1. Griffin Gonzalez

Photo by Veronica Teeter

You were voted as one of CHS’s most influential people. How does that make you feel?

Honestly, it’s an honor—I mean we go to a school of 5,010 or whatever the number is now—because you make it your goal to lead others. To be named one of the most influential, it’s an honor because, to me, it says that people enjoy following me, which I don’t know why, which does make me feel good. It makes me feel like I’ve made an impact, and as I close out senior year, it gets emotional, but it definitely tells you what a kid can do at a school of 5,000. You just (have to) find your niche and what started off as a small club I started freshman year ended up making me one of the most influential people here, so it’s kind of finding your niche (and) getting involved. It’s cool to see something that starts off small at a school of 5,000, starting from one, and you grow into something bigger than that, and it’s such a cool path I’ve been able to take, and I thank God every day I’ve been able to take it.


How did the speaker of the House elections change your perception of influence?

It’s actually a cool story because I actually lost that election, and it’s something that I thought, “Oh my gosh, I lost. I won’t even be able to have an impact on Carmel High School now.” And, this past summer, I was like “You know what; this isn’t who I am. I’m not (going to) lose and give up. I’m (going to) continue and find other areas where I can succeed and win in.” And I found that with CHTV. I found that with Big Game. I found that with radio. I found it with a lot of different things and Cabinet still. Honestly, looking back at it, people have been asking me since election week, “How does it feel not to win that election?”, and “How does it feel when remember last year when you lost?” I’m like “Haha, yeah”. People were joking like, “Are you still upset about it?” Looking back, losing that election was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It sounds like a cliché because it is, but at the end of the day, it opened me up to so many areas, and it’s given me the ability to be probably way more influential than what I would have been to numerous other different areas of kids than I would have been as speaker of the House, and it’s just been a cool thing to be a part of, and I’m just honored.  


What is one thing that you feel you’ve left behind at CHS?

I don’t know what exactly (I) left behind. What I hope I left behind is (that) I hope I left behind a want for others to lead because I think that’s what a good leader does; it makes others want to lead. I think it shows that you go to a school of 5,000, (and) I know when people are picking their high school, this scares them. This size scares them alone, and it’s just like “Yeah, this is a big school, but you can make it your own,” and I just really hope what I left behind is a story that somebody who is coming here (and) is nervous, (and) somebody who is coming here who doesn’t know where (he or she belongs). I just hope that they are inspired (and) that they can make it their own, and who knows? By making it their own, they’re walking out of senior year as the most influential student. It’s cool that it happens that way.  


What impact do you think you’ve had on your peers?

The impact I think I had—people tell me it’s bigger than what I think it is—has hopefully been to be a good guy as I leave high school. There’s a saying: “People won’t remember what you said and what you did. People will only remember how you made them feel.” It’s one of my favorite quotes because that’s been my goal; just making sure that I leave school on a day where somebody thinks I’m mad at them or where a teacher doesn’t think I’m trying my best in their class. My goal is to make sure people know that I care about them. People know that I’m a decent human being, and people actually know that I’m a fun loving guy. I hope that’s how I’m going out on. I hope that’s what people think of me. Hopefully that’s how it is.   


How have your peers impacted you?

In ways I can’t even explain. It’s those little conversations you have with someone, whether it’s your best friend over the weekend (or) a guy who sits in the back of your math class, that made four years at Carmel so special. It’s like every day I walk in the hallway, I see a new face, but that’s what makes our school so special. It’s peers have impacted me because it’s been those little conversations I’ve had about an event we have at school, a game or somebody that thinks they have a good idea. It’s those little conversations that peers show me how to be a better friend, how to be a better person (and) how to be a better leader. It’s almost like you’re sitting—obviously you’re sitting in the classroom all day—but just walking around talking to people, you learn more than you can even know. Most of the stuff I’ve learned in high school has actually been having a conversation with peers and teachers, and they’ve impacted me more than anyone can understand, and I thank God for that.

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Sam Shi