Dear Saint Patrick – Joe Malo ’21
Dear Saint Patrick
My first day at St. Pat’s felt surreal. So many new people, new classes, new teachers. Everything was loud and exciting. But it was also really scary my first couple of days. It felt like I didn’t have my place at St. Pat’s yet. I knew a couple people from my grammar school, but I didn’t have many classes with them. But soon enough, I found my place, and plenty of friends to go with it. I don’t know what compelled me to sign up for auditions for the fall play, but I’m glad I did. Not only did I make the show, but I got one of the lead roles too. This jump right into the theatre program at St. Pat’s helped me find my place, a place where I was surrounded by people who cared about their work, and the students next to them. I was able to make friends, not only with other freshman, but also with students of all grade levels, and from different schools. This helped me become more comfortable with other people, and I was doing something I loved at the same time. Mr. Arndt and the entire theatre company gave me a sense of home, a feeling of community, and an incredible space to learn new things. The Theatre was the first time I found my place at St. Pat’s, but I quickly realized how the entire school became a second home to me.
Everyone who ever walked the halls of Saint Patrick High School has heard and felt the word brotherhood. It’s the sense of community we share, even when we feel we’re completely different. It’s the willingness of students to help each other when we struggle. But it’s also something more than that. It’s generally summed up as “we’ve got each other’s backs,” and yet, it doesn’t feel like that quite explains it right. The brotherhood at St. Pat’s isn’t just about being there for the people you know, it’s also about being there for the people who need it most. It’s easy to be there for your friend, or for a classmate. But it can be difficult sometimes to be there for someone you don’t know, that you’ve never met before. It feels like brotherhood is more about making sure that nobody is left out. Our brotherhood is about having each other’s backs, yes, but it’s also about students who don’t know each other but stop to help pick up someone else’s books. It’s about reaching out to the student that sits alone at lunch, and asking him to join your table. It’s about talking to that one other guy in your class for the first time because he looks like he’s had a rough day, and needs to hear a joke or two. Anyone can throw around the word brotherhood, act friendly to each other, and call it a day. But it takes a Shamrock to create a real brotherhood, and create a space where that word becomes something real.
By far, the most important lesson I’ve learned at St. Pats is to never give up on yourself. My junior year, I was playing multiple leads in the fall show, The Neverending Story, and I started to struggle quickly. Not only was I having a hard time in rehearsal everyday, but it felt like every effort I gave to improve my situation didn’t make a difference. After weeks and weeks of trying to make it work, I felt like giving up and it took the words of my best friend, Lucas Richard ’20, to get me back on track. He told me, “Don’t be afraid to struggle. It’s okay if it’s not perfect, but it’s not okay to give. up. The second you give up, you start affecting everyone else in the room, who is still trying to give it their all” I took those simple words to heart, and redoubled my efforts into my performance. In the end, I was able to put on one of the best shows we’ve ever done at St. Pat’s, but only because I learned not to give up on myself.
I also appreciated the lesson given by Dr. Schmidt, “Make yourself a great day” It . always one of Dr. Schmidt’s “isms” that you heard if you listened to him speak. Every single morning on the announcements he’d tell me to end it with those same words, “Make yourself a great day.” I never understood why so I just had to ask him. He told me, “The whole point is to tell yourself that you can choose what your day will be like.” He went on to point out how it’s our mentality about each day that determines our happiness. Life will always throw difficulties your way, that’s just how life is, but it will never matter how bad life is if you’re able to always keep a good attitude, and make each and every day the best it can be.
Looking back at freshman year, at the person I was four years ago, all I can remember is a shy kid who never really got out of his same circle of friends. I also remember four years ago that I didn’t want to participate in any extracurricular activities in high school. Just focus on school, and go home. But I’m so glad I’ve changed since then. I’ve grown so much, I’ve matured, I’ve made dozens of friends I thought I’d never make before. I’ve done more and accomplished more than freshman me ever dreamed of doing. I’ve reconnected with my Religion, I’ve become a leader, especially in the theatre department, but most importantly, I’ve become a man here at St. Pat’s. I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life, I’ve given myself purpose, and I’ve made some of my best friends here at St. Pat’s. Originally, I came to St. Pat’s because this is where my brother went, and it didn’t feel right to go anywhere else. But now, I couldn’t imagine my life would be the same without St. Pats.
My brother often talked about how much he loved St. Pat’s. How much he loved the brotherhood that filled the halls, and the friends that filled the classrooms. When I was still in 8th grade and heard him talk about high school, I never really understood what he was getting at. It all felt like a different world, something that I’d never experience. And my first year here, I tried not to. I still distanced myself a little from school. I still chose to stay inside my bubble, instead of immersing myself in the culture and community of St. Pat’s. But now, I regret doing so. I wish I would’ve jumped right in, done more things while I was at school, invested myself more in schoolwork, gone to more games and sat in more Stud Sections. I’ll always regret not giving myself more to this school. But, I am thankful for all the memories I did make. All the shows I’ve done, the morning announcements, hanging out with friends after school, and all of the other incredible memories made here at St. Pat’s.
I will never forget my time here at St. Pat’s. I am blessed to have been able to experience this school’s culture and community, and to have been able to spend my four years of high school at St. Pat’s “the oldest and best all boys school in the state of Illinois.” I will forever be in debt to the vast amount of effort given by teachers, faculty, and administrators, to make this school better, and to shape me into the man I’ve become today. For all of these efforts, and for the efforts of my parents, and everyone else who has helped me in my four years at St. Pat’s, I am eternally grateful. Thank you.
Joseph Malo ’21
To read more letters from the Class of 2021, click here.