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Paoli High School

501 Elm St.
Paoli, IN 47454
(812) 723-3905

Staff Column: Hometown Path Started for One Senior

Courtesy of Cambry Tinkle
Senior Cambry Tinkle poses with her niece and nephew.

I have lived in Paoli for 17 years and have always attended PHS. As I approach graduation, a day we have been waiting for since we started high school, I can’t help but think I am falling behind.

At school, I hear my peers talking about how they can’t wait to escape this small town and never look back. I agree with them, but I know deep down that I’m staying here.

It’s confusing when almost all your peers are leaving to start a new chapter in their lives, but you feel stuck in the same one. Although valid, these comments sometimes make it hard for me to feel confident in my choice to stay in Paoli.

There are many reasons why I have decided to stay in Paoli, but the most vulnerable reason I can give you is that I’m scared of change. I’m scared of my whole life changing and not being able to find a sense of familiarity in this new chapter of my life. I’m scared of moving away from my family. Paoli is all I have ever known and I am scared to leave that behind.

In addition, I have experienced vital milestones in Paoli that have made me want to stay here.

In 2019, my niece Cecelia was born, and she changed my life. Aside from giving me my brand new name, Auntie, she also gave me another reason to try to be a good role model for her. She’s my sidekick and miniature me. Then, in 2021, my nephew Cash was born. He brought a new and exciting energy into my life. These kids have completely changed my life; I do not know what to do without them. To say that my niece and nephew teach me more than any book could would be an understatement. Leaving Paoli would mean not being able to surround myself with their obnoxious but overall loving energy whenever I want. I’m the youngest in my family and have always wanted a little sibling. These kids are exactly that for me. I’m technically their aunt, but we’re more like siblings. We constantly bicker and make each other mad, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t want to watch the little kids who have changed my life grow up without me.

I also want to stay in Paoli after high school because of my job and the people I have met there.

In May of 2023, I was hired to work at Dub’s, a local custard and coffee shop, and I wasn’t prepared for the impact this workplace would have on me.

When I started, I knew a few people who worked there, but most of them were just my acquaintances, and I figured it would stay that way. I’m not very outgoing, but almost a year later, my coworkers have become some of my best friends. They have helped me with personal issues in school and helped me prepare for life after high school. They also helped me to come out of my shell and become more extroverted. Aside from always being there for me, I have made many fun memories with them. I will never forget the stress of tip-toeing around on the freshly mopped floor with Faith Wilder and praying we don’t leave footprints behind. These attempts were always unsuccessful. Working with them introduced me to many new people, and I’m forever grateful. They make me feel so much better about my decision to stay in Paoli because I know they will be here.

The last reason I have chosen to stay in my hometown is that I became my own person here. Here, I figured out the kind of person I wanted to be, not only for myself but for the people around me. My hometown has allowed me to explore who I want to be. For example, the Youth Council and NHS have shown me how rewarding it is to help people in my community
and have helped me realize it is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I value our close-knit community and want to take care of it. I have built many relationships and made so many memories here. I have yet to find out who I am outside of Paoli. One day, I hope to venture outside of Orange County, but I’m still deciding whether to leave. I will never forget how Paoli has shaped who I am.

After high school, I plan to further my education at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany and major in multimedia journalism. I have signed up to be a full-time hybrid student. This choice allows me to spend a few days a week on campus but ultimately do most of my classes online. This option works perfectly for me because I can still spend time with my family and friends and work full-time. I have always felt pressure to do what everyone else is doing, and when I decided not to live on a college campus, I was scared of judgment. I used to want to live on campus, but after much consideration, I realized that option is just not realistic for me and my life right now, and that’s okay.

Ten years from now, I am unsure what my life will be like. Thinking about my life in ten years freaks me out. Ten years sounds like it’s so far away, but in reality, I know it is right around the corner. Hopefully, I will graduate college with my bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. Just like everyone else, I hope to be successful, but what I want for my future goes deeper than that. I hope to be involved in the community and be like the role models I have right now. I want to make the most of these next ten years and not take them for granted.

From this, I hope you realize that it’s okay not to do what everyone else is doing. Be different and choose the path that is right for you. Every decision you make teaches a lesson, and it’s okay to make a different decision than everyone else. This reality is sometimes a tough pill to swallow because fitting in is important to me, but ultimately, taking care of my future is the most important thing.

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About the Contributor
Cambry Tinkle
Cambry Tinkle, Business Manager, Web Editor-in-Chief
Hi my name is Cambry Tinkle, and I'm a senior at PHS. I'm the business manager and editor-in-chief for the web! I enjoy listening to music, hanging out with friends, and being apart of Booster Club.
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