Pavni Jagpal is a senior at Washington High School and has been playing on the Washington Girls’ Tennis team since she was a freshman. Jagpal started her high school journey by leaving her childhood love of basketball behind in order to branch out and discover more opportunities for herself. When the pandemic hit, Jagpal faced many emotional setbacks such as stress and anxiety. Partly because of that, Jagpal and her family decided to adopt a dog, Neela. Taking care of Neela was an awakening for Jagpal, because it gave her one thing many teenagers don’t have: responsibility. Jagpal, however, does not look at this responsibility as something to be dreaded, but more as something that serves as silver lining in her life. Jagpal finally feels as though “things are getting back to normal.” She has learned to love these changes by proving to herself that one day Neela and her more positive outlook will pay off. “It will help me with controlling my stress and anxiety to make sure that I’m living a happy life. Additionally, I am so grateful for Neela,” she said. Some future advice Jagpal had for herself is to “always be positive and never lose my kindness.”
Now a freshman at Colorado State University Pueblo and majoring in media communications (with an emphasis in journalism), Ashley Tosh has knocked it out of the park. Throughout her four years at Washington, she loved being on the varsity softball team. Receiving scholarships was another important issue for Tosh, and she is ecstatic that she received a softball scholarship to CSU Pueblo. In her sophomore year, Tosh had Mrs. Karantzalis for English, which inspired her to join The Hatchet the following year. As a staff reporter, she served as The Hatchet’s political columnist, which pushed her to run for Editor-in-Chief, which she received.
Being The Hatchet’s EIC during distance learning was “definitely not the year” she imagined since she had to teach a new class of journalists online. By the end though, she stated that she was “proud of the work [they] put into [her] last year.” Tosh’s hard work at Washington paid off when she made it into CSU Pueblo, and she is excited to see where she’ll go next.
Successfully having made her way to San José State University, Anika Shah, a Business Management major and Washington alumnus is paving her way in the world. She described her experiences at Washington as very “debate related,” since she was part of Washington Speech & Debate from her freshman to senior year. During her time in WSD, Anika learned from her coach, Mr. Raskin, how to break out of her shell and improve her public speaking skills. From her extracurricular activities, Shah learned that “Being part of a club or organization is a big part of [the] high school experience.”
Going into distance learning, she lost the senior year experience which all high school students highly look forward to. The transition was both “good and bad.” She felt as though there was very little communication between the senior class and the faculty. Shah felt it was better that her senior year faded away slowly since “COVID was already a ‘slap-in-the-face.’” However, near the end of the year, she was glad that seniors were able to join back together for Grad Nite (a Great America trip) and Graduation. Though her past year was rough and she is still trying to figure everything out, for now at SJSU, Anika is happily “going with the flow.”
Kaitlyn Lagrimas has had an eventful four years at Washington. Starting out her career with acting and literature, she came into Washington as a freshman in Drama 2 with Mr. Koppel. After spending some time improving her acting skills, she became a T.A. for new drama students. Lagrimas described how she “matured greatly over the course of quarantine.” She stated that during the pandemic, she was focused on taking care of herself mentally and trying to change some of her habits. She started to find who she was as a person naturally, and was no longer influenced by others around her. During this time though, Lagrimas struggled with “depression, anxiety, and paranoia.” This prompted her to change her lifestyle and mindset. Her first step in that process was to revamp her room, then she moved on to start cooking and cleaning for herself. She journaled, meditated, and became more interested in spirituality, which helped her contemplate on what she wanted to change in her life. After this period of introspection and reflection, Lagrimas started to notice a change in herself two weeks before her senior year started. She had begun to look at herself in a more positive light, and no longer worried about how she appeared to others. Lagrimas explained that all she needed to realize was “the only opinion of me that matters is my own.”
Washington senior Piusha Pandey started her journey in high school by joining the JV Girls’ Swim team in freshman year. In her sophomore year, Pandey was part of the Robotics Club, and in her junior year, she became a member of the Computer Science Club. Throughout the pandemic, Pandey focused on becoming more at peace with herself and tuning out the negativity of the world. She also started to take better care of herself by getting into new forms of skincare and improving her diet. During quarantine, Pandey developed a love for food and culinary arts. This allowed her to take better care of her body. Cooking was an emotional and creative outlet for her that she described as an “act of self-love.” She made a variety of garlic knots, thai curry, fried rice, and occasionally cookies. Cooking also taught her to be more patient in other areas of her life. She learned not to rush things because while cooking, she realized that sometimes, “slow ‘cooking’ is best.” Pandey described that she noticed changes in herself during quarantine, stating “One day, I looked at my face and saw how much my skin had improved.” Her experiences over the pandemic encouraged her to take better care of herself in her diet and skincare. Now in her final year of high school, Pandey is fully prepared to feel confident in her own way.