Contrasting Reminiscences: A Class of 2024 Senior Essay

Lilliana Wald

  • Ballard High School, Class of 2024
  • Post-graduation plans: Attending Western Washington University studying Music Education

The first time I went to overnight camp as part of Prime Voci, I was fresh out of 7th grade with a truly terrible haircut and a volume control problem. I was leaving to live for a year in Australia the next year, so I knew I wasn’t going to be a part of Prime in 8th grade. I was scared out of my mind, worried about not being old enough to hold my own in this intimidating group of near adults, and wondering if they would even like me.

I sucked it up. I smiled, I clung to the incoming freshmen like glue, and I hoped for the best. I realized very quickly into camp that I didn’t need to be worried in the way that I was. Everybody was so lovely and funny and kind, and I realized that all these people were just slightly older versions of the people I was surrounded by in Cantamus. I started talking to the older girls, started being louder and sang out. Jake had to tell me to sing quieter once in rehearsal and commented that it was the first time he had to tell a freshman that.

A couple days into camp, a junior stopped me as I was heading into the bunk room and said so fast that I could barely understand her; “We’re going to the bunker to sing some stuff, grab your music.” Almost on autopilot, I grabbed my music and followed her into the woods. I was one of the last people to be grabbed, so me and a couple other girls sprinted through the fields to get to where the other girls were singing. We got to the bunker and joined the 10 other people who wanted to sing – and I realized that I was the only new-to-PV person there. As freaky as that was, there was no time to dwell on it; Aster, who was a sophomore at the time, started a recording on her phone and put it in the center of the circle that we had formed, and we started singing.

I can’t describe how magical it felt. I messed up on a few notes here or there, but I felt like I was keeping up. I felt, for the first time, the beauty of being able to sing in a way that truly conveyed something, something meaningful and important. I fell a little bit in love with everybody in that room. Most importantly, I felt like I belonged. Those girls, maybe unintentionally, made me feel like I was truly a part of the group. And at that moment, I knew that I was going to be a part of this group for as long as possible.

The next time I went to camp I was an incoming sophomore. I had a different terrible haircut, but I had (for the most part) fixed my volume control problem. I still was scared, however – I hadn’t really seen or talked to any of these people since that last camp. COVID hit halfway through my trip abroad, and we had online choir through my freshman year. But, just like when I was 13, I sucked it up.

As a replacement for the classic Port Townsend day at Fort Flagler camp, we ended up going on a zoo trip. Aster, now a senior, sat next to me on the bus, and we ended up going back and listening to that old recording from the bunker. I cannot convey to you how bad it was. Aster and I almost started crying laughing about how bad it was. It was off-key, and the audio quality was terrible, and it was clear nobody really knew their music. But even though it was terrible, you could still hear, even through the truly awful audio quality, how much fun we were all having. How much it meant to us. And I remembered how much it meant to me.

I’ve spent 11 years of my life singing in this choir. I’ve watched these people around me grow up, become the people they were meant to be. And through all the off-key performances, awkward growth stages, and scary transitions, I’ve always had fun, and I’ve always had a community. I’m so sad to be leaving. But I know that even after I graduate, I will never truly leave this community. I’ll have these people around me, I’ll have the memories I hold so near and dear to my heart, and most of all, I’ll have the confidence that singing with this group has given me. So, even though my time in Prime is ending, I’m not saying goodbye. It’s more of a “see you later.”