Monday, December 26, 2022

Staying connected after high school

 My wife subscribed me to a weekly writing prompt where I can write about things that my audience prompts me with. This week’s question is:

Are you still friends with any of your friends from high school? How have they changed since then?

I stay in touch with a few friends from High School and in this day and age of social media, I’m “friends” with others online, but we haven’t talked in years. Of those I stay in touch with the most, we acknowledge each other as brothers and check in at least monthly with a video call for a few hours. I’ve known the two of them since I was 8 and 10 years old respectively. Before I get into explaining my relationship with them, I’ll provide a bit of a backstory to the high school education I received before I migrated and settled in Vermont.

I attended two high schools in Utah, the 1st for 9th and 10th grade was AMES (Academy of Math, Engineering, and Science) and for 11th and 12th grade, Hunter High School. AMES is a private charter school that was miles away and accessible via a 45 minute bus ride to and from our bus-stop at my local middle-school Kennedy Jr. High School. It was a college preparatory high school that accepted students from throughout the Salt Lake Valley and taught AP classes, University of Utah classes, and was located within the Cottonwood High School building. Labeled a school for nerds/geeks, I was admitted through a blind lottery and left most of the kids that I knew from my jr. high school to attend. It was adjustment as I had relied heavily on my base intelligence and at AMES I was challenged by teachers and other students to apply myself and learned that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room. 

In 9th grade, myself and Robert Siale (one of the two friends I stay in touch with the most) started together. Robert lasted for a semester and then went back to the local jr. high school. I stayed through the 9th grade and wrestled for the local CottonWood High School. This was tough to manage as I wanted to stay active in sports, but found myself walking to school at 7:30 am and then not getting home from school and practice until 6 pm. Luckily a neighbor down the street worked closely and was offering me some rides instead of having to take the public bus and then walking home. 

In 10th grade, things were difficult at home with the constant travel and schoolwork and while I was committed to staying through the school year, I made the decision to transfer to my local high school for my junior and senior year. Before I left AMES however, I made some lasting friendships with folks that I still stay in touch with occasionally online. I sometimes regret not having stayed at the school for all 4 years as I have fond memories of my time spent there. Before I left, I lettered as a varsity wrestler in the 5a division (schools of 2000+ students) as a 10th grader and looked forward to reconnecting with kids that lived close by. 

So entering my 11th grade year, I spent time reconnecting with folks that I had been distant from the previous  2 years. Robert had moved into playing football and had his own friend groups. Juan Aguilar had joined the swim team and was practicing almost 20 hours a week. I didn’t feel like wrestling anymore having wrestled for 4 years so I ended up joining the literary magazine group, dated Talysha Tingey, and started thinking about what I was going to do when I graduated. Junior year was up and down, but after settling back in with some AP classes and making some new friends, I refocused on getting my grades back up and was adamant about going to college.

During my senior year, Robert and I reconnected, went to prom together with our girlfriends and celebrated graduation. Juan and I reconnected with our AP Psychology class and I spent some nights at Juan’s home when things were too rough to handle at my house. As we navigated what to do after graduation, I ended up enrolling at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT while Juan decided to attend Whittier College in California. Robert stayed in Utah and enrolled at the University of Utah and continued to date his girlfriend Alyssa (now his wife). 

Juan met his now wife Ragna while at school and followed her back home to Iceland. They live in the capital Reykjavik and have two children. Robert lives in Layton, UT with Alyssa and their two children. We still have a group chat going and try to video chat monthly so we’re kept apprised how how each other is doing. It’s been years since we’ve been together physically all at the same time, but hopefully will get together within the next few years and introduce our children to one another.

As far as how they have changed since high school, I think all three of us have adjusted well into adulthood and parenthood. We have close ties to our families and seek advice from one another and see ourselves as brothers from different mothers. I value their friendship and will nurture those relationships as I grow older, hopefully reciprocating the love and kindness they’ve shown me. As our lives take different paths, I hope that we can reach those crossroads together and share our experiences to make easier for ourselves and our families. I look forward to our conversations and times where we can reminisce about yesteryear.


Alyssa, Robert, Aaron, and Talysha: 2007/2008 Prom

Juan Aguilar: 2008 prom

Aaron Ashton: Senior photo 2008.

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