Finding my voice: a senior reflection


Rocco Mancilla says goodbye to The Caravan and Mt. Carmel.

Coming to Mt. Carmel, I only knew five people.

They all came from my grammar school, Bridgeport Catholic Academy. As a freshman, I was very timid and shy. My confidence wasn’t the best, and I kept to myself most of the time.
During freshman year I played football as a wide receiver. I was far from perfect in the sport, but I always tried my best to fit into the team and make the most out of things. Every day at the end of practice we would run full sprint gassers up and down the field. I remember coming home with my legs sore and tired.
But one positive consequence from this was meeting a friend I still have until this day, Rory McQuillan. As a freshman, it was hard getting to know people, and Rory made making friends and talking to other people easier.
In my sophomore year, I was still shy. I didn’t talk to a lot of people except Rory and the guys I knew from my grammar school. In March of my sophomore year, COVID-19 started spreading. At the time I didn’t see it as a big deal. Then I saw on the news that the death toll was increasing significantly. During that year I participated in rugby, but the season was cut short due to COVID-19 which halted my interest in the sport altogether.
As I transitioned from in-person learning to online learning, I didn’t know what to expect. Personally, I liked being in school just to get an academic education, and staying at home felt very limiting. Something I started to miss was the in-person connections I started making with some people from my classes. I was getting lazy from just being home and quarantining so I pushed myself harder to focus on my studies and homework.
During my junior year, many of my friends were not physically school and chose online learning, so this forced me to try to make new friends at MC. I didn’t have anybody to talk to except Rory, so I started building bonds with other juniors in my class. I attempted to make myself into someone who was better known. That same year I ran track and I built some stronger connections I didn’t have freshman and sophomore year. In my free time whenever there was online learning I started exercising. I couldn’t let myself sit inside all day, do homework, and study. I needed an outlet.
After junior year and going into senior year I wanted to make a difference. I knew I was ready. The confidence I built all throughout high school wouldn’t be for nothing. I started getting more active in my classes by asking more questions and making myself a model student. Every year I worked hard in each of my classes and got work done on time and efficiently. I earned Student of the Month in January for never giving up, and I made the Honor Roll my first and second trimester of the year.
All while this was happening I did what I always wanted to do and that was build my confidence to the point where I wasn’t afraid to be who I was. It took four years of hard work and never giving up on who I was.
If there is one thing that I want to take away from Mt. Carmel, it is that I tried and succeeded in making friends, had dedication to my school work, and stayed true to myself.