Letters From the Class of ’23: Cole Hanover


I remember in Middle School, we had a band teacher named Mr. Teolis, who wrote a march sweetly dedicated to our grade. After he’d written it, he asked us something like, “So what should it be called? 7th Grade March? March of the 13-year-olds?” And almost instinctively, we responded with “March of 2023.” Mr. T later told that story at our band concert, commenting how it was hilarious that 2023 first came to our minds, since “they’re just clamoring to get out of this place.”

In 7th grade, I don’t think I really did have any attitude, positive or negative, about graduation. Come to think of it, I’m still not sure I do. I have exactly one month left of my time at Latin. One month. That means I have about 0.7% of my time at Latin left, and yet it still hasn’t fully hit me that there’s a world waiting for me afterward.
As an ambassador for prospective families, I’ve been asked what makes Latin different from other schools, but I’ve never had a school that wasn’t Latin. To me, Latin and School are interchangeable words, so take all my Latin-advice with a grain of salt, because maybe it’s just school-advice. And since 14 years is a pretty good chunk of my existence, maybe it’s just life-advice.

So, now that that’s all out of the way, I guess the first thing I’d like to do is quote Thor, because I strongly believe Latin, like Asgard, “is not a place. It’s a people.” That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned here. Sure, there are a ton of opportunities provided here in terms of academics and extracurriculars, and I couldn’t be prouder to have taken advantage of many of them, but these experiences would all be nothing without the people who accompanied me through them. It was the people who came before me who shaped my activities and goals, whether it was Elliot Kovitz fearlessly leading the Latones, Frances Hutchison directing me in Clue, or Collin Dwyer showing the school that it’s cool to be goofy and outgoing. And it’s YOU who will shape the norms and expectations for all the beautiful people who come after you.

With that in mind, please believe me how much of a losing battle it is to conform yourself to other people’s perceptions of you. The Latin community can be a powerful tool for self-expression and shared traditions, but its cliquey nature can also make you feel a little boxed in and trapped by a specific social status. For years, I felt as if taking classes seriously, letting my unique sense of humor run wild, or adhering to the “theater kid” stereotype would mean failure to live up to imposed standards of weird concepts like “masculinity” or “popularity” (which are both B.S. made-up constructs if you didn’t know already). Trust me, people will only think less of you for pursuing your passions if you seem insecure and reluctant to do them. As long as you lean into what you enjoy and act on the outside the way you feel on the inside, the only people who will judge you are those who wish they had your confidence.

Every year, more and more, I see a growing virus spreading through the underclassman grades of purposely pretending not to care about anything, just to look cool. The sooner you realize that it’s so much more fun to be enthusiastic about school events and celebrate your peers’ accomplishments, the more life-changing memories you’ll make here. I can say, without a doubt, that there’s never been a time I’ve taken a creative risk at Latin and lived to regret it in the long run.

But if you want to reach a place where you feel comfortable in this community, you gotta put into it what you want to get out of it. In other words, there’s no use defining anyone else by their past actions, because high school is possibly the time when people change most dramatically. Absolutely nobody has themselves fully figured out at any point in high school, and if you think you do, you’re lying to yourself, buddy. So give people the time, space, and support to try new things, fail, and try something else, because you know you’d want them to do the same for you. It wasn’t until senior year that I realized how much energy is saved by not holding grudges against anyone I found irritating in the past, and my life is now astronomically less stressful. It’s like putting your brain in a jacuzzi; you really gotta try it.

And speaking of casting judgment onto others (and I know how corny it is to be saying this), your teachers don’t have to be your opps if you don’t want them to be. It may not always seem like it, but the vast majority of teachers here actively want to see you succeed, and you just have to help them help you. So don’t take their work for granted, as they’ll miss you just as much as you’ll miss them. Especially Ms. McGlinn; I don’t know what I’ll do in life without her.

At the end of the day, Latin will always be a part of me. From all the high highs, to the low, REALLY low lows, this place is home. And I’ve never left a home permanently before. The uncertainty of it all drowns me in a rippling riptide of emotions. While I know for a fact that I’m not “clamoring to get out of this place” (sorry, Mr. T), I also know that my journey here has reached its curtain call, and the show must go on. It might as well go on with my head held high, and the lifelong knowledge I’ve gained here guiding my path. Class of ‘23, I love you, and keep in touch.

Romanly Yours,
Cole Hanover