The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

    Stone Soul Quarter 4 + Reflections: All’s Well That Ends


    [The fourth in a series about Stone Soul.]

    I was terrified of them.
    Seniors. They must have had that life thing all figured out. Must have been lords of creation in their infinite wisdom. 


    They’d heard I played guitar and told freshman me about this silly little event called Stone Soul. I had to perform. They wanted to hear me rock out, they said, wanted some new blood in this coveted high school event. I heard it was like a coffee shop show where I could play death metal and no one would mind.


    I went to English class still afraid I was being mocked, afraid I’d enter the “Stone Soul” and the charade would fall away to reveal a freakshow tent with me at the center pilloried. I heard a Greek chorus laughing and pointing and shivered. Mentally, quarantine wasn’t my finest hour. We’d played Among Us on Discord till the sun rose, did yoga, and went on bike rides with Mr. Spedding. Just a single one of those is enough to break a man’s mind.


    Later that day, B-Law was walking around the cold library classroom, masked-up, holding up a phone to us in-person students so we could yell our Thousand Splendid Suns questions through Zoom. After the rest of the class filed out or “lost their internet connection,” B-Law went up to this sad little bedroom guitarist and talked about Stone Soul like it was going to change my life. That soothed my paranoid little heart. Plus, I had a major crush on a girl in my class who told me she’d watch it if I was performing. 


    And so I filmed myself playing a death metal song—Ghost of Perdition. There was no time limit. It was messy, noisy, and off-beat. I loved it. It was an explosion of what could not be expressed through words.


    To my shock, the chat box filled up with glowing encouragement. Said girl texted me personally saying she loved it. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I turned off my computer and looked out the window at a strange and unfamiliar world I was growing to like. The coating of blizzard frost was just beginning to melt off the grass, coaxed away by the sun.




    This time Lucia, Ella Sofia, Sophie, Sydney, Sofia, and Natalia started us off by performing an energetic mashup entitled “Shallow…Dreams…and Blow.” This was followed by Audrey performing “Never Enough,” a reflective musical piece with sustained high notes, and Nidhi piercing all our hearts with a barrage of beautiful, tender spoken word poetry.


    The sophomores came next. Ruby performed “Stick Season” by Noah Kahan on acoustic guitar and her soaring voice. Orion, with a similar setup and an equally powerful set of vocal cords, performed “Sedona” by Houndmouth. Finishing off the grade came Ricardo, singing “The Impossible Dream,” a musical number from the musical adaptation of Don Quixote (adored by Dr. Lawrence) about following one’s noble quest and chivalrious, romantic ideals.


    Starting off the juniors, Annia performed a lovely violin piece before Taiga and Rafa played “The Moon Song,” a romantic piece from the science fiction movie “Her.” Tristan and Caden D soon after faced off in a game curling weights. I felt as if I was witnessing the Predator handshake in real life. The testosterone was palpable, and its power exploded with the audience’s cheers as Tristan usurped the ultimate gym bro at his craft. More duets followed: Yaseen and I played Killing in the Name, a metal protest song by Rage Against the Machine with face-melting riffs. Akash and Osaka, in both their first Stone Soul performances, played a soft guitar and vocal duet together. A video of Siri singing the opera piece Vedrai Carino was shown. Even after all this time, it breaks me to watch. 


    The seniors began the second half of Stone Soul! 


    Kate, in a sprawling six-minute solo, played the elegant and virtuosic Brahms Intermezzo on the piano.

    Bella, Caden, and Ollie played the rock song “Harpee.”

    –Bringing us full circle to our middle school graduation four years previously, Joanna played “Pan” on the flute.

    Azri, Niraj, and Abby sang “Pitch Perfect,” a feat perfected by long hours training their voices during second period break.

    Tavi and Tony (in his first guitar performance!) played “The Gold” in an acoustic guitar and vocal duet.

    Isa once again shredded on fingerstyle guitar.

    Abby, Niraj, Azri, Evalyn, Nandini, Sidney, and Kate N performed their last and greatest body trick. Niraj was pulled up from behind and delicately balanced while Evalyn was suspended in midair.

    Me, Ollie, and Mars played “All’s Well That Ends,” an original song that pulled through despite some technical difficulties.

    –The seniors, led by Abby, sang “Grenade” by Bruno Mars.

    Caden, Rafa, Tavi, Ollie, and Mars, in their last performance as the rock band “Pan Fried,” played Big Thief’s Shark Smile and “YControl.”




    After twelve years of education, I’ve been thinking about what school doesn’t teach you. They don’t teach you how trippy nostalgia is. This same flesh was six once, walking through the front gate, white-knuckled hand gripping my mom’s. I held a bee lunchbox and was in awe of those mature, seemingly godlike beings who had their (gasp!) ages in the double digits. They must have had it all figured out. Must have been lords of creation in their infinite wisdom.


    They do teach you about discovering passion. I found a penchant for guitar, songwriting, and theater. I went from hating arguments and hating wearing suits to being set on a law career. At times, I’ve despised this place, but I’ve also wished to go back here for just one more day to soak in more details. 


    If I think back far enough, to my first clear Keystone memory, I remember being a turtle. The stage lights burn against cold sweat and I’m there, shivering, a cardboard shell on my back, talking to my turtle son. It’s the first-grade play. I’ve forgotten my lines. Someone tells me them from offstage. I miss that shell–it was comfy and warm, but I can’t fit it back on. I’ve grown to like that. 


    Still, school doesn’t teach you how to grow up without pain. I don’t think that’s even possible. They don’t teach you about loss—real death—but I’m so glad we came together and supported each other during that time. That’s just one of the many things I love about our grade. It’s taught me that life can change in one second and leave your world unrecognizable, and as such I have learned to savor and be sentimental. 


    They don’t teach you how to say goodbye. All my dearest friends have been from here, and I won’t see some of y’all ever again. We leave here, the shell comes off, and we find something new to fit into. To worship. Hopefully something that makes money and spits you out alive. I know you’ll do it. 


    They do teach you here about how to think. The teachers here give you the tools to extract meaning from a world of information overload and limited time. In the end, more than any event–more than Stone Souls or outdoor ed trips or zero IQ lunch discussions–I’ll miss y’all. I enjoyed my time here—I wouldn’t trade it for anything—but I think we’re all ready to leave. All’s well that ends. 


    It ended well. I’m going to my first choice college in Providence, Rhode Island—Brown’s a place I know I’ll call home. It’s a trip to see a dream manifest. There’s a hell of a lot more frost there and a hell of a lot more melting to do, but I don’t mind one bit.


    I’m running north past the palaterías, the RiverWalk ducks, Extra Fine, an infinite loop of paying and repaying my friend for meals, past Alamo Drafthouse, past my soccer field and the cliffs that overlook it, past factory stacks and metal sheeting withered in the wind and the only school I’ve ever known. I’m running with the wind, screaming and looking to shed my skin, but not to the point where I forget my face or where I came from. 


    We had a good run. It was one hell of a ride. There won’t be a next time, but, from the bottom of my heart—keep on rockin’ in the free world.


    —Evan Hamaoka, Class of ‘24


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    About the Contributor
    Evan Hamaoka
    Evan Hamaoka, Student Life Editor
    Evan Hamaoka is a senior at Keystone. His hobbies include creative writing, playing guitar, eternally searching for the worst movie of all time, listening to music, performing harsh vocals, running, and over-analyzing media. He is a part of LitMag, theater, soccer, and track.

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