I grew up in Waynesboro.
I went to Fairview Elementary and graduated with the Class of 1996 at Waynesboro Area Senior High School.
When I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in English at Lebanon Valley College, I returned to the ‘boro, thinking it would just be a “pit stop” on my way to becoming a famous reporter like Katie Couric.
That was in 2000. It’s now 22 years later and that “pit stop” has become an extended stay.
I met my husband Chip the summer after I graduated from LVC. I was working as a reporter for “The Record Herald” and he was a social studies teacher at Boonsboro High School. He was also a Waynesboro native and WASHS graduate.
We were engaged three months later.
I remember telling him I wanted to move away from this small town.
He told me if we were going to raise a family, he wanted to stay right here.
He said: Our foundations were in Waynesboro. Our families were in Waynesboro. Our futures were in Waynesboro.
And boy, am I glad we did.
Over the years, I have not only nurtured relationships and friendships I formed in my childhood, but I have also created new connections and networks through mutual friends and acquaintances.
My children have reaped the rewards of having their own, unique relationships with each of their four grandparents. I love watching my girls learn from my parents and my husbands’ parents.
Not only that, it has been a unique experience to watch my girls walk the halls in schools I did as a child and hang out in places I remember frequenting.
To be honest, I have never really given this much thought – in fact, I have often taken for granted the closeness of our family, the nostalgia of our small town, the parallel lives that I sometimes see my girls experiencing, but in a modern (much cooler) way.
It wasn’t until this past weekend that it really hit me how amazing it is to raise your children in the “village” you grew up in.
As a new college graduate, I wanted nothing more than to get out of here – to “make it big”.
Now my goal has evolved into something so much more – to bloom where I was planted.
Not only that, I want to cultivate the Waynesboro area by lending a hand where it’s needed, to encourage not only my daughters in all of their endeavors but to also help empower and support other youth on their journeys.
At the WASHS All School Production over the weekend, I had the honor of helping with ticket sales. I wanted to offer as much assistance as I could to make sure as many people as possible would have the opportunity to see 9 to 5 – to see the fruit of all the hard work the cast and crew put in over three months.
An hour before each performance I checked off names of people who prepaid for their tickets and took money from those who were purchasing before the show.
Through this volunteering, I was able to not only support the show, but I was also able to greet nearly every person who walked in the doors.
I greeted people I haven’t seen since high school there to support their children.
I greeted my daughters’ preschool teachers.
I greeted former teachers I had in elementary, middle, and high school.
I greeted family friends from long ago.
I greeted current students and ones who graduated years before.
I greeted the woman who directed the All School Production when I was in the cast in the ‘90s.
I greeted families whose children have done shows or played sports with my own girls since they were young.
I greeted people I have long admired for being at the top of tgame or who have shown me how to be my own person.
I greeted our church pastor, his wife, and our friends.
I greeted new acquaintances who told me their son, daughter, grandchild was part of the show.
With each person who walked in those doors eager to see the return of the All School Production, I was reminded how incredible it is to be in a town where you feel like “everybody knows your name” and you know theirs.
After the show and in the days following, many of these people have approached my daughter and her friends to congratulate them on the success of their show and on their individual performances – almost as though they saw themselves in those impressionable and idealistic adolescents.
I know I do – I remember what it was like to be that age – filled with uncertainty and hesitation. Sometimes when we as adults take a few minutes to think back on those high school years, we remember how much someone’s kind words of encouragement meant to us. How a compliment from someone could change your entire outlook on life.
Many times, people think small towns are full of gossip and grudges from years past, but I see it differently.
This small town is full of the opportunity to experience life together – to see each other grow and bloom.
It allows us to cheer for one another, to cry with one another, to remember one another, and to help one another.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and while I agree that that’s true, I also think it takes a village to truly experience life to the fullest and to be able to give back to the community who helped you become who you are.