Lights, shadows, and everything in between

Tommy Pero

Relationships formed at Malvern help me find my way.

I walked into a dimly lit room and ducked under the projected screen on the wall. While among my family and close friends, I like being in the spotlight. That day, I wanted no part of it.

It was September 2013 and my first newspaper meeting. I wasn’t at the meeting because I had an interest in writing or even because I wanted to join the newspaper. I was there because I put my email down at the Activities Fair and was afraid someone would hunt me down if I didn’t show up.

I wish I could write that I immediately found my home at Malvern and a new passion, but that’s not really how it happened.

During that meeting, I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. The first half of my freshman year of high school was a personal struggle of oscillating fear and scarce bursts of confidence. I didn’t know anyone coming into Malvern Prep. I wanted to make friends and find my place, but I didn’t know where my place was or even how to find it.

I was terrified of getting to know people and giving them any reason not to like me. That was the inner me. The outer me is the version of me that everyone knows: the one that’s an extrovert and a leader.

What I failed to realize four years ago that I understand now is that relationships are the most important part of the Malvern experience. Not just between students, but among students, teachers, administrators, maintenance staff, anyone.

Luckily, at the end of my freshman year, an older student convinced me to try my luck again. And I did. Not because I wanted to write or edit or interview or take photos.

I did it because I thought I would enjoy working with some familiar faces for a common goal— even though I wasn’t exactly sure what that goal was

But the importance of relationships and culture doesn’t stop with the newspaper; it’s true for all of Malvern. Malvern’s unity, unitas, brotherhood is what makes it truly special. It is the brilliant, defining feature of the institution.

My first taste of the brotherhood came during my first Malvern Theatre Society show. Because I had some prior theatre experience, I wasn’t afraid take a risk and try out, and it paid off. During auditions and throughout rehearsals and tech week, I felt a part of a community, and that community made me perform better. I began to feel comfortable with spotlights shining in my eyes.

At the beginning of my freshman year, I was in the dark. My future and the path to it were obscured, but taking risks and forming relationships helped light the way. I just had to take advantage of it.

Once I figured out, I began to see a place for myself within the newspaper. I started writing articles and helping the team out wherever I could.

By February of my sophomore year, I was named Arts Section Editor. Despite having a formal leadership position, I wasn’t a leader. I just covered the arts section and put in as much work as I could.

As Friar Life Editor in my junior year, I had significantly greater responsibility. I edited and wrote more articles along with teaching younger reporters. At times, I definitely struggled with the work, but I learned to trust and support others. I knew that they trusted me to do my part and cared about me as a person, so I always gave 100 percent and loved doing it.

When I was named Editor-in-Chief at the end of that year, I felt a tranquil satisfaction— not because I got a position to put on my college resume, but because older students trusted me to step into the light and carry on their team.

I had fun with and trusted everyone I worked on the BFC with. Their trust in me lit my path. I could take risks, be vulnerable, and work on my weaknesses. As a result, I became more confident and found a home.

Malvern is full of special people who helped light my way. It was difficult for me to take the first step in darkness, but I eventually opened up to the great community around me and found a direction.

The Malvern experience and education is incomplete without extracurricular involvement. Never be afraid to jump anything and try it out– but also, fully commit to the work that you care about, and do everything you can to support others in those experiences.

The more you try and struggle, the more you will get out of it. That activity might be right for you, or it might not. You won’t know until you spend the time and commitment. Your brothers and the rest of the people at Malvern will help you find what’s right for you and light your path forward.