The Charismatic, Smart, and Passionate Sara Irvine


Photo Credit: Sara Irvine

Quin Benedict, OwlFeed Opinion Columnist

One year ago, almost to the day, I sat next to Sara Irvine, now a senior, at the first (and only) Owls Literary Magazine poetry slam. 

Of all the people gathered in the cafe she was the brightest. Even as she tucked herself away into a corner, her smile could be seen across the room. A year of complete isolation, and Sara’s was the first friendly face to be found. 

When it was Sara’s turn to present her piece everyone’s attention fell on her. A hush fell over the crowd as she recited her, clearly, very personal poetry. I thought she was so brave. Then, she sat back down like she hadn’t just poured her heart out to a gaggle of strangers.

Our conversation was clunky and awkward but we never stopped laughing. 

Now, hoping to return the favor, our informal goodbye will be, in theory, just as memorable as our clumsy hello.

 But please, no tears, this isn’t the end of anything, it’s the beginning. No matter which direction she goes, what path she follows, or life she chooses, Sara will succeed. She’s determined, hard working, intelligent, charismatic, creative, dedicated, and kind. 

Don’t let her cute freckles fool you, she’s come a long way in these past four years. 

One of her most notable contributions to the AFHS family is her work with ROTC. She explained that there were a lot of “unspoken tasks” that came with her role. She found herself organizing fundraisers, entering grades, and managing huge tasks despite never being asked. Day in and day out Sara went above and beyond to keep the whole operation running. 

Master Sergeant Nuñez was proud to describe just how far Sara’s come in the program. She noticed a stark change from the summer of junior year to senior year. 

“I went from ‘I don’t know how she’s going to do’ to ‘She’s my go to person,’” Master Sergeant Nuñez said.

Ashley Robinson, a long time friend of Sara’s, added, “She literally is the glue that holds together ROTC. She does so much for the program, it’s ridiculous, and even when the class is proving to be trying she never gives up.”

But ROTC isn’t the only thing Sara’s managed to take on. ROTC as a whole hosts and organizes many things that keep the school going. ROTC provides funds for “color guards events and teams and stuff, the sports team, chain gain, and senior nights,” Sara explained. Beyond that they are always seen “presenting the flags at assemblies.” 

Sara’s made countless changes to the way things work to ensure things run smoothly for ROTC, an often thankless job. Still, she never slowed down. 

Ashley described her friend as “hardworking, stubborn — she literally never quits anything once she starts it, even if she absolutely hates it.”

But that doesn’t mean she’s all business. 

“Whenever Sara’s there, I know there will be laughing,” Master Sergeant Nuñez said with pride. “Sara’s fun but serious when she needs to be.”

Similarly, Ashley said, “She’s the funniest person I know and she is brutally honest, but in the best possible way.” 

Besides ROTC, Sara had the opportunity to play on the girls tennis team.

“You just have to do things that freak you out,” Sara said. 

Even though the prospect of joining the tennis team was nearly terrifying, that’s what she did. Sara beamed as she explained how much playing tennis means to her. 

“The best time I’ve ever had in my life! I have so many amazing memories and I’ve met amazing people,” she said.

She confessed that she wished she had joined sooner, considering this would be her first and last year on the team. 

Trying new things hasn’t always been easy for her. 

Her voice was distant. “Looking back… I just never chose the right friends,” she said. “I didn’t know who I was. I was around the wrong people. It was miserable.” There were fights, drama, and many tears. 

“I was just trying to be comfortable, but isn’t fun to just be comfortable,” she explained with a laugh. Sara said as soon as she pushed herself out of her comfort zone things became so much better.

Before, things were varying degrees of awful all through high school but “like December or January to now? Amazing. Perfect.”  

There’s so much relief in her voice. “I’m having the best time right now, I have amazing friends, I’m finally comfortable with myself, I’m trying new things!” Sara said.

It was never easy, though. “I’ve struggled a lot, quietly, and by myself, if that makes sense,” Sara said.  “I’ve been through things people don’t know about.” 

It’s been a difficult lesson to learn but after so much time hurting and healing on her own, Sara realized, “I don’t have to be alone.” 

And while she’s finally able to trust those closest to her to help navigate some of her problems, she still greatly values her independence. “You have to appreciate yourself, there’s not always going to be someone to hold your hand through things,” she said.

Sara doesn’t know what her future holds as of right now, but that’s beside the point. Right now, she’s taking a trip to Hawaii over the summer with her friend Ashley. She has plans on getting a tattoo or maybe dye her hair. 

“I just want to do things,” she said. The plan is “no plan,” though she may end up becoming a barista or a lifeguard over the summer.

After that? Who knows! Ideally, she’d live in “a little cabin in the mountains in Colorado with a typewriter and make poetry all day.” There would also be a husband but more importantly a fluffy cow. She threw in the idea of maybe writing a book since it’s always been one of her goals. 

Master Sergeant Nuñez is certain that Sara will make her dreams a reality. 

“She’ll do great at whatever she chooses,” Master Sergeant Nuñez said. However, she made it very clear that there isn’t one “right” career path for Sara. In fact, she should bounce around and change her mind a few times. 

In a few years, Nuñez is looking forward to catching up with Sara and asking, “So what did you choose? Did you change your mind?” Regardless, Nuñez is “looking forward to seeing her grow into an adult.”

Finally, with the prospect of the entire world layed neatly at her feet, Sara laughed. “It’s a happy ending, you know what I’m saying?” The future is scary but “I survived and I’m graduating,” she said. 

Maybe two weeks ago, almost to the day, I sat across from Sara Irvine, now a senior, on my bedroom floor. Of all the people I’ve met, the memory of meeting her is still the brightest, even as we both seem so much older now. A year of complete laughter and late-night calls, and Sara’s is the most friendly face this school will be without.

Sara, I love you more than anything, and you’ll always have a piece of me whether you like it or not. I can’t wait to hear your stories and see your hands fly all over the place as you talk. Don’t stress too much about the future, it seems nothing is permanent. 

And thank you. You’ve taught me so much. It sucks that you’re leaving but I’m relieved to see how excited you are for the future.