By Lori Draz and Owen Doherty
Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month, our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents on a wide variety of topics. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact email@example.com. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry – let’s just get to sharing.
This month’s author is 17-year-old Owen Doherty, a soon-to-be senior at Regis High School in New York City, although he lives in Rumson, where he is an active Boy Scout, working on his Eagle Scout project. He is a gifted singer who has performed at many of Rumson’s official ceremonies. Owen decided to make the sacrifices necessary to get the scholastic education he desired, but wound up gaining a much deeper education that will benefit him throughout his life. In this month’s Teen Scene, we’ll see that he learned a lot about diversity by just living in it; a good reason for all of us to visit places and people that are not on our daily radar. Here is Owen’s story:
My name is Owen Doherty. I’m seventeen years old and I’m a soon-to-be senior at Regis High School in New York City; a private, all-boys, Jesuit High School on Park and 85th in the Upper East Side. However, I live in Rumson. Usually, when I tell people that, they assume I live in the city – that Regis is some kind of boarding school. In reality, I commute back and forth to Manhattan every day on the Seastreak ferry. Until I recently passed my driver’s test, I actually got rides home from friends in town who also commuted in. You could say I am a high school kid who is living the Wall Streeter’s life. It’s certainly out there, but the stepping out of my hometown and the different environment has taught me quite a bit.
Rumson is an incredible place and I am proud to be a part of the community. It is, however, relatively homogeneous in the racial sense. It leans toward the conservative side of the political spectrum and is generally more well-off than certain other areas in New Jersey. Regis was a quite a shock for me. Regis is a cultural melting pot. While it is physically located in the Upper East Side, kids come from all the five boroughs, New Jersey, Long Island, and even as far north as Stamford, Connecticut. There are kids that come from virtually every socioeconomic status, every type of family history, and many different races. I have very good friends who are full-blown socialists and very good friends who will shout “Make America Great Again” during lunch. Every position that one could take on American and world politics is reflected at Regis High School, and I don’t believe that to be an exaggeration.
There is a plethora of perks that come with being exposed to this kind of environment. With this many backgrounds, views, and perspectives, I can analyze how different lifestyles lead people to do what they do, how it influences how they act, and believe what they believe. I can see why certain people are socialists, and why some people would prefer anarchy. Being exposed to a Regian environment has made me become aware of a myriad of peoples, ways of life, and perspectives, and to furthermore be able to respect them.
These are the two qualities I stress, and the two qualities that I would like to stress that all people work towards. Awareness and respect. If you try and see every decision and every action from that person’s point of view, you can come to see why people do the things they do. If you respect all people and are aware of what they do and why they do it, you can begin to formulate your own loving, caring, respectful, courageous, bold worldview. You can take the best of every position and live in a way that brings people together, not apart. You will develop a way of comprehending that respects all walks of life, all perspectives, and all religions. You can understand, especially, why people walk these paths, and help them if they need it.
Of course, not everybody has been blessed with the exposure that I have. Some people even grow up, live, and pass on in the same town where they were born. And that’s alright. You can still live an open, respectful, caring life. If you only get one word from this article, and if I can only stress one quality, it would be respect. I have learned from my time at Regis that respect is a priceless virtue. Going through life with the utmost respect for other people will get you far.
I believe that my time at Regis has endowed me with a unique view of the world that is extremely difficult to find anywhere else. So I bestow this one piece of advice: put yourself out there. Join a new club. Talk to someone new at lunch or in the workplace. Don’t live in isolation with the same type of people in the same time all your life. Be random. Throw a dart on a map and go where it lands. You’ll come out as a better person because of it.