Senior Hailey Miller Reflects on Her Time at Pius
Good Evening, I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Spellman, Mr. Barwick, and Mrs. Sedlack for this opportunity. My name is Hailey Miller and I am a senior here at St. Pius X. You may recognize me as the girl who tap dances in our musicals or the girl who paints her face and yells into a mic at every football game or you may not recognize me at all. But the big thing people do not know about me is that I am a competitive Ice Skater. Although this is an outside of Pius activity, it is a huge part of who I am.
When I was thirteen, I competed in the Southeast Regionals for ice skating. I placed eleventh. Although competing in a level higher than I was technically considered, I was devastated. The issue was that I had fallen on my axle, a jump considered easy for the bracket. Even if you have never watched the glorious skating of the Winter Olympics, most everyone knows the word “axle” when it comes to figure skating. The jump is rather simple and unlike any other jump due to that you take off moving forward, rotate one and a half times in the air, and land backwards on your right foot. As far as jumps go, it is the most famous. However, learning to execute an axle correctly takes often over a year of practice. For me, it took one year, one month, and five days. As big of an accomplishment this is, once you land your axle, there is not another milestone until you land your double axle, which I am currently one year into trying to complete. In the time between, you advance the skills you already have, and learn every other jump in double form.
Now, to make this relevant to why we are here tonight. The process of turning all my jumps into doubles has been just like my years of high school.
Compare the first axle I landed to receiving my acceptance letter to St. Pius X. This milestone was unprecedented in my life and it felt like destiny. From the moment I was born, St. Pius X was the gleaming goal on the horizon. I knew I would continue the family legacy at Pius, following in my mother’s and brother’s footsteps. And because I was attending Friday night lights from the moment I could walk, I saw attending Pius as a simple stroke of fate, but once I actually reached it and received that acceptance letter seconds before leaving for spring break, everything changed.
After the axle, I landed my double salchow. This jump naturally comes next because it forces you to understand how to rotate more efficiently. For me, this was making the cheerleading squad as an incoming freshman, the thing that would be the foundation for my reputation in high school. When I was in fifth grade, I begged my mom to let me sign up for middle school football here at Pius. After being met with an innumerable amount of “no”s, I was handed a flyer for cheerleading tryouts, so luckily, I walked into freshman tryouts with three years of St. Pius X Middle School Cheerleading under my belt and was, to my relief, met with a spot in high school. For two years, I screamed on the sidelines, made tunnels at pep rallys, and rode the buses to games. Cheering for Pius instilled in me the school pride that still leaves me bleeding blue and gold today.
Second, I landed my double toe-loop. This was a surprise to both me and my coach, because I got it perfectly on my first try, making it my best skill, even now. This was stumbling into an acting class my first semester. Although I had done shows before, including three at Pius, I made the decision that it would not be the focus of my high school life because it was not the stereotype I wanted to fall under. If my freshman self could see me now that I have dropped cheerleading and am a complete theater kid, she would be horrified, but, like the jump, it just clicked. Pius Players quickly became my niche at Pius. The cast became my family and Mrs. Spark, my mentor. It pushed me to get out of my own way and truly cultivate a talent of mine. Pius Players introduced me to directing, which I am now choosing to make my career. I cannot express the feeling that I get when I walk on stage in the Young Center, it feels like I am exactly where I need to be, and the amount of thanks I owe to Pius for that feeling is something I can never repay. Like landing the double toe-loop, the moment I walked into that drama class, I knew I had found something that would never leave me.
Third, I landed my double loop, after endless failed attempts. The double loop is a jump where the difficulty lies in the takeoff because, with the entry position, it is hard to get high enough off the ground to rotate. However, once you get it, it is consistent and easy to add on the end of any other jump. This is my faith formation. Despite setbacks from my social life and doubting mind, my freshman year, I attended the Domini Sumus retreat. The theme, “I in them and You in Me” pushed me to allow my faith to grow in every part of life instead of only in the pews on Sunday. Campus Ministry became my refuge, giving me guidance, sweet treats, and challenging me to be a better version of myself. In addition to four years of retreats, last spring break I had the opportunity to attend the Spring Break Mission Trip in Jamaica, where, along with 19 classmates, my view of the world changed. I learned to be grateful for what you are given and that joy can always be found in giving of your time and talent. Pius has strengthened my love for service and encouraged me to help in every opportunity that I can, whether it be a chance to gain a Work of Mercy or just a time to reach out and be a good person. Like putting the double loop on the ends of jumps, I combine my faith with everything I do, fully letting it be part of who I am.
Fourth, I landed my double flip, a jump that is very easy to lose control of. This is coordinating the Jungle Club, a balancing act between pleasing the student body and following the rules of administration. The same way you launch a double flip and pray you land on your feet, controlling hundreds of excited teenagers is a leap of faith. Being voluntold you are head of Jungle Club is a blessing and a curse. While it gives you power to choose themes and get a few too many confetti cannons, it also makes you the target of every request or complaint about pep rallies, banners, themes, and traditions. For example, sometimes you are put in a position where you have to stop an entire student body from throwing baby powder they, despite your begging, secretly passing around the whole Jungle. But on the other hand, you get to lead everyone in spirited cheers and take weekly road trips to far away friday nights. Like the double flip, the position is beautiful chaos, but I can think of no better way to show off my Most Spirited title.
This brings us all the way to today. Right now, I am trying to land my double axle. This is my college decision, the next true milestone of my life. Like my first axle, it will change everything. But luckily this time, I have an entire repertoire of experiences and skills to get me there.
Leaving Pius is going to be bitter sweet. I will be ending a chapter of my life that I would never change and that has truly given me my faith, passions, and taught me about myself in an inexplicable amount of ways. Pius is not just the place that I will have gone to high school, it's the place that helped me find my identity and gave me a forever home away from home. I am endlessly proud to be a Golden Lion.