Senior Column: Matt Centner


Matthew Centner, Chief Editor

There are only 8 days left until I say goodbye to high school, until I walk in my cap and gown and end a chapter of my life that I never thought I would live to finish.

It still doesn’t feel real to me.

In the four years I attended Oshkosh North, I have lost and earned many things. I have stumbled and I have fallen countless times. But each time, I have forced myself to get back up and keep going, even when it feels like moving on isn’t possible. 

I wanted to give up more than once, especially at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every plan I made for the future were plans I’d made for someone who was supposed to have died by now. While I was isolated from my friends and school, stuck inside with a family far from functional, I faced one of the worst depressive periods of my life. At 15, I relapsed from a 2-year-long, self-harm-free streak and was hospitalized. And while I may not have done anything as drastic since, I’ve still had my moments where I’ve screamed, ruminated until I made myself sick, and tried to fill the holes in my heart with pain just so I could feel something. 

Even this February, I was so sure that I would drive my car into a pole before I lived to see my final day of high school. I had come so close to doing just that, too. If the shift I’d had at work that night hadn’t been the best one of my life, I’m not entirely sure that I’d be here. 

But I am, and I have since learned then that there is no use in dwelling on what could have been. All you can do is acknowledge what has happened, learn from it and focus on the present. 

Focus on the present, so you can focus on the future—because the past is in the past, and the future isn’t guaranteed, so you have to take each day one step at a time in order to get there. It’s better to try and focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

So in my final piece as Chief Editor of the North Star, I will focus on who has helped me through my high school years and thank them for what they’ve done for me.

Thank you, Mr. Cummings, for helping me become the writer that I am today. You taught me so many things that I will continue to utilize as I pursue a degree in English at UW-Oshkosh and a career in creative writing. I am so glad to have met you; you are a great teacher, a comedian, and a really good father to your kids. Your friendliness and your radiant personality are super contagious. 

Thank you, Mrs. Holdorf, for always encouraging me to be my best self. You are the best counselor I could have ever asked for. Thank you for being there for me through the good and the bad, and thank you for always keeping it real with me. I can’t wait to keep bugging you even after I graduate. 

Thank you Ms. Anderson, Mrs. Munig, and Mrs. Speidel, for being some of the most kickass women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Thank you to all of my teachers for all of the lessons you’ve taught me, scholarly and otherwise. Thank you to my parents, who always believed in me even when I’ve stumbled.

I learned many lessons while I attended North, as many unexpected changes were dropped into my life. That’s the thing about life; it’s always changing, and before, I wasn’t ready for that. I wanted simple solutions, and I wanted them fast, which is why my thoughts so frequently drifted towards suicide. 

But if I had committed suicide, I wouldn’t have been able to see how much my life improved. 

I wouldn’t have been able to finish my first ever novel, which I will be self-publishing this August. 

I wouldn’t have been able to see my dysfunctional family blossom into a healthy one when certain changes were made to the household in March. 

I wouldn’t have made the friendships I did. I would have missed so much, and I am so grateful that I’m still here to live out the plans I’ve made for myself. 

And I have Oshkosh North, and the North Star team, to thank for that.