In a Flash: Linking Together by Letting Go

Cara Tran, Staff Writer

Ordinarily, Ashuta Date (11) would have chosen to wear a different color, but on this day—the first day of school—she wore green, neon green.

She needed to wear this neon green shirt. She had to. She didn’t have a choice.

In fact, she hasn’t had a lot of choices recently. Ever since March of 2020, she had been stuck at home, isolated, and, aside from her family, alone. 

This was an unfortunate surprise for Ashuta, who had been successfully tackling high school throughout her freshman year. By March, she felt like she had gotten the hang of things. She had just started to get some power over high school. And then, everything changed.

The stay-at-home order was announced. 

For three weeks, Ashuta sat at home, waiting for the news that she would return to school. But the three weeks stretched into four. Then five. Then six. Three weeks turned into nearly 18 months of isolation. 

While she had gone to classes on Zoom and had homework to do during that time, she wasn’t really in high school. Instead, her freshman and sophomore years— her years as an underclassman— were gone. They were replaced with blank boxes on a computer screen, with turning on a computer instead of turning into her classroom doors, and with texts instead of conversations in halls between classes. 

But Ashuta wasn’t a quitter. She adapted. She joined clubs: Mock Trial, Speech and Debate, Link Crew. She got her license. She got control over her life.

Now, Ashuta wasn’t just a freshman who had her school year cut short. She was an upperclassman with two years of high school under her belt. As the 2021 school year kicked off, she was a Link Leader. 

So yes, Ashuta was wearing a bright, neon green shirt that wasn’t her first choice. But she knew the shirt was more than just a shirt. It was more than just an unflattering color. It was her Link Crew leader shirt, a representation of what changed. She wore the shirt because while the color might not have been her first choice, returning to campus as a leader— a role model— was. Ashuta left Westview in March of 2020 as a freshman with no license, no control, no power. But, she returned as an upperclassman with a license, control, and a sense of self-empowerment that was missing 18 months ago.