society, Media Arts and other clubs.


I had just recently been elected as class president and considered Mr. Ryan Haughey, the middle school principal, my “best friend.” I had regular meetings with him and other administrators. Life was good. Then one night I had an epiphany. I was so freaked out that I felt sick.


I realized that I was going to high school, and I didn't want to. I had so many good relationships with students and staff. In just two years, three teachers had a profound effect on my life.


Ms. Day. The sweetest person someone could ever meet. My favorite teacher in seventh grade. She taught not only life skills, most of which included math, but how to be a kind and understanding person. She recognized my strengths and weaknesses-- and noted my weaknesses more than my strengths. This helped me become a more well-rounded person, which I am forever thankful for.


Ms. Staub. She taught me graphic design, which I use almost every day, but also leadership, service, creativity and business. When I was in her class, we never stopped working. Towards the end of the school year, we were busy before, during and after school working to make the “last luau” a perfect goodbye for all eighth graders. She left a lasting imprint on my life.


Mr. Capin. Out of all of the teachers I have had, Mr. Capin was the most impactful, most supportive and most interesting teacher I’ve ever had. The first day in his classroom was probably the scariest and most awkward day of my life. We made eye contact about 20 times. By the end of trimester one, I learned something that I never thought I would: he's actually a nice person. Then came trimester two. I had already learned so much about history, but I had no idea what was coming. He taught me about the “black marks” of history, life, rights, wrongs, politics and empathy. When the time came for me to run for president of the future freshman class, I made my poster, which he made fun of in the supportive way as he always did. When I won, we had a conversation I would never forget. One of many to come.


As the last day of school drew near, I wasn't ready, but I had no choice. Then, the night before, we had eighth grade awards. Mr. Capin gave a speech before announcing the Principal’s Award. He said that the two people selected gave him hope for the future. He said that they worked harder than anyone he knew and that he was inspired by them. Then he announced Deliah Flora and Cooper Tinsley. That night I knew I wanted to go into politics because he inspired me to do so.


The last day of school came and I was as ready as I would ever be.


I went into high school thinking I had peaked, which sounds crazy to think about now, but I was actually nervous. I was mostly nervous that I would not find any teachers that would impact me the way Ms. Day, Ms. Staub and Mr. Capin had.


I was a freshman. A frosh.


I was happily surprised.


This year, I had 14 different teachers influence me, and I find that it's interesting because all of them had just as big an impact as my three middle school teachers.


Mrs. Wheeler, Mrs. Harbison, Mrs. Caulfield, Mr. Riopelle, Mr. Russell, Mrs. O’Brien, Ms. “Chelsea” Stephens, Mrs. Reineking, “Chi” Allen, Mr. Grubb, Dr. Sherman, Mr. Sterling, Mrs. Scheidler and Mrs. Gibbs. Every single one of these teachers made my transition to high school not only healthy, but also fun and inspiring. That inspiration has let me do the same for others, and I can not thank my teachers enough for that.


Teachers don't always get all the credit. Not to get political, as with most of my pieces, but they deserve all the credit.


This year I have been so blessed to have teachers, friends, administrators and mentors that supported me every step of the way. I am truly excited for the next three years.


To my teachers: You all afforded me the opportunity to run for class president again and to be a part of the ACTS program. You gave me the courage and confidence to speak up for what is right and just. You gave me the opportunity to write this story and express my voice in a way I never have before.


I am elated to say that I have not peaked—I’m just getting started, and for that, I thank you. Now, onto next year.

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