The Meaning of a Hello ft. Adrian Castillo

Eleanor Pontikes Chances are, you have walked into school stressed about a test or came in coughing with a cold and were met with a smile and a greeting by Adrian Castillo at the front desk. In fact, you got that same smile and a greeting the next day, and the next, and the next… Adrian started working at Latin in 2011 after a friend of his saw a posting about a job at Latin and thought it would be a perfect fit for Adrian. Since then, Adrian has worked for Summer at Latin, lower school programs (such as ASRs and Extended Day), and reception at the lower, middle, and now high school. In six years, Adrian has created a welcoming and genuine environment throughout the Latin community with everyone he interacts with. What sets Adrian apart is his impressive knowledge of Latin’s student body and faculty members. When you walk through Latin’s double doors, a “hello” or “good morning” is also matched with a personal greeting. At first, I was surprised when he greeted me by my name—then, I was impressed. He not only knew my name, but he also knew the names of the hundreds of individuals who make up the Latin community. I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I soon became cynical after I first started receiving these greetings. How could he possibly remember all these names? I thought that he must have a name pop up on his computer when people badge in, but the story behind Adrian’s personal greetings is far more moving. At the boarding school Adrian attended for high school, a speaker once came and told a story about his own high school experience. The speaker always noticed one boy who always got picked on around school. He would say, “hi” to the boy, but the conversation never continued. One day, the speaker was walking and noticed this boy on the other side of the street heading in the opposite direction. Soon, a group of classmates approached the kid and knocked papers and books from his hand. The speaker rushed over to the other side of the street and asked the boy if he was okay while helping the boy collect his belongings. Twenty years after that incident, the man who always got picked on in high school was at the speaker’s door. The man explained he was distracted and did not see the other boys approaching him because he was on the way home to end his own life. He said that when the speaker crossed the street to help, that was the first time anyone noticed him. It was the first time anyone bothered to ask what his name was and get to know him as a person. After the speaker finished his story, Adrian was immediately impacted. For the rest of his sophomore year at boarding school, Adrian would say goodnight to everyone in his dorm one-by-one. This mentality has stuck with Adrian over the years, even though he has run into a few obstacles. If he learns a few names, then he has to know everyone’s, and he acknowledges that some people may not feel like his personal greetings are genuine, but “if it takes time for people to feel like you’re being genuine, you have to keep doing it.” Adrian likes “being the glue” in a community. According to Adrian, addressing people by their name “makes them happier and feel more welcome.” In turn, his interactions with people make him enjoy his job more. “I feel like I’m being paid to be myself. It’s not a job for me. [The job] gets me excited to wake up at 4:50 in the morning every day.” It is remarkable to go to a school where individuals like Adrian Castillo strive to make the environment better for everyone and enjoy what they do. Stories like Adrian’s are an inspiring example of how big the impact of an individual can be.]]>